I recently made a big change in my working style. I moved full-time to a home/remote office. It is fun to imagine that I can get the washing done while working and reclaim my evenings, but it also poses some productivity challenges. No matter what your working conditions happen to be, as adults simultaneously juggling a dozen projects and our families, we have no other option than to find ways to be more productive. How do successful people manage? What is their mantra? I am summarizing these life hacks, taking inspiration from those who have mastered the act. Here are the top eight habits of highly productive people.
The Eight Habits of Highly Productive People
1. Define your productivity zones: Are you a morning person, or do you work better in the quiet of the night? Do you work best in an office, or do you need to sit in a coffee shop to come up with your best ideas? Everyone has their own style, and can decide based on what works best for them. The most productive people evaluate and know what works for them and then stick to it. The secret is to create the routines that work best for you.
2. Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. After knowing ourselves and our project/overall context, we are generally good predictors of our own behavior to determine realistic deadlines. And set targets that are specific enough for us to avoid rework or get an easy out.
3. Include breaks: People working at a 100% capacity are eventually going to burn out. Many companies, including Google, talk about achieving an 80% productivity level and having the rest of the time to recuperate and pursue side projects. There is a logic to this. Our bored selves tend to be our most creative. Who has not heard that the best ideas came in the shower, or while walking in the park!
4. Practice mindfulness: Nilofer Merchant quoted a great example on her blog yesterday which explains why mindful living has a direct impact on productivity and is also beneficial from an employer’s perspective leading to a LOT of productivity gains.
About 13,000 of the company’s 50,000 employees have taken either an eight-week mindfulness or yoga class. Those that stick with the programs report, on average “a 28% reduction in their stress levels, a 20% improvement in sleep quality and a 19% reduction in pain. They also become more productive, reclaiming an average of 62 minutes per week of working time, which Aetna estimates is worth $3,000 per employee per year.” (source)
5. Say “No”: Being overloaded by emails or in the thick of things with 10 projects in hand, or with a social plan to visit three weddings on the same Saturday in June will not work. You will not be able to do anything well, and will end up not being productive personally or professionally. It takes a lot to be able to draw boundaries, assert yourself, and say “no this looks difficult, but I can offer help in two week.” A much more realistic and polite, and much less stressful and overoptimistic response.
6. Eat the frog in the morning: I need to teach myself this more than anything else. As a practice, when I am working on multiple projects in a given week, I draw out a to-do list for my pin-board and work through my checklist. There are times where something that’s the least interesting part of my week (arranging paperwork for taxation for instance) is at the end of my list. Productivity gurus admit that eating the frog first thing in the morning tends to make us feel less stressed about it as the day/week progresses making us more productive. Time to leave that tax file behind me!
7. Control and prioritize emails: This is a no-brainer. Spending half of every day reading emails is not going to increase your productivity. Here are some starters:
- Email’s Not the Problem! (Hint… we are!)
- How to Come Home to Inbox Zero After a Vacation
- Oh the horror: What if you miss an important message?!
8. Use great tools: A few colleagues – true story – were talking to me one day and said, “Oh, but you post a lot on Twitter.” I post a few times a day. What they missed out on, however, was that I also use smart tools to help me to do this efficiently. I use tools to help me find information on the topics which interest me, tools to curate, and tools to share. All of these tools make life easier to the point that I do not understand why anyone would not use these tools for themselves! Start here: 10 Everyday Productivity Tools
What are your favorite productivity hacks? Please share them with us in the Comments section below!
About the author:
Upasna works as a Digital Storytelling Consultant with Unified Inbox. She is the Co-Founder of Content Marketing & Branding Firm, Brandanew. Her previous experiences include: Rocket Internet, Experteer and McKinsey & Co. She has been a blogger since 2003 and currently lives in Ludwigsburg, Germany.