Have you ever had this thought: why is it that some of your colleagues, despite working shorter hours and going home on the dot every day, are able to complete so much more work than you? Or why is it that someone with the same opportunity, time and setting could complete twice the amount of work that you do?
Are they just born faster, smarter and more talented?
It’s easy to dismiss your own incompetence with someone’s high-performing achievement, because blaming others feels so much better than working hard or smarter. But if you’ve decided not to lose out, and decide that it’s time to work for that promotion and pay raise you’ve been eyeing for, here’re the habits that highly productive workers do that you might not know.
If you prefer to watch the tips instead, here’s a video we’ve done:
No data? No problem. Read on then.
They set goals
It has been said again, and again and again: if you set goals, you’ll be much more productive than you can imagine. Productive people would already have goals, and every morning, they review their goals again—and they put it down to writing. According to a study, setting goals and writing them down could increase your pay by tenfold.
I would even go on to suggest that if there’s only one habit you need to develop, this is the one.
They set deadlines
Try this: put a deadline on every single task you do, even minute ones like writing an email. You’ll be shocked at how productive you’ve suddenly become. With a deadline in mind, you’ll be forced to stay focused as you need to complete your task within a specific period.
While most of us have deadlines in our work, they’re usually set by our bosses. Instead, to be productive, set your own deadlines for every task. Punish yourself if you don’t meet the deadline, and reward yourself if you complete your task earlier.
I won’t be surprised to know that you’re able to complete one month worth’s of work within one week. Like, really.
They count their time by the minutes
Here’s how you can spot the difference between a productive and a unproductive person: the productive ones count their time by the minute, while the non-productive one count their time by the day. Here’s one example:
Productive Person: “I’ll complete this within 38 minutes, and let’s have a meeting at 4:00 p.m. for exactly 12 minutes.”
Unproductive Person: “I’ll complete this in the morning, and let’s have a meeting in the afternoon.”
See the difference? The productive person is always very stingy with his time. It might seem annoying to others, but it generates results.
They sleep reasonable hours
Have you ever come across news article whereby a so-called high-performer says that he sleeps 3 or 4 hours a day? Or even worse—haven’t slept for two days?
Let’s face the truth: a well-rested person can complete ten tasks within one hour, while a tired person can only complete one task within one hour. Anyone who has worked long hours will know that productivity will drop after long hours, so it’s always better to sleep and recharge instead of dragging your work with unproductive hours.
Of course, there might be some people who could make do with little rest, but definitely not many of us.
They’ve focused. Very focused.
Have you worked on a task so intently that once you’re done, you feel tired, both physically and mentally? Yeah, that’s focus. A productive person would devote all this attention, time and focus on his task when he’s working on it, and not be distracted by anything. With focus, a one-hour task can become a ten-minute task.
Of course, sometimes, it’s difficult to do so when there’re so many ad-hoc tasks and meetings. But here’s the thing: the main distraction usually isn’t work-related. Just move on to the next point and you’ll get what I mean.
They keep a timesheet
Remember how stingy productive people are with their time? Yeah, that’s because some of them use a time-sheet. They’ll even record things like going to the toilet, because they’re trying to save as much time as possible. Ten 5-minute blocks will be almost one hour liao leh!
With the timesheet, they can tell exactly what tasks are taking up their time, and then from there, see whether they can remove some tasks or combine some of them together. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you reply to emails while you’re in the toilet! There’re many other stuff, like working on something else while in a meeting that doesn’t involve you much, or clearing all emails in the afternoon instead (so that you can clear more in one shot).
They have a to-do list…
…and they stick with it. Having a to-do list and doing them are two different issues altogether—if you have a to-do list that is always not struck off, then you might as well do a don’t-do list.
Here’s one trick: create a to-do list the day before, and leave some leeway for ad-hoc tasks. Whenever you’re tasked to do something, ask for the deadline so that you can decide whether it should be slotted into your to-do list that day, or you can slot it into another day.
There’re many apps that can do these; just download one of them.
One thing about to-do list is that they should never be carried over to the next day: many people like to find reasons excuses to push the tasks to the next day. Here’s the thing: if you push it once, you’ll push it every day, and you’ll never complete your tasks on time.
They never complain
If you’d have realized, a productive worker never says that he does not have enough time in a day. He understands that everyone has got 24 hours a day, and it’s a matter of getting more work out of the hours instead of getting more hours out for work.
Complaining wastes time, energy and most importantly, your emotions.
They have self-discipline
Once they’ve told themselves to do something, they do it. They’ll make no excuses, and like what Nike suggests, Just Do It.
I’m always surprised why so many people admit that they’re procrastinators and are proud of it. That kills self- discipline, and why won’t people just, you know, like choose self- discipline over procrastinating? If others can, why can’t you?
They develop all the habits mentioned above
Whether you’re productive or not depends solely on one thing: your habits. If you would just spend one month doing all of the above, you’ll have captivated the good habits and you’ll be the most productive worker in your office.
Of course, you can choose your habits of surfing Facebook and Instagram during office hours, and working hard after working hours. It’s a choice, not something that is forced upon you. What say you?
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