Be One of the Productive People

“When you waste a moment, you have killed it in a sense, squandering an irreplaceable opportunity. But when you use the moment properly, filling it with purpose and productivity, it lives on forever.” - Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Highly productive people know how to get the most out of the 1,440 minutes in their day. And they don’t work through lunch and sleep only four hours either. There are many effective approaches to doing more, but perhaps most importantly, productive people know how to prioritize.

According to Warren Buffet, that means they say No. A lot. “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

And why is that? As Author and CEO, Paul Rulkens explains in the Fast Company Article, 12 Habits of the Most Productive People, high performers understand the difference between urgent and important. Rulkens says."80% of what you do doesn’t matter, Instead, they focus on the 20% that does and apply their efforts there.”

And what do they do with the other 80%? I mean, someone’s gotta do it, right?  Turns out, they delegate. A common hallmark of a productive person is someone who asks not, “How can I do this task?” But instead, “How can this task get done?” Much of the time that involves enlisting others. Preferably those who find the delegated tasks in their own important 20% zone.

Of course, being willing to delegate means being willing to empower others and let go of the result. This means productive people are not perfectionists. They understand and embody the Voltaire quote: “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

When it comes to those tasks they are doing, they tend to finish the most challenging during their personal peak times when they’re most alert and innovative. According to author, Brian Tracy, in his best-selling Eat That Frog! that time for most of us is first thing. Not only because you’re alert, but also because once the most challenging task is done, it frees up mental energy and makes future tasks more manageable by comparison.

So those are their varied work mindsets, but what about their behaviors and habits? Here’s what they’re doing differently when out accomplishing their important 20% activities.

They are:

  • Setting deadlines because even self imposed deadlines improve task performance.
  • Scheduling tasks down to the day, hour and minute (vs. just having a list). One good reason for this is to avoid the Zeigarnik Effect, which is the experience of intrusive thoughts about incomplete tasks. The giant To Do list can undermine priority, productivity and peace of mind.  
  • Focusing on one thing at a time. See above and also see every study ever about the myth of multitasking.
  • Eliminating distractions like checking email constantly, hearing social media notifications and answering texts in real time. Productive people know how to Kill the Productivity Killers.
  • Taking Breaks. Muscling through means a dip in productivity. According to this study by the the Federal Aviation Administration short breaks at works result in a 16% improvement in awareness and focus.

And finally, no one will be surprised to learn that productive people take the routine and discipline of their work lives home with them and exercise, eat right, meditate and get enough sleep. They also make time for what they value.

Are they perfect?  No way.  They’re out there failing left and right.  But, of course, they see failure as part of learning. So, maybe they are kind of perfect.


Human Unlimited
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