Top 7 Secrets of Highly Productive People
A colleague of mine is rarely in the office, but he seems to get everything done on time. Many of us, however, slug our butts off in the office taking little to no breaks but still struggle to get things done on time. My 8-hour workdays extend to 12 and sometimes 16 hours. I wonder “Am I being overworked by my boss?”
While attending a seminar at my local convention center, the speaker at the event said, “The employees who work till late are usually the most unproductive.”
I was offended by this statement.
After letting some steam off, I wondered, maybe the speaker has a point. After a bit of introspection, I figured there is a difference between being productive and being busy. I decided to speak to my colleague who is barely in the office, shows up late, leaves early, but still manages to get more work done.
Here is what I gathered from my conversation with her. I do believe these could be the secrets of highly productive people.
1) Know your direction
A wise man once said, “If your goal is to summit Mount Everest, make sure every step you take is towards Mount Everest.”
Unproductive people do not have goals, and they spend their days wandering around aimlessly. So write down your goals on a sheet of paper and map out a timeline to achieve them. Then circle your most important goal for the day, and write down every single task that takes you towards this goal. If you achieve just one goal a day, in a year, you would’ve achieved 365 goals. Not bad right?
2) Learn to say no
Not every task we do throughout our workday is important. A lot of activities like checking email, browsing your social media pages, Whatsapp conversations can be completely eliminated. If most of your work is on a computer, you can track your work activities by using time-tracking softwares.
Warren Buffet, one of the greatest investors of all time said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Trim down the bulk of your tasks. Do only the tasks that take you towards your daily goal.
A radical resolution is to unfollow every single person on your social media profiles. You should be following zero people.
Social media takes up a lot of mental and emotional space. We see feeds that make us angry because we don’t agree with someone. We see pictures of people having a perfect vacation and begin to wonder how wonderful our lives could be. All this takes up a lot of our emotional energy. It’s not just about avoiding clutter in our physical space; it’s also about avoiding clutter in our mental space.
When you unfollow everyone of social media, your social media feeds will be empty. It will free up a lot of mental space and allow you to focus your energy on more important things.
3) Focus on one thing at a time
Multi-tasking can be a great skill, but it can put unnecessary pressure on you and cause stress. So focus on one task at a time. Once you complete a specific task, only then should you move on to the next task. Sometimes, you might be better off completing your smaller tasks before moving on to tasks that take more time to complete. Using intuitive management tools like monday.com can help you organize your tasks so that you can stay focused on the most critical tasks.
4) No meetings
Meetings are the biggest time killers. Most meetings don’t add much value. Try to avoid meetings as much as possible. When I first started in business, I thought meetings were great. But soon I realized meetings are a complete waste of time. Rarely, anything ever gets achieved in a meeting.
If you want to communicate something, give that person a call. If you need to do a group discussion, conference calls should do the work.
If you are a big fan of meetings, try to keep them as short as possible. Be clear about your agenda and stick to it. The only exception to this rule is if you are in sales and want to build a relationship with a client, then you may need to do a few face-to-face meetings to build rapport and establish a connection.
5) Keep your physical surroundings tidy
Have you walked into someone’s house or office, and seen that there are things scattered all over the place? That’s an untidy person. I was one of them.
How does that affect productivity?
Untidy people are usually unorganized and take time to find stuff. They are not sure where they have put their keys, important papers, or even their wallet. A lot of time goes into searching. They are usually playing Sherlock before leaving for the office and are catching up throughout the day.
Just imagine the amount of time you can save by being organized. No more searching. The trick to this is fewer things. Many of us have piled up stuff over the years and haven’t made the time to discard the things we no longer use. Take some time to discard all the things you no longer use and keep only the things you absolutely need. When you have fewer things, it’s easier to organize them.
6) Socialize and do something for fun
All work and no play can slow you down. Human beings are social creatures; we need to do fun activities to stimulate our brains. Take time off work from time to time and do things just for fun. It’ll help you rejuvenate and come back with more energy.
7) Reduce your decision making
Decision making takes a lot of time and energy out of a person. Simple decisions like what to wear, and what to eat can take up more emotional energy than you think.
Barack Obama is said to have just two colors of suits; black or gray. Why? Because it is one less decision to make. Another great entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, is supposed to have worn the same outfit every day. A lot of successful people have the same schedule over an entire lifetime because they can make a decision once and stick to it for a lifetime.
Being productive is about discipline and staying away from unnecessary distractions. The most productive people focus on fewer things and stay away from activities that are not important.