It is a well-established fact that successful people don’t achieve success by luck or good fortune. While those things might play into success, if you look at the habits and characteristics of successful people, you will quickly find that success takes a lot of hard-work and discipline. But it is not only hard-work and discipline. There is something simple that productive people have in common. It is their habits. Yes, it is the everyday habits of how one prioritizes tasks, organizes time, and manages energy that have an enormous impact on productivity and ultimately, success. Our simple, mundane, everyday habits play a huge role in either fostering or putting a road-block to the pathways that drive us toward productivity, which in turn, allows success and abundance flourish in our lives.
We have complied a list of several different productivity habits that successful people have in common. These habits are not far-fetched, or only something persons of wealth or stature can incorporate into their daily lives. These habits are simple, uncomplicated, straightforward, and can easily be adopted into anyone’s daily routine.
1. Make YOUR time your priority
This is the first item on the list because all productivity hails from using your time wisely. But it goes beyond just managing time wisely. It is about filtering out all of those things that steal precious time away from us. For example, it is so easy to get caught up in busy work at the office, ploughing through endless emails, or staying at a meeting or lunch that has dragged on too long, or to getting pulled into conversations that have nothing to do with your tasks and goals. Pull the plug on these time-sucks! They are time- and energy vampires. Your time is so valuable, and if you feel like a certain task, duty, conversation, activity, or relationship (for that matter) is wasting your time, then stop engaging it!!
2. Exercising allows time for mental focus
If you could encapsulate all the benefits of exercise into a pill, everyone would want it. Working out regularly clears your head and makes you feel more motivated. It helps you look better. It helps you feel better. Exercise also helps ease anxiety and has been shown to stave off depression. But one seldom mentioned benefit of exercise is that it gives your brain an uninterrupted block of time in which you are allowed to mentally wander, think, reflect, reconcile, plan and dream. Not only are you reaping the physical benefits of exercise, giving yourself time and space for exercise has the added benefit of allowing yourself the opportunity to process everything that is going on in your life and to think about your future.
3. Get Up Early
Getting up early has the benefit of simply adding extra time to your day. It can be an opportunity to get your head on straight before the day officially begins. It can be a way to give yourself some time to think about what lays ahead of you for the day. Or maybe you can squeeze in a workout or meditate or do some other task early in the morning that you are too wiped out to do at the end of the day. Most people are most revived and refreshed in the morning so this is prime time to either reflect and plan in the pre-dawn hours, or to start to tackle your day head-on. Remember, early bird gets the worm!
4. Do the Hard Work First
It is fairly common for people to organize their days around “to-do” lists. These lists are great in that they help you to know what work or tasks need to be completed. However, with lists like this, many times people will pick the easiest tasks to accomplish first. This exposes you to the potential for procrastination on the hard stuff. When organizing your time for the day, pick tasks that are essential to your end goal. No doubt some things you have to do will be on the easy end of the spectrum, but be cognizant to also engage in work that is just plain hard, frustrating, and requires a lot of mental energy. Do this work at the time of the day when you are at peak performance.
For most people, this is in the morning, before their minds get bogged down for the day. Simply, start with the hard stuff while your tanks are full.
5. Break down complex goals into smaller tasks
Breaking things down into smaller pieces is a way to stop procrastination. While it is great to have big goals, big goals are undoubtedly complicated. The complexity of the big picture can many times seem overwhelming or too daunting. This might lead to feelings of “I don’t know where to start.” Take time to break down the scope of your large to-do list into a sequence of smaller, specific tasks. Now tackle the list, item-by-item, making sure that you tackle both the easy and hard stuff.
6. Be Unavailable for a While
Be unavailable by blocking out your calendar for an hour or two everyday so that you can accomplish uninterrupted work. Don’t take calls, don’t look at emails, don’t reply to texts, don’t schedule meetings, and certainly don’t check social media. Just close your door and work. Of course, depending on your work set-up, you might need to explain this blocked out chunk of time, but just do it politely and consistently. People will catch on that you are unavailable because you are busy being productive. Otherwise, interruptions will slow you down and steal your momentum.
7. Don’t Multitask
While the idea of multitasking seems great on the surface – do several things at once to get more accomplished – multitasking ultimately leads to reduced productivity because your brain has trouble thinking about more than one thing at a time. It is so tempting to try to do several things at a time especially as technology increases our ability multitask. But, the idea that multitasking leads to increased productivity is a myth. Multitasking actually results in a reduced attention span and can reduce your ability to regain focus on a single item. Our brain actually works slower when we try to do more than one thing at a time. It is better to give your full attention to one thing and do that one thing well, rather than to divide your attention amongst many things and end up with a sloppy result.
8. Find Shortcuts
Are there some things that you find yourself doing over and over? Look for ways to accomplish these repetitive tasks with minimal effort. This can be as easy as automating or delegating out repetitive tasks. For example, one thing that can make you much faster on your computer is to learn shortcut keys on your keyboard for repetitive tasks like copy-and-pasting. Or, if there are repetitive tasks in the office that can be accomplished by an intern or employee, delegate out and assign responsibility for these tasks. Finding shortcuts will save you time and energy, and you will be surprised at how much quicker and more efficient you become if you can find shortcuts in your work routine.
9. Don’t Wait for Inspiration to Hit
Does inspiration drive work, or does work drive inspiration? We believe the latter is true. Many times, people wait around for the feeling to hit, the mood to strike, the idea to go off like a light bulb. This can become the ultimate excuse not to start, and ultimately lead to procrastination. It is true, the hardest part of any project is getting started. But you have to start, even if you aren’t sure of where you are going. Once you get started, momentum builds. The truth is, that doing something often leads to doing more. But doing nothing, leads to nothing. Start the work, and motivation will flow. Once you get into the flow, ideas and inspiration will follow.
10. Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping will help you manage your energy, and we all know that it takes a lot of energy to chase our dreams! If you are exhausted due to lack of sleep, you will not have wherewithal to be productive. The fact is, being productive takes more than just managing time, it also takes the ability to manage your energy. When people complain about not having enough time to accomplish tasks, usually what they really mean is that they don’t have enough energy to do all that needs to be done! Their tanks are empty and they are spent. In order to take on intense and difficult tasks, you must have the energy to do so. Adding more hours to your working day will give you more time, but what you really need is energy. The foremost way to recharge and restore your energy level is to ensure that you get adequate sleep on a regular basis.