Do you ever feel like someone you know can get more done in three hours than you can in an entire day? It’s not that he or she has some hidden supernatural powers. It’s that this hyper-productive person has some habits that definitely provide an advantage when it comes to working smarter and achieving more in less time. Here are five secret habits of the hyper-productive to adopt to get more out of your day.
- Take breaks – Constantly working doesn’t mean constantly being productive. In fact, it can result in quite the opposite – boring ideas, low creativity and general feelings of burnout. Taking breaks is “like hitting the reset button. It helps you empty out your ‘brain cache’ so you have room to refill it,” notes Christine Hohlbraym, author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. She advises taking a real lunch break instead of eating while you work, a 5-minute break before you start working in the morning and a 10 to 15 minute break in the afternoon to recharge and improve your overall productivity.
- Be proactive – The key to this habit is knowing what makes you tick. Identify the ideal traits that you’d like within each of your roles and relationships, and then use these characteristics as motivation to take responsibility for any actions and the consequences that result. In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey explains that this helps because the proactive and productive don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions or conditioning for their behaviour – they own up to it. They realize that by taking the initiative they’re controlling which direction their project, task or lives will take.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” – Sometimes a request or project can inconveniently intervene in an already full day. When this happens to a hyper-productive person, and the task isn’t urgent, he or she usually has no problem speaking up to say it can’t be squeezed in to his or her schedule. “No” is said firmly but lightly. Even if it’s an order from the boss, productive people ask to have some help prioritizing what’s already on their plate if the task is essential. Add this skill to your own work skills arsenal by honestly communicating what your schedule can and can’t handle.
- Learn constantly – Whether they’re filling their curiosity by reading, watching, listening, asking or doing, hyper-productive people never stop picking up new skills and information. They also look for the lessons in failure instead of whining or complaining, knowing that trial and error is another way to learn. Try this method of always learning by taking any appropriate and helpful inspiration or information you’ve absorbed and apply it to whatever you’re working on.
- Focus on the most important tasks first – Hyper-effective people usually abide by a list of daily goals or a brief rundown of their day to make sure they’re maximizing their working hours. Creating a list provides clarity into what needs to be done and serves as a way to keep on task when distractions start to tempt them. Steal this tip by budgeting your time each day. Start by tackling the most crucial tasks first, then dedicate chunks of time to smaller but time-hogging tasks like emails and phone calls.