7 Things Highly Productive People Do Differently

— November 16, 2016

Thomas Edison said, “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.” We all want to accomplish more with the precious 24 hours we are given in a single day. After all, there is nothing better than walking out of work with the confidence that you accomplished everything you needed to. However, some of us aren’t that lucky. How is it that some people magically accomplish more and complete multiple projects without fail? The secret to success may be their approach.


Here are seven things successful people do differently to increase productivity:


#1: Skip the To-Do List


I am a constant list maker. To me, there is nothing more gratifying than crossing something off of my to-do list. However, most highly productive people ditch the to-do list in favor of scheduling their entire day in 15-minute blocks. Why? Because only 41% of items on to-do lists ever actually get done. Those uncompleted items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik Effect. So, the next time you start to make a to-do list, open your calendar instead and schedule out your work day.


#2: Eat That Frog!


We all have tasks we would rather not do (e.g., write the first draft of an upcoming press release or complete an expense report from a recent business trip). Instead of procrastinating and adding extra stress to your life, “eat that frog – do the task you find least appetizing or dread the most. By completing these items sooner rather than later, you can free up your day to focus on more exciting and inspiring work.


#3: Grab a Notebook


One of my first mentors taught me the importance of always carrying a notebook. As it turns out, this lesson is no profound secret. Productive people, like Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group, admit to carrying a notebook everywhere they go. They free their minds by writing everything down, whether it’s a new business contact’s information or an idea sparked by a brainstorm.


#4: Never Touch Things Twice


We’ve all done it – opened an email and flagged it because we would rather deal with it later. Unfortunately, this tactic is a huge time waster. Instead of taking work off of our plates, we are putting tasks into a holding pattern. Therefore, as soon as something gets your attention, take action by completing, delegating, or deleting it.


#5: Avoid Meetings


When asked his greatest piece of productivity advice, Mark Cuban responded, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings can take up 35% to 55% of your time without adding any value to your work day. Instead of scheduling unnecessary meetings, invest in tools like AnswerHub Knowledge-Driven Productivity (KDP) to allow your workers to capture and share knowledge, discuss new ideas, collaborate, and boost productivity without the need to sit in a conference room for an hour.


#6: Say No


“No” is a word most people are afraid to say at work. Research from the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is powerful in that it allows you to prioritize your work and gives you the opportunity to focus on existing commitments. Even billionaire Warren Buffett said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”


#7: Prioritize Life Outside of Work


No matter how much you complete in a single workday, there is always going to be more to do. Highly successful people understand this, but also realize there is more to life than work – time with family, hitting the gym, enjoying a lazy Netflix binge. Whatever it is that’s important to you, don’t neglect it – put it on your calendar! Mentally logging off at the end of the day and enjoying life will allow you to become more refreshed and productive in the long-term.


You don’t have to be superhuman to accomplish more each day. Start by mastering a few simple habits – such as eating the frog or carrying a notebook and pen – and the increase in your productivity might surprise you!

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Author: Caitlin Zucal


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