17 Smart Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day
To be a productivity guru, you need a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort, according to Paul J. Meyer.
Here are 17 smart habits to adopt that will help you be your most productive self every day.
1. Book Time in Your Calendar for Tasks
Are to-do lists ruining your life? Do your to-do tasks never actually get done? That’s why I long ago ditched to-do lists.
Now, whenever I need to work on a high priority item (whether it’s creating a deck or writing an article), I set an appointment with myself in my own calendar. Think of it as a meeting of one where you will focus 30 minutes, an hour, or a couple hours of your day solely to one important project or task.
Does that mean you have to get everything done in that block of time? No. Just create another appointment and repeat until your task is finished.
2. The Unicorn Principle
You’ve probably heard about the Pareto principle — that 20 percent of your effort will produce 80 percent of your results, while the final 80 percent of your efforts will product the last 20 percent of your results.
Well, now let me introduce the Unicorn Principle.
In online marketing only about 1–2 percent of your stuff is really going to succeed. They will become what I call unicorns — magical content, ads, or offers that produce remarkable amounts of website traffic, engagement, and conversions.
The remaining 98 to 99 percent of your stuff are what I call donkeys — boring content, ads, and offers that most people really aren’t interested in.
Whenever you find something that works well, learn from it. Figure out why it worked and how you can apply the Unicorn Principle to repeat that success.
3. Repurpose Your Great Content
This leads us to content marketing. Whenever you discover that you have piece of unicorn content, figure out how you can clone that awesome idea and turn it into 10 or 20 new pieces of content.
Did you publish a blog post that got 10x more traffic than usual? Consider turning it into additional articles, videos, a webinar, infographics, a presentation, social media updates and ads, or whatever other forms of content you can think of.
Also, reuse a remarkable piece of content on other platforms, such as Medium or LinkedIn. Remember: even if your article does great, there are still many more people who haven’t seen it.
4. Work Less
Happy employees are more productive employees. But so many people are unhappy with their jobs.
Well, there’s the 8-hour workday. Plus useless meetings, overtime, commuting, after-hours emails, and so on.
Maybe it’s time for a paradigm shift where employees work less. We’re already seeing some companies starting to experiment with five-hour workdays. Could we see more of this in the future?
5. Work at Times You’re Most Productive
All rich and successful people start their day around 4 a.m., right? Um, no.
Work when YOU are most productive, whether that’s before the sun rises, right after lunch, or around midnight.
Just make sure to reserve those times every day for work. Start getting more stuff done!
6. Be an Intentional Procrastinator
I’m a procrastinator. That means I intentionally wait closer to a deadline before doing the work.
Doing things toward the end has two benefits: it forces urgency and focuses my mind. Procrastination helps me become a workhorse.
Another big benefit of procrastination: sometimes tasks get changed, become a lower priority, or just go away entirely. There’s nothing worse than doing a whole bunch of work and then getting that email from a client asking you to go in a new direction or telling you to completely ignore one of their requests.
7. Prioritize Your Tasks
We know multitasking is killing your brain. But how do you solve this problem?
One way is to use the Eisenhower Matrix:
This will help you decide whether you need to complete a task now, schedule time to do it later, delegate the task, or forget about it.
8. Let a Great Assistant Keep You Organized
Need some help keeping yourself organized (meetings, travel, etc.)? Are you doing things that you aren’t good at or don’t enjoy?
Hire an assistant. Find someone who can free up your time.
Once you have a great assistant, you can delegate tasks you don’t want to do and focus on things that will have the biggest impact and help your business grow.
9. Surround Yourself With Smart People
Jim Rohn had a great quote: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If you want to be more productive, surround yourself with smart, creative, and productive people.
10. Find Tools That Automate Repetitive Tasks
I’m allergic to doing stupid things over and over again. I’d rather write a program or find a tool that does it for me.
If you’re going to truly buy into the Unicorn Principle and focus on the 1–2 percent of things that will have the most impact, then you need help dealing with that other 98–99 percent.
11. Use Productivity Apps
Whether you need to manage your travel, social media accounts, advertising campaigns, or content creation, lots of apps promise to make you super productive.
12. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts can shave off a few seconds that will eventually add up to greater productivity.
Check out this helpful compilation of 60 keyboard shortcuts for Windows, Mac, popular Microsoft programs (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Google Chrome, and Gmail that will help you become a unicorn in an office full of donkeys!
13. Be More Efficient With Emails
Want to write emails with military precision? Take a cue from Kabir Sehgal, who shared some great tips on HBR, including:
- Use keywords in your email subject line.
- Include a short summary (a.k.a., “bottom line”) that explains the purpose of the email (the who, what, where, when, why, and how) and any required actions of the recipient.
- Keep it as short as possible.
- Ditch passive voice.
14. Do More Things You Enjoy
Hobbies are important. Nonstop work is a great way to burn out quick.
Find a hobby or pastime. Give you brain a rest.
Whether it’s exercise, reading a new book, or playing a musical instrument, lose yourself in something you love. You’ll be more productive when you work.
15. Ignore Sports
Just like news, I ignore sports. Why? Because I have no control over the outcome.
What I can do is focus on the stuff that I know I can have an impact on. I don’t lose hours out of my week discussing, reading about, thinking about, or watching the big game.
If something is important enough, it will become known.
16. Avoid Complaining!
Complaining is bad for you. We know this because? Science.
But it’s also a waste of time. As Eleanor Roosevelt put it: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Don’t be the source of negativity in the workplace. Not only will it hurt your productivity, but it will inevitably spread to those around you — your co-workers, clients, and prospects.
17. Quit Your Job
OK, you shouldn’t do this every day. But if you consistently find yourself less productive, maybe it’s because you’re not happy at your job.
If you’ve accomplished all you can, lost your passion, or if you’re feeling too comfortable, then maybe it’s time to quit your job.
More Productivity Tips!
Also be sure to check out:
- 23 Best Productivity Hacks of the Year
- 9 Tips to Be Super Productive in Your Home Office
- 5 Ways Incredibly Productive People Master Their Inner Procrastinator
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