Do you work incredibly hard with little to show for it at the end of the day? Are you secretly envious of people who seem to get more done in even less time? Perhaps it’s time to change the way you think about how things should be done.
Everyone isn’t born knowing how to be productive – it’s a habit and a skill. Successful people develop productivity practices through years of trial and error.
The good news is that you don’t need complex systems or expensive tools to improve productivity.
Here are a few simple habits that productive people have in common. They can change how you work and help you achieve your goals faster.
1. Keep Pareto’s Principle in mind
The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) suggests that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
It is often referenced in business as an axiom which asserts that “80% of sales come from 20% of clients.” The Pareto Principle suggests that we focus on the 20% of our efforts to yield the biggest results. It infers that we should focus on high yield tasks that net the greatest output.
Review your to-do list and goals. Then arrow the tasks down to those that have the potential to deliver the greater impact.
2. Create an intentional morning routine
Early birds can attest to the power of mornings. You are refreshed from a good night’s sleep, and the world is waking to a clean slate and a new dawn of day.
Many people feel they’re most productive during the early morning hours partly because there are fewer distractions. Use this to your advantage and form a positive morning habit.
For example, eat a healthy breakfast to nourish your body or do some light exercise to get your blood pumping. Listen to an inspirational podcast or meditate. A strong morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Some people even suggest working on that 20% (i.e., Pareto’s Principle) before you step out of your house. Aside from the renewed energy and fresh ideas, you’ll feel more accomplished as you face your day. Give it a try and see how an intentional morning routine can influence the rest of your day.
3. Focus on your minutes
You only get 1,440 minutes each day, so you need to utilize them. Instead of planning your day by 30 minute or 1hour intervals, consider breaking your tasks down into minutes. Be mindful of your minutes when you create schedules and go about your day. A positive sense of urgency goes a long way.
4. Help your future self
Pre-empt future behaviors by doing things right now. The goal is to influence your future behavior. For example, if you know that you have trouble getting ready each morning, before you sleep, prepare as much as you can to lessen the time required for morning tasks. Perhaps, you’re prone to spending hours on social media? Remove the app shortcut from the home screen of your phone, or uninstall the app. This way, your future self won’t have easy access to it.
5. Stop multitasking
Multitasking is a productivity illusion. A lot of people take pride in being multitaskers. But the truth is, multitasking slows you down. You lose momentum every time you switch tasks. Instead of multitasking, address each task as it comes to you.
Pre-planning is needed to pull this off. Work on the immediate tasks that don’t take a lot of time. Get rid of unnecessary distractions. Free yourself to work on that 20% that yields the greatest results.
6. Enlist the help of others
Delegate and outsource as much as you can. Successful people don’t do everything themselves – they find people that can do it for them.
Don’t try to be an expert at everything. Find that person who is a specialist and subject-matter expert. Work together so you can achieve your goals faster.
Arthur Worsley is a productivity coach and writer who helps top young execs and entrepreneurs achieve game-changing results in their work without giving up the rest of their lives. His favourite productivity tool is his daily planner. “Look after the days and the years will look after themselves.”
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