17 Surprising Things Highly Productive People Do Differently


There are two secrets to achieving success, one is luck and the other is skill. Being productive is one of those skills necessary for success.


Truth be told, there are too many things to do in a day for many of us who wants to achieve more. Being productive is not just getting the work done, but getting it well done. I ones thought about what was the difference between highly successful people and the unsuccessful people, I realised that it was a simple word, "Value".

Highly successful people give more value and so they are more rewarded. Wealth in this definition is the value you are able to render, not effort. You might use the effort of a whole life time to execute a project, but if no one is willing to pay for your effort, it is less valuable. So what makes you more successful and productive is your ability to do more with less time, or achieve better with equal time. I'm sure you can relate.

It is not always easy to get everything perfect, but many people through planning and continues effort have found ways to get more things done and save more precious time for things that are important. Most of these discoveries are among the list I have made below including my own discoveries that helps me get the job done. So below are 17 great tips on how to become more productive.

17 things highly productive people do differently

  1. They focus only on one thing at a time. Productive people acknowledge their Most Important Task [MIT] and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. Tom Ziglar,The CEO at Ziglar Inc., advised you should , “Invest the first part of your day working on your number one priority that will help build your business.” And generally,I will add that it must not only be business, it could be any other vocational activity or even for your personal life, activities like exercise, making essential arrangements and confirmation could be critical factors.____What task will have the biggest impact on attaining your goal? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work? What activities are you sure that if you repeatedly do them everyday will have the most significant impact on your life? Do it. And mostly try to do them at your waking hours.
  2. They don't always use to-do lists. Keep away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out only 40% of items on to-do lists are ever actually done. And all those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live from that calendar. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks. It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile…”, advises the cofounder of The Art of Charm, Jordan Harbinger. But if eventually it falls that you must use a to do list, then add time to it. You may say by 8:00 AM, I will be going to do a particular job and when I finish it by 12:30,i will do another thing. Assigning time to your activities is similar to using calendar. But the only time to use a to-do-list is when you daily routines has to change from what they use to be. Or you are the type that forget easily. What I do is that I check in my daily activities and then assign an alarm to those important activities that I can easily forget or that are emergencies.
  3. They beat procrastination with time travel. Your future self can’t be trusted. You can't hit the target you don't see. That’s because we are “time inconsistent.” We buy veggies today because we think we’ll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green rotting mush in the future. Someone bought P90x because they thought they are going to start exercising vigorously and yet the box sits unopened one year later. What can you do now to make sure your future self does the right thing? Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future or make errs , and come up with a solution to defeat your future self. A quote I ones read said, "expect problems and eat them like breakfast. So what you need to do is to look into the future and imagine all the worst case scenario that will probably befall you or your business and make sure it doesn't happen and even if they happen what will be the next wise action to beat such situation.
  4. They use a notebook. Ideas keep coming like the wave, you never can tell when they might pop up, so having a notebook can help you jut them down. Brian Tracy said " we receive at least one or more ideas every day that can make us millionaire." highly successful people know that ideas Don't stop coming so they always have a note to write them down. Why do you think we go to seminars with jutter or notes? Our mind even as efficient as it is, can easily forget, so noting things down for reminders can be helpful towards boosting your overall productivity at work and personal life.
  5. They process email only a few times a day. Ultra-productive people don’t always check their email throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has inboxed them. Instead, like everything else they do, they schedule time to process their email quickly, depending on the number of emails they receive. This could be done ones daily and sometimes that ones is enough or if necessary, twice.
  6. They avoid meetings at all costs.
  7. When someone asked Mark Cuban to give him his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings are bad time killers. They start late, waste time in their topics and run longer than is reasonable. You should get out of meetings whenever you can, hold fewer of them yourself, and if you do run a meeting, keep it short don't waste other peoples time.
  8. They say “no” to almost everything. Yes, they say no" a lot. Remembering how limited your time is, this will help you say no to most of those time consuming activities. Warren Buffet, CEO Berkshire H. once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything. you only have 1,440 minutes in every day. Don’t give them away easily. Say no to many stuffs and activities that doesn't necessitate your goals and purpose, every other thing have to wait till after the major things are done and if you check it from the productive persons point of view, nothing else is worth your time except those unavailable essentials. Every other avoidable has to be put to the rare and most often, avoided.
  9. They follow the 80/20 rule. This rule is also Known as the Pareto Principle, the rule states that in most cases in life situations and at jobs 80% of results comes from only 20% of activities. And result is everything. Highly productive people know which activities drive the greatest results, and focus on those and ignore the rest. So you just check those of your activities that you know that if you do them extremely well will produce major of your results, then engage more on those activities.
  10. They delegate almost everything. Expecially those that they are not expert in.
  11. You may have multi skills in a field but having more hands deliver or execute those skills will save more time. For instant if you are a good house builder who knows all the required skills to build a house from carpentering works to molding of blocks, instead of doing all this yourself you can hire other people and then focus on one, this will save more time. Highly productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead they ask, “How can this task get done? And most often, "How can this task get done quickly ” they realise the power of specialisation and so they take the “I” out of it as much as they can. They only look for the best possible means to do their task well or achieve their goals and look for the best means to achieve it which may require hiring people or paying to learn new skills or even using the most efficient machine . So instead of doing everything themselves highly successful/productive people focus only on those things they can do exceptionally well and deligate the the rest to those who can do them better. They also make use of better tools and machines that are faster or that produces better results.
  12. They divide days of the week to suit their activities. Highly successful people often theme days of the week to focus on major areas. For many years I’ve used “Mondays to Thursdays for serious work ”, "and weekends for washing". And scheduling meetings for Sundays after service/church. Someone wrote about Jack Dorsey’s work themes, which enable him to run two companies at once. He shares the week in between the two companies. Share and divide your work between the week-days to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness.
  13. They touch things just once.It is not only good to begin but to finish, completion give us a sense of satisfaction. Instead of doing their work halfway and jumping to another, ultra-productive people engage on a task and make sure it gets done. Being a finisher is an attribute of a productive person. There's no better road to frustration than the knowledge that you don't finish what you began. What's the point in starting it in the first place when you know you are not going to finish it. So when next you engage in a task, by all means finish it. Another obnoxious distraction that the modern world brought is the mobile notification apps, so I prefer you turn them off, and provide/allocate special time to check you messages, or read your emails.
  14. They practice a consistent morning routine. Action produces results, successful people knows those first activities that prepares them for the day and makes them a habit. Successful people has morning rituals they engage daily, such as exercise, reading motivational books, meditation or prayer. And then starting the day with the best food that suits them best. All you need to do is to work on you self especially on those first hours of the day so that you can be able to face the day with more grip. So instead of sticking to brushing, eating and dressing for work, wake a little more earlier than usual, and then, add a mind building program or activity to your morning routine. It will make your whole day a lot more easier, fun, positive and more importantly, productive.
  15. They maintain constant energy.Without energy, efficiency automatically depreciates. Highly productive people knows this so they try to keep up their energy level. If you are doing work that demands more energy and physical effort you need more calorie intake to keep up energy level for efficiency. Even if your work don't demand much of physical activities you will also need some level of calories to be able to think clearly. I found that I'm able to think clearly when I eat well. Also get hydrated by drinking enough water. Another way to maintain a high level of energy is to have ample rest, provide time to recreate, relax your muscles, sleep and rest. Positive thinking can also be helpful in keeping up your energy level. Too much worry and anxiety can weaken you by increasing stress level.
  16. They seek constant improvement Self improvement has no "finish" in life, highly productive people know this and so they work on themselves and make sure that they are getting better, Bill Gates said it best when he said, "Information has a shelf-life of a Banana". And so is self improvement, it never ends, you need to keep getting better, by learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge to get better at what you do . If you are not getting better in this fast moving world then you are getting worse. Every business is changing at the speed of light, if you don't improve you will soon go out of business. New machines, styles and tools are being developed almost on yearly basis and getting acquainted with them should be your priority , Zig said "don't wish it was easier, wish you were better."
  17. They look for the most important things and work on them. It is not only good to focus on one thing at a time but to focus on the right thing. Highly productive people focus on their most important task and work on it making sure it's complete. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook said, "the question I ask myself like almost everyday is what's the most important thing I should be doing right now". The fact is that we have too many things to do and too little time. So you know you have many things to do in a day,instead of trying to do anything that comes your way, look for those important task that you are sure if they are done well will produce the kind of result you want, do those ones and then allocate the remaining time to other less important task. Never forget, "there is a huge line between" being active" and "being productive".
  18. They are passionate people. Highly productive people love what they do, without passion it is very difficult to give your job all the effort it demands, the rule is simple here, "Love what you do or do what you love", look at what Warren Buffett, a very passionate investor said, "I wouldn't mind going to jail if I had three cellmates who played bridge. … The approach and strategies [of bridge and stock investing] are very similar." he loves investment so well that he can do anything similar to investing even if it could be done in a prison. So you got to develop passion for what you do , if not for the fun, then enjoy it for the money. And one should be passionate about anything that pays one.
  19. They often focus on minutes, not hours. There are 1,440 minutes in every day and there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and be made again, but time spent can never be regained. You must master your minutes to master your life.Average performers default to hours and half-hour blocks on their calendar. Highly successful people know how limited time is and they also know there is nothing more valuable than time. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller said in an interview , “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” To master your life, you must master your time. So instead of focusing on the fact that their are 24 hours which will create tension on your mind just focus on the other congruent fact that there are 1,440 minutes in each day, and by using them wisely you can achieve a lot.

Final thought... 

Being productive, which means "achieving something"  is different from being "busy".

 So when next you have a task at hand, or even when you start a new day, begin with the end in mind. How will this day end, how will this week, month, year, next ten to twenty years end, then by all means, channel all your energy to those activities that will produce the kind of result you desire.
Remember, "Result is everything," and "it is not how far, but how well". Having a goal, making a plan and taking constant action on your plan, then putting all your attention in the present action will maximise productivity and looking back you have walked a distance.
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