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7 Things Highly Efficient People Do Every Day

7 Things Highly Efficient People Do Every Day

Ever feel like you’re just not getting enough done? Like you are wasting time, effort, and expense?

Studies conducted as early as 2005 found the average weekly work hours per person was about 45, but of those hours 17 were considered unproductive. Things have gotten worse over the years with the average work week now approximately 47 hours. People are not better at using their time effectively. We waste time, effort, and expense on excessive e-mails, pointless meeting, and constant interruptions. This means we hardly get anything done the way it ought to. How can we stop this wastage and maximize our personal efficiency in our workplace, family life, school, and other areas of life?

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One think we can do is look at the most productive and efficient people around and pick up on what they are doing right. Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you’re getting work done. Here are seven things highly efficient people do every day you can emulate to your benefit.

1. Highly efficient people plan their day beforehand.

It’s quite simple, really. When you don’t plan, you plan to fail. That is because you don’t have a focus and can easily be swayed by other people’s demands of money, skills or even your presence. Highly productive people plan out their day beforehand with written ‘to-do’ lists, appointments, and planners to help them focus their activities. This means they are not easily swayed by other people’s demands. They know exactly what they have to do each day before they set off to work. Plan your day beforehand with an end goal in mind. It will improve your efficiency and empower you to say “no” to anything that might steal your focus from your core goals.

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2. Highly efficient people allocate adequate time for priority tasks.

They differentiate between “important” and “unimportant” tasks and allocate enough time and effort for the priority tasks. They know it is easy to lose track of goals if the importance of tasks are confusing. This disciplined approach ensures they do important tasks first and stick to their to-do list, schedules and appointments. Set enough time to get your main work done, and then fit in some time in there for breaks and low-priority tasks like checking e-mail or social media accounts. Controlling your day in this way means you won’t be spending time on the wrong things in the wrong places while ignoring your priority tasks. You will work efficiently.

3. Highly efficient people eliminate distractions.

Distractions have gotten so bad today that Ed Hallowell, former professor at Harvard Medical School and author of Driven to Distraction, says we have “culturally generated ADD.” From scintillating apps on our handsets to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and loud music from the next door neighbor, we have all kinds of distractions present 24/7. Highly efficient people block all these distractions by any means necessary, including switching off their phones and disconnecting from the internet to get work done. They know every minute you’re sitting around checking Facebook, you’re not taking action to get you closer to your dreams. Eliminate distractions to protect your productive hours, focus your attention and get what need to be done, done right.

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4. Highly efficient people delegate tasks.

Nobody can do every single thing and do it well. Highly efficient people know this and are not afraid to let go of control and delegate tasks. They don’t attempt to do it all or assume all responsibility. They carefully and meticulously give responsibility to talented, trusted people whom they have high expectations of. This demonstrates they have faith in the abilities of others and facilitates teamwork towards a common goal. Don’t try to do everything on your own or micromanage. Delegate or outsource tasks when you can’t realistically complete them successfully on your own. Rally others around a common goal and it will boost your efficacy and significantly increase your productivity.

5. Highly efficient people manage their mood and emotions.

No single day is exactly the same as another. Sometimes you will wake up happy and excited, other times you will wake up sad and uninspired. Highly efficient people know better than to let mood swings have the better of them. They understand losing it only makes things worse and reduces your productivity. When offended, they take a deep breath rather than break into angry outbursts. They guard their emotions jealously and address any conflict in a cool and collected manner. Stay positive and express empathy for other people to manage any bad or angry mood. Adopt a morning ritual like exercise or meditation as it tends to improve your mood and help you better manage anything that gets thrown at you during the day.

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6. Highly efficient people stick to a proper work-life balance.

Stress from not taking a break hinders efficiency. Highly efficient people make time for rest, reflection, pleasure, and family every day. They have a strong sense of work-home boundary. This ensures they are sufficiently motivated, inspired, rested, and recharged, both body and mind. Don’t take your work too seriously. Working too much will slow everything down (reduce your efficiency), cause exhaustion, and bring frustration. Similarly, don’t work too little as it can result in distraction, boredom, or worse, laziness. Find the right balance between your work and personal life. Most importantly, never neglect your family and friends. You need these people to lead a wholesome, happy and productive life.

7. Highly efficient people sleep enough.

The importance of getting a good night’s sleep is critical. You need seven to nine hours of sleep per night for your body and brain to rest and function at its best. Highly efficient people make it their priority to get these hours of sleep every day. They know it helps them wake up the next day rejuvenated and energized for the day ahead. Get enough sleep every day. It will help you perform at your peak and give your efficacy a real boost.

Featured photo credit: pitbull2013 via flickr.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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