Productivity is the key to success. The more productive you are, the more success you will experience. You can read hundreds of different tips claiming to give you the answer to living the life of your dreams, but in reality, it all boils down to productivity. No matter what advice you take, if it doesn’t maximize productivity, it is useless.
What you should also understand is that every person has a limit to how much he or she can output on any given day, and it will also vary from day to day. Human beings aren’t constant. We aren’t machines and even machines will break down without the proper maintenance -- maintenance, which takes time.
Therefore, to be as productive as possible, you have to understand yourself, understand what you want and what you need (two different things) and build a routine that allows you to perform at your peak with a bit of wiggle room. Wiggle room is important because – at least in my experience – feeling that you must do something is never as nice as feeling the desire to do something. Giving yourself some room to breathe is necessary, as it maximizes your productivity when you are on the grind.
Here are 10 habits of extremely productive people. Of course, these are not followed by all productive individuals, as people will create their own unique routines that best fit their ideal lifestyles and goals. Remember, the goal is always happiness. You don’t have to be miserable in order to be productive, but that does take a good amount of planning and focus. Tradeoffs do need to be made, as we all live in a world governed by space and time.
1. Regular Sleep Schedule
Our bodies are systems of habit. We like to get what we expect. This goes for our physical body as much as for our mind. A regular sleep schedule with sufficient hours of sleep (six to eight is ideal) will do wonders for your productivity. If you want to reduce stress and feel better overall, get some sleep and get sleep regularly at regular hours throughout the week.
2. Regular Workout Schedule
Not all productive people are health freaks, but they do all understand that for the mind to work at its maximum potential, the body requires physical exercise. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym, but if you can get 30 minutes every day of either cardio or calisthenics, you will love yourself for it and you will gain massive improvement in productivity. Ride a bike to work for a nice change of transportation and added exercise.
3. Working In Blocks
Efficiency is the backbone of productivity. Since we are limited to 24 hours in a day, shaving off a few minutes here and there can easily add up to an extra hour or two a day, which can be used for other purposes. One of the best ways to cut lost time is by working in blocks. It takes you time to unpack your laptop, get comfortable and to mentally prepare before you get in the zone and focus.
When you sit to get work done, group together three to four tasks that can be done in one sitting (may not be possible if tasks take more than 30 minutes each) and get them done in succession.
4. Avoidance Of Meetings
Meetings are incredible time killers. Why? They are always too long and, more often than not, completely off topic. If you can avoid meetings, do so. You can surely have a coworker fill you in on all the important topics covered, and as I mentioned before, there will likely be few things to mention. If you do need to attend or hold a meeting, make sure that the topics of discussion are clearly outlined beforehand and distributed to all attending parties. Then set a specific time -- no longer than 30 minutes -- and never go over the allotted time.
5. Scheduled Down Time
We can’t run on high forever -- doing so will literally kill you; it’s been done before. Take a look at Mozart. He killed his immune system by overworking and then died of what now is believed to be strep throat. You need to slow down from time to time and just chill; you are only human. What chilling entails is up to you. I sometimes like to just lie down and stare out the window for a bit of pure relaxation.
It isn’t just for yogis. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on the floor, but allowing your mind to clear itself is necessary if you want to push yourself to your limits. Your mind is not just an important tool; it’s THE tool. Treat it well and it will treat you well in return. Our minds often seem to be running on autopilot -- this can’t be allowed. You need to control your mind and thoughts as much as possible or risk getting lost in your stress and unnecessary worries.
7. Selective Social Interaction
Friends are a tricky topic for the extremely productive. We need to stay social to stay sane, but socializing often takes up more time than we can afford. The best method to practice is avoidance of all individuals who do not add to the joy in your life and focus on those who do. If you don’t care for them, ignore them. Not nice? Who cares? You clearly don’t and ignoring them will force them to find real friends. It's a win-win situation.
8. Hydration And Vitamin Intake
Drink water, lots and lots of water – preferably at least half a liter at the moment of waking up and then another two liters throughout the day. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Avoid drinking anything but water, coffee and tea. Sugar isn’t your friend. Vitamin supplements are also important. Most of us don’t eat a well-balanced diet and even when we believe we do, there likely is some nutrient we aren’t getting enough of. You need to feel good to work hard. Vitamins and water will help get you there. Also, be wary of too much caffeine. It dehydrates you and increases stress levels overtime.
9. No Differentiation Between Work And Life
Work is your life because work is your passion. If your work isn’t your passion, only a means of getting to your passion, then take it as a necessity and look at it in as positive a light as possible. Your work doesn’t suck because it is getting you to where you want to be. It’s necessary and unavoidable if you want to get to where you want to be, for the life you wish to lead.
Don’t distinguish between work and life. It is one in the same and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can release all that negativity you feel every time you think about all the work that needs to be done.
10. Positive Outlook With Constant Worst-Case Scenario Planning
Always think positive and never, ever allow negativity to make its way onto the scene. It takes practice, but over time you can become a very positive person. Make plans for the worst-case scenario, but avoid making lengthy plans for the best-case scenario. No scenario ever plays out the way you think it will and planning in too much detail is a waste of time.
Plan for the worst, plan for the next step you need to take. Focus on one step at a time and you will never be overwhelmed by the journey ahead of you. Only move from point A to point B and then plan for point C. Planning the next step doesn’t take as much time as most people think; it only takes time when you are trying to plan 80 steps ahead.
Eighty steps, which, by the way, are imaginary due to the fact that you never know the outcome that will present itself. Stay positive and only make short-term plans.
Photo credit: Bruce Almighty