Why is it that some people seem to achieve more in a day than the rest of us do in a week? Are they just that much more dedicated or focused? Or are they somehow superhuman?
It turns out, there are several habits that productive people have in common — and like any habit, they’re ones anyone can learn to adopt.
If you want to squeeze some more productivity into your day, try cultivating these habits:
- Avoid Multitasking
OK, admit it: How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? If it’s more than one or two, you may be guilty of multitasking. And who among us isn’t? But research shows that we actually lose focus and productivity every time we switch between tasks. Rather than getting things done faster, it actually decreases our productivity.
Try this: Try setting a timer for 15, 20, or 50 minutes and focus on a SINGLE task for that time period. When your time is up, take a break, look at social media, and then attack your next task for a similar time period.
- Do your most challenging work when you’re at your best.
The most productive people understand their own body rhythms and understand that we each have a block of time during the day during which we feel the most “on.” By scheduling the most challenging or creative work during that time, you’re more likely to get into flow and produce better work more efficiently. Save checking email and returning phone calls for your afternoon slump.
Try this: Try a method called time blocking to block out hours of your day for different tasks, blocking your most productive hours for your most challenging work.
- Understand what’s important.
Productive people understand that some work is deep work, while other is surface work. Things that seem urgent, but aren’t actually that important, can take up huge chunks of time in the average person’s day. But the very productive person understands which tasks are actually important, and works accordingly.
Try this: Use Stephen Covey’s Important/Urgent time management matrixto help prioritize your work.
- Delegate and ask for help.
Productive people aren’t superhuman. They often simply know when and how to delegate and ask for help. I recently chatted with an entrepreneur who is also a mom, and she had outsourced her laundry to a service and ordered groceries online. By delegating these chores to others, she freed up more time in her day for tasks only she could do.
Try this: Make a list of tasks that you could delegate or outsource and try asking for help on just one of them.
- Take care of yourself.
While it seems like productive people must be always working, they actually are more likely to take breaks, exercise, have good sleep habits, and priorities self-care. That’s because they understand that they are their most important asset — and taking care of that asset is a top priority.
Try this: What have you been letting slide in terms of taking care of yourself? Can you commit to leave work at a certain time, go to bed earlier, or work out every day? Make a commitment to your own well being.
- Make a plan.
Many of the most productive people take the time to plan out their days either first thing in the morning, or the night before. That way, they avoid wasting time during the day trying to decide what needs to happen next.
Try this: Get in the habit of checking your calendar and to-do list right before you leave work for the day, and make a plan for what you need to accomplish tomorrow.
If you can adopt even a baby-steps version of one of these habits, you too can easily become a more productive person and have people asking, “How does s/he do it all?”
By Bernard Marr (Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert)