14 Things Highly Productive People Do Differently

I was prompted to write this post as I am finding the post-holiday return to discipline quite challenging.  I heard somewhere that it takes 30 days to build a habit, and 1 day to lose it.  Time to get the habits back again for 2013.

14 Ways to Get Things Done

  1. Start the day slowly – Ken Blanchard told me how here.
  2. Do in sprints – The Pomodoro technique is explained here. (Page 2, Self-Discipline)
  3. Say No More – Say “No” to most requests.  Often the best way to say “no” doesn’t use the word “no”. More on saying “no” here.
  4. Double up on Priorities (throw in the €50) – Life gives you little nudges, but you must choose the sacrifice.  More on chosen sacrifice.
  5. Create barriers (email, phone, social media) – Jim Collins keeps away from all digital devices before midday. More on Jim Collins 3 tools for productivity here.
  6. Remove Waste – Stop doing stuff that is no longer relevant.  Close the chapters.
  7. Read – You must out-learn the competition.
  8. Rest before you Need it – Ernest Hemmingway would always stop his writing mid-sentence to take a break.  When he returned, it was much easier to get started again.  Stop before you are finished.
  9. Take proper breaks – Walk away from the computer.  More on rest and sleep here.
  10. Use the right tools – Hammers work on nails, not on screws.
  11. Ask Questions – How to ask better questions here.
  12. Work with A Players – Your scarce resource is not time, it is energy.  You have limited energy.  Some people suck it, some people are neutral, and some help you find even more.  Florian Mueck helps me find more.  How to find A players?
  13. Use the gaps – Do your little admin tasks in the 5 minute gaps.  Productive people get the necessary crap done in the 10 minutes waiting before a meeting, in the 4 minutes waiting for a friend to arrive for lunch.  If you call your bank in the gap, the 2 hours of time for productive creation can really be spent on creation.
  14. Ship when done, not when perfect – This is my Achilles Heel.  I don’t know how to solve it.  Any ideas?  I will be most grateful.  My book project is often blocked by the search for perfection, not the acceptance of good enough.

What else am I missing?  What gets you into productive mode?  What signals help you see when you are becoming un-productive?

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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