Do you usually feel attacked when you put in so much work and efforts, but a colleague who didn’t “seem” to put as much physical and mental work, is smashing tasks repeatedly and producing more results?
First thing is to clarify that hard work doesn’t necessary equate productivity, so don’t rule out the possibilities of working 8am – 8pm and producing less than someone who works from 9am – 5pm with breathers in between. We all have the same hours in a day, our differences are in our utilizations, so while some wail about how short 24 hours is, others embrace it with gratitude.
There are evidently common characteristics of productive people, a few are mentioned below:
HEALTHY SLEEPING PATTERN: Productive people have just about the right amount of sleep. You’d agree to have come across people who tell you phrases like “while you sleep, we make money” and I bet a lot of misconceptions come with such phrases. Productive people know just about the right amount of sleep their body needs, they know to sleep early, maybe read an hour in between if they must and wake up early, without their phones being the first thing they pick when they wake. You really don’t want to deal with coming to the office looking all haggard and forcing yourself to stay awake with a cup of coffee.
Do not be mistaken, having quality amount of sleep, enough to keep your mind on constant refreshment differs totally from slothfulness. Never sleep more than is necessary or less that is required.
COME IN ANEW: Every day is new, productive people know this and treats it that way. Forget the anger or grudge from the day before, the anger brewed from home and the activities on the road. As soon as you get to the front of your work space, drop those weights and come in anew. Going in with a smile can change a day that could have ordinarily been bad.
“TA-DA LIST”: This is what you commonly call a “to-do” list, a list of all you have to get done monthly, weekly and daily. “Ta-da” because every time you complete a task, you go “tada!”. Productive people don’t wait till the morning of each day before planning the day; they create to-do lists ahead of time – for the month, week and a smaller chunk for the day. At the end of every day, week and month, it is easy to understand what you have accomplished, what you are yet to accomplish, why you could not accomplish it and the next best course of action.
Of course, contingences may arise that would require you to do more “work” not preplanned for you, so always leave a space for “extras”. It gets overwhelming when you have to do what you never envisioned but the solution is to either learn to delegate, say no to tasks you cannot handle, or prioritize what is urgent and important, and know what can wait.
FOCUS: We live in a world where so many things struggle for our attention right about the same time. Once a distraction occurs, it takes a lot to regain your attention and just one single distraction is well enough to ruin an almost productive day. Imagine your phone buzzing at minute intervals with messages from Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snap chat, and all of those other media. Oh, emails are not exempted.
Productive people understand the importance of focusing to be able to deliver tangible results and know how well to handle the media “baggage” or keep it far away during working hours.
Having a designated time to attend to these distractions can do the trick, as long as you stay dedicated to it – social media in the morning, during break or after work; communicating to key influencers in your life about the best time to call you, except in cases of emergencies; and consciously keeping phones away.
LITTLE OR NO MULTITASKING: Multitasking is the act of doing so many things at the same time and it requires channeling your ‘brain energy” into these many activities all at once. Naturally, the human brain isn’t created to multitask continuously. Once in a while is fine, but in consistency would deter your productivity. Concentrate on tasks, one after the other to avoid straining your brain more than it should be.
Multitasking in consistency is not a skill, productive people know this. Do all that needs to be done, when they need to be done to prevent having to finish tasks in haste and combining them with other pending tasks.
RECESS/QUIET TIME: The human brain can only work with maximum concentration for not more than 90 – 120 minutes at a stretch, before it begins to experience the “law of diminishing” returns. Productive people know this, they know their capacity and exactly when to take a walk from one office to the other, up to down, down the street, wherever they can recharge. Every individual have their span on concentration, understand yours and try not to stretch it beyond limits.
JOURNALING: This is absolutely different from the “Ta-da” list. This helps you to capture work moments. Research has it that once you leave a task to attend to something else, important or not, the likelihood of you completing that task again is very slim. This is either as a result of not recalling where you had previously left off or totally losing interest in it.
Productive people make room for contingences for sure, and they know how to write down the exact point they are in, before the unplanned duty came up. For example “I was about to place a call to xyz client before the Boss called me for an urgent meeting”. With this, it is easy to trace where you stopped and pick up as though you never even left.
DELEGATES: Effectiveness does not mean trying to get all the jobs done by yourself. Delegating activities is one of the keys to successful and timely outputs. A productive person does not clamor to get the job done solely, in order to take the glory for it. Everyone has their capacities, discovering this helps in self-mastery. For what isn’t within your jurisdiction to do or can’t be handled at the time, delegate to someone whose capacity you know of, and while at that, avoid micromanaging them.
MAINTAINS EXCELLENCE: A lot of people go about carrying out duties, not because they want to but because they have someone to please or prove a point to. This is eye service and differs from excellence. Excellence entails creating that ownership culture and carrying out duties in efficiency and with all possible expertise, even when no one is watching.
Productive people maintain a spirit of excellence in all their activities. Put your best in right about everything and anything you are tasked to do, secret successes give rise to public acknowledgements.
PERSONAL REWARD SYSTEMS: Gratification comes not from external forces but from within. How often do you appreciate yourself for jobs well done?
Productive people do not wait to get an external accolade, so from time to time they reward themselves for every new goal accomplished. It really isn’t about how much you spend on yourself, but the little things that matter. Getting yourself as little as stick on candy or even a pair of new ties, is a huge self-reward that can release dopamine (feel good hormones)