When the day’s list is too long to realistically complete in 24 hours
(which for some of us is a daily occurrence), that list is then
rearranged to reflect the absolute essentials.
4. They identify and utilize their productivity window.
No one is at his/her best all day long. People who are on top of
things know their most productive times—usually a 2-3 hour window that
occurs once or twice a day—and intentionally use that time to tackle the
most important tasks or the ones that require the most focus. For me
it’s 9-11:30am, so I save my menial responsibilities for the late
afternoon, when I tend to drag.
5. They know when (and when not to) multitask.
Multitasking gets a bad rap, but highly productive people understand
that sometimes it does work—like when you’re listening to a
career-related podcast while wiping down your kitchen counters, or when
you’re brainstorming project ideas while going for your morning walk.
They also know, however, to differentiate between multitasking and just
being distracted. Hopping on Facebook every 10 minutes at work? That’s
6. They use a planning/scheduling tool that works for their lifestyle.
A diehard pen-and-paper person probably won’t be successful with an
app-based system, while a true techie would likely lose that day planner
within an hour. Similarly, someone whose schedule is closely tied to
other family members’ responsibilities needs a system—be it a giant wall
calendar for the kitchen or a family-organizing app like Cozi—that accommodates that lifestyle.
7. They take breaks.
It may sound counterintuitive, but working from sunrise to sunset
does not a productive person make. Regular breaks for things like food,
water, and movement actually make people more effective and efficient.
8. They’re realistic about how much time things take.
If you underestimate how long it takes to, say, write that report or
clean your house, you’re inevitably going to get behind. On the other
hand, if you always overestimate how long tasks take, you’ll never be
as efficient as you could be. Highly productive people find that sweet
spot where they can accurately estimate how much time something will
take, taking into account occasional breaks and inevitable
9. They have someone hold them accountable.
Highly productive people are open about what they want to accomplish
that day, week, month, or year—and then don’t want to disappoint when
others follow up.
10. They’re perfectionists, but only when it counts.
If every single task, no matter how small, has to be completed
without flaw or error, you will probably never finish anything. Striving
for perfection can be a help or a hindrance, depending on the stakes,
so save the nit-picky attitude for when they’re especially high. (Cover
letter for a job application? Be a perfectionist. Email to your Aunt
Suzy? A missed typo is OK.)
11. They delegate the right way.
That is, they delegate a reasonable number of tasks that are
appropriate to the skill level of the delegatee, and they always say
please and thank you.
12. They appreciate what did get done instead of stressing over what didn’t.
Like most things in life, being productive requires a good attitude.
At the end of the day, looking at the bright side and choosing to see
the accomplishments rather than the missteps means that you’ll feel
better, sleep better, and be better prepared to be productive again