7 Habits of Highly Productive People

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Maybe you feel frustrated because you work hard but you don’t seem to reach the level of success you desire. Or perhaps you’ve hit a plateau and aren’t sure how to push through to the next phase of your project. Maybe productivity has become an issue and you’re just not sure what’s the best way to focus your time and energy.

In times like these, it can be helpful to seek advice from those who have made it to the top of their industry. What are they doing that you’re not?

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Take a look at some of these habits of successful people and see which ones you need to adopt:

1. Keep things simple

Much has been made of the Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg uniforms. Everyone knows what Steve Jobs wore to work every day- jeans and a black turtleneck. And Mark? Jeans and a grey t-shirt (sometimes a hoodie). Why does it matter what they wear? Well, it shows they didn’t want to spend time every morning picking out a tie and deciding which shoes to wear. This would take their attention away from their business and in the end, fashion didn’t make it to the priority list.

By eliminating small tasks that would end up clocking hours per year in basic tedious decision-making, they cleared space for more important tasks. What tasks can you make simpler to decrease your time spent on unnecessary tasks?

2. Don’t be afraid to change your mind

Sometimes you’ve put your heart and soul into developing a project, but somehow, it just doesn’t work when you go to execute it. You’ve pitched it to investors or your boss, you’ve sold your employees and colleagues on it. It can be hard to change plans in mid-stream, but if you’re seeing your numbers plummeting or the project not turning out the way it should, it might be time to reconsider your approach. Sometimes a simple tweak can be the answer. Sometimes a significant overhaul may be in order.

Entrepreneur Payal Kadakia’s fitness membership startup Classivity wasn’t giving her the results she wanted. She kept the main idea while paying close attention to customer behavior which allowed her to create the much more successful second prototype ClassPass. Productivity means focusing your energy on an idea that’s working, not beating a dead horse.


3. Plan your day the night before

Most people plan their day in the morning, if they plan it at all. Highly successful people dedicate time the night before to planning out their day. This not only gives them an idea of what to look forward to the next day but allows them to be more flexible if their schedule starts to go off-kilter from the get-go- they can quickly adjust by moving on to the next thing on the list. They can also envision their day in a relaxed state instead of while they’re busy rushing through breakfast or on their commute. [Tweet “Highly productive people dedicate time the night before to planning out their day.  http://wp.me/p2xHHR-sI”]

4. Get an early start

The early hours are the times when fewer people are awake. The phone won’t be ringing, people won’t be knocking on your office door and precious few emails, Tweets, and posts will be coming through at that hour. It’s the ideal time to focus and get some serious work done. Check out this impressive list of early risers.


5. Enjoy a healthy lifestyle

Getting enough exercise to maintain a fit body will give you the stamina to perform challenging tasks and to maintain focus for longer. Eating healthy foods can improve energy levels while fatty foods and fast foods can produce sugar highs and crashes as well as lethargy. Cut down on sodas, caffeine and alcohol. Increase your water intake. Sleep well every night, not just when you can afford to. Sleep deprivation inhibits productivity.


6. Read books about your heroes

Many productive people have role models or mentors whose habits they mimic (remember Mark Zuckerberg copying Steve Jobs’ uniform idea?). Many industry leaders have written books on their habits. They often describe their setbacks and show how they overcame them. Reading books on your mentors can give you ideas for how to formulate better habits and be more successful.


7. Interact

One thing that might be tempting is to isolate yourself with your work so you can focus on your ideas. This is a mistake. It’s important to find a balance between working and networking. The more you interact with other people, be it employees, colleagues or industry leaders, the easier it will be for you to see the big picture of your idea and where it’s going. Richard Branson is famous for his interactions with employees and customers. He likes to see for himself how his companies are doing and there’s no better way to do that than being present.


Whether it’s simplifying small tasks, being ready to admit you need a change of strategy, getting an earlier start to your day or improving your health, any of these tips can help support your productivity and success.


What else have you tried that’s enhanced your productivity?