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7 Habits of Insanely Productive People

You don’t need more time in your day.  You need to decide – Seth Godin

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1 – Productive people don’t get everything done, they get the right things done.  

When you are busy, you work hard (but perhaps not efficiently.) Productive people work smart and hard.  They reevaluate their work regularly so the right things are getting done – making sure they are moving in a positive direction.  Productive people know the difference between important and urgent.  People who are productive set goals.

IDEAS: Talk to people to see how they got it done. You don’t always have to recreate the wheel.  Ask people for ideas – find ways to ask for help when needed. Create your own system to stay productive. It may be paper and pen, it may be your smartphone, it may be your computer, a calendar, etc… Read about different ways that people organize their lives to stay productive.  Try them.  Figure out what works for you.

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday. – John Wayne


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2 – Productive people plan their day the night before.

Productive people have tools to help stay organized. (See blog post here for sample tools.)  For starters, I would highly recommend ready David Allen’s book Getting Things Done!)  Productive people do their hardest tasks FIRST.  Productive people tend to follow daily routines.  The wake up early and follow a morning routine.

IDEAS:   Know that whatever you plan the night before is a guideline.  Lose the thought that if you don’t do everything perfectly you have failed.  Perfectionism often stops us from getting started! Try to plan your next day in smaller “chunks” than usual.  Keep the tasks you are planning for tomorrow simpler than a huge thing like “work on the book.”  Maybe you need to “create an outline” instead. Commit to this. Plan it, and do it.  Don’t create a to-do list that you already know is not manageable even for the MOST productive person in the universe!  Try 1-5 tasks at the beginning.  Don’t set yourself up for failure, please!?


You can do anything, but not everything – David Allen

3 – Productive people know their priorities and maintain healthy boundaries.

Productive people know how to say no. Saying no could be the difference between being busy and being productive. Productive people know that they are in charge of their time.  They do not believe that everyone needs to like them!  Productive people don’t concentrate ONLY on the minute details, they are able to see the big picture as well.  

IDEAS: The 80/20 Pareto Principle.  20% of the high-value tasks will lead to 80% of the value you will get out of it. How important is the task, and is it the absolute best way to spend your time?  Keep your final objective in mind at all times.


People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully – Steve Jobs

4 – Productive people are able to focus and not be distracted.

This is something you can learn.  Productive people stay away from things that halt productivity.  Productive people don’t only know these things, they DO these things.

IDEAS: Shut off all notifications on your phone and on your computer. Set a specific time for reading email.  Try to be aware of what times of day work is easier for you. Plan some breaks during the times you aren’t feeling like work is so effortless. Block out your calendar so that you are giving yourself time to do what need to be done.  Try a different workplace if you can.  Coffeeshop?  Different room in your house


Organizing is what you do before you do something so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up – A.A. Milne

5 – Productive people are organized.  

Productive people don’t have to look around for something, things are where they are supposed to be. They MAKE TIME for the important things.  You don’t hear them say, “I’m too busy” when it is something important.  Their time is organized.  They know that mess creates stress.  

IDEAS: Automate as much as you can. Delete junk and spam mail automatically through filters.  Pay your bills automatically.  Automate recurring tasks in your calendar.  Keep your space organized.  Declutter.


The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney

6 – Productive people are disciplined.  

Productive people eliminate time wasters (like Netflix, hello.)  They know that tasks should take as long as they decide they should take.  Productive people do not multitask.  They are aware that multitasking reduces efficiency and performance because even though one may THINK they can do 2 (5) things at once, a person truly can’t focus adequately unless they are doing only one thing at a time.

IDEAS: Plan breaks.  Don’t work non-stop.  You won’t be as productive this way.  Set a timer! Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  Set time limits!  If there are no boundaries of time set, the work can (and will) go on and on and on.  Leave the office for lunch if you don’t have the ability to take a break sitting at your desk.


Learning never exhausts the mind. – Leonardo da Vinci

7 – Productive people learn.  

Productive people keep learning to increase their skill and knowledge. Productive people stay inspired.

IDEAS:  What inspires you? Figure out what would motivate you to be more productive and concentrate on that. Pursue your passion. Make time to master your skills.  This is important!  Some people use music for inspiration, some use exercise, art, meditation, etc…

Be grateful – gratefulness inspires!

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