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5 Habits of Highly Productive People

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world today. With Twitter, SMS texts, video calls, and plenty of other distractions, it’s understandable that some things don’t get done like you’d intended during the day. Yet some people always seem to come out on top. What are their secrets? What habits do they have that make them consistently productive?

1.      Highly Productive People Don’t Multitask

To be a team player, many managers like to hear how you can effectively multitask multiple projects. If you’re switching back and forth between different jobs every 15 minutes, however, you’ve got a recipe for getting nothing done very quickly. Your brain reacts negatively to multiple switches, so highly productive people will focus in on one task, complete it, then start on the next task. The myth that people who multitask is simply not true.

2.      Set Realistic Tasks for Yourself

What are the things that you need to get done today? If you’ve got macro-goals listed, then chances are you’re not going to accomplish them whatsoever. Macro-goals, or the completion of a major project, are generally not completed in a work day. Instead, look for micro-goals that you can complete, which are the tiny steps required for the macro-goal to be realized. You’ll feel like you accomplished a lot more in a day if you can accomplish several micro-goals instead of zero macro-goals. Inch by inch, life is a cinch.

3.      Schedule Time for Your E-mail

One of the worst distractions there is today is the e-mail. Many people have a work account, a personal account, and a mobile account that will all notify you when you’ve got a new message. Instead of immediately responding to each and every e-mail you receive immediately, set two or three times during the day where you dedicate yourself to answering messages. This will help you be more effective with your answers… and more effective with your other work. Some very successful people actually turn off their email notifications so that they are not constantly being distracted.

4.      Don’t Let Your Day be Dictated

If you know that you’ve got specific goals that need to be accomplished, then work on your own terms and get that stuff done! The world won’t end if someone needs to have a request delayed for 24 hours in most circumstances in most jobs. There might always be that emergency situation that demands an immediate response, but for the most part, you can control how people influence you. Ignore the negative, focus on the positive.

5.      Work Smarter, Not Harder

Have you ever felt tired after a long meeting? Do you feel hungry after a creative session? Your brain consumes a lot of glucose during the work day and long sessions of output can actually drain you of the ability to create a professional level of work. Every hour or so, get up, grab a snack or something to drink, walk around for a few minutes, and then let yourself get back to work. The short break will help you produce more, with better quality, and that will make everyone happy and you more productive.

Develop the Habit of Being Organized

 

Have you ever noticed that certain people seem to be highly organized, despite having a rather chaotic lifestyle? It’s not because these people have been blessed with insane amounts of energy… it’s because they have learned the skill of being organized. The good news is that anyone can learn this skill as long as they are willing to put in a little work to make it happen.

Here are the steps you can take to work on developing this skill for yourself:

Write things down: Unless you happen to have a picture-perfect memory, chances are you’re going to forget details of things. By taking a couple moments to write things down instead of trying to memorize everything, you’ll actually eliminate stressors from your life. Keep a notepad to jot down appointments, names, or phone numbers, then input them into your calendar and contacts.

Don’t allow clutter: It’s easy to put something down on a counter or a table because you’re busy. The problem is that once you allow a little bit of clutter, it can quickly multiply. Unless you use something every day, like your blender or the coffee pot, make clutter be against the rules.

Everything has its proper place: We all tend to have a junk drawer somewhere. It’s the drawer where all the miscellaneous stuff that hasn’t been assigned a home gets a home, right? The problem is that the junk drawer keeps expanding because more stuff doesn’t have an assigned spot. By making sure that there is a proper place for everything, you won’t have a junk drawer… and you’ll have less mess as well.

Don’t leave a room empty handed: How many times do you move from room to room in your home every day? How much stuff could get put away on a consistent basis if you just took one thing that was out of place and put it back into its proper place? No matter how hard we try to keep things put away, there’s always something that is invariably not where it’s supposed to be. This solves that problem.

Be proactive about filing: It’s easy to just toss something into a pile that needs to be filed. It seems like it saves some time. The problem is that it doesn’t – in fact, it wastes time because you’re stuck searching through piles for specific paperwork, bills to pay, and correspondence that needs to be addressed. Taking a few minutes to file each day can help to keep that clutter down effectively.

Purge: Some things you need to keep for a few years to make sure your taxes are in order in case you get audited. Other stuff you might want to save for memories. Then there are the things that you don’t need to save whatsoever. If you don’t need it, then get rid of it. As for clothing, if you buy something new, then donate something that is gently used from your closet.

Plan: A routine is a beautiful thing to have because it can help you keep your day planned out as much as possible. By keeping to your routine, you’ll find that there is more time for everything because you’re able to focus on accomplishing one thing at a time. Being able to check things off of your schedule can help you from duplicating certain items as well, like thinking you haven’t paid the cell phone bill and then finding out that you did.

These are the steps that today’s highly organized people take on a daily basis. Rather than having a lot of energy to spend, a small time investment is made to effectively plan out a day and then that plan is kept as good as it possibly can be. That’s the secret to staying organized – by being proactive about it.

Using the Pomodoro Technique To Increase Productivity

 

It never fails that when you want to get something done right away, the phone will ring or an urgent e-mail will come through. Perhaps your computer is up and you’re multi-tasking new tweets, looking through your friend’s baby pictures, and trying to get some work done in-between all of that. With all of the alerts that today’s technology can sound, it’s no wonder it can be a struggle sometimes to get a specific project completed in a short amount of time!

This Is Where the Pomodoro Technique Can Help

If you’re having trouble focusing on getting a specific task done, then the Pomodoro technique can help you work on getting more work done… assuming you’ve turned off all of the distractions that can take you away from that work! Here’s how the Pomodoro Technique works:

  1. Pick the project that has the highest priority at this very moment.
  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  3. When the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break.
  4. Repeat the above steps three more times.
  5. Take a 25 minute break after 4 total 25 minute work cycles.
  6. Repeat the above steps until the project is completed.

Why use this method? Because it can be difficult to focus on the work we might need to do because we might not want to get it done. Rather than focus on a negative work experience, it is often easier to actually focus on focusing.

Why Use 25 Minute Cycles For Work?

The human attention span is wired to an average focusing session of about 25 minutes. When we go beyond this amount of time, the brain begins to shut down, wander, or focus on something else. By taking a 5 minute break, you are allowing your brain to reset itself to begin another focusing cycle. In those 5 minutes, you can do anything: check e-mails, update your social platforms, or simply sit back at your desk and kick your feet up. Just don’t work.

Too Much Activity Rewires the Brain… In a Bad Way

Why does it seem that attention spans are shorter than ever before? It’s possibly because the constant multi-tasking that we’re asked to do in today’s work and home environments is actually training the brain to focus for a shorter amount of time on a large amount of different things. That’s why some people flip between e-mails, then project work, then status updates, then phone calls, then project work, and so forth. Instead of getting one thing completely accomplished, you end up getting a few things kind of accomplished. Using the Pomodoro technique can help you start to reset your brain so that you can focus more on something that really doesn’t have a negative component to it.

Some Distractions Have To Be Negotiated

It can be impossible to remove distractions from certain work environments, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them bother you. If you have constant office talk around your work space, some headphones and a MP3 player could help remove them so you can then focus on using the Pomodoro technique. Using this technique might seem like a small change, but it could bring you some big results. Why not give it a try today?

Are You a Responsive Person?

When somebody asks you a question, how do you typically respond? Do you ignore that question because it seems silly? Do you attempt to answer the question in a thoughtful or informative way? For many managers, being appropriately responsive to specific situations is one of the most important qualities that they seek to find in prospective employees. If you don’t respond well or maybe even over-respond during unique situational circumstances, chances are you’ll be passed over for someone else. Here’s how you can make sure that your responses are in sync with what your employer may want to see from you:

 How Responsive Do You Need To Be?

One of the best ways to determine how responsive you need to be in any given situation is to segment out all of your contacts, like you can do with Google circles. Your general acquaintances may need one level of response, for example, while your direct supervisor might need another level of response from you. Of course this isn’t something that you need to publicize – simply determine what level of responsiveness is appropriate for each circle and then stick to what you develop.

How Responsive Do Others Need To Be To You?

In order for any relationship to be healthy, you need clear guidelines and expectations that are accepted by all of the parties involved. If you have a new client, start working for a new supervisor, or you get a new partner, it’s very helpful to clarify what expectations you have for them… and vice-versa. This creates a contract that will have everyone happy, as long as it is followed, that is.

Express Your Own Expectations of Responsiveness

If you have people who report to you, it’s important for them to know what you need from them in terms of responsiveness. The same is true for any vendors with whom you may work, other business associates, and partnerships that have a direct relationship with you. If everyone knows what the expectations are, then there is a certain level of accountability that can be had that helps projects get done much more quickly.

Be Proactive In Terms of Your Responsiveness

The nature of humanity is that we are all imperfect at some point during the day. We might not be able to respond to someone as quickly as we had initially anticipated. We might violate the responsiveness contracts that we have created with others. If we can give people a heads up when we know we’ll miss an expectation or follow-up with people who have miss our own expectations, we’ll be able to keep a relationship healthy.

You don’t have to be the same thing for everyone. It’s really not possible to be everything for everyone in this modern age. It is important, however, to set boundaries, communicate these boundaries, and follow through with your responsibilities. This can help you be the responsive person that you may need to be.  

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