I believe that nobody wants to procrastinate, no one wants to feel stressed, no one wants to get distracted, and no one wants to live in mediocrity.
Everyone wants to be productive, to achieve the goals they set, to live their dreams, and to achieve outstanding success in life.
Well, says easy, does hard.
It is easy to say that you want to live a productive life, to work on productive tasks, and to produce amazing results in life. But the truth is that execution is difficult.
However, there is a small group of people who are able to do it. They make their days productive, they get things done, and they are extremely successful.
Successful people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jack Dorsey, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, and more, seem to understand how to stay productive regardless of whatever happens.
We should learn from these amazing individuals. And here are the top 10 habits of these productive people that we should adopt.
1. Make a list
Richard Branson, the billionaire who started Virgin Group says that one of his biggest secrets to success is a to-do list.
In one of Virgin’s blog post, Branson shared his list from his 1972 diary, where he wrote down the things that he wanted to achieve as a 22-year-old young man. Here’s what he wrote down:
- Learn to fly
- Look after me, you, boat
- Entertain everybody with me
- Invite nice people back
- Start getting the small house together at The Manor
- Start buying odds and sods for The Manor
- Work with me on projects/sort me out
- More shops to be found
As we know it, Branson has become a super successful entrepreneur running multiple businesses around the world. And he dedicated a huge portion of his success to his habit of writing lists.
“I’ve often written about my love of writing lists – and this one shows I’ve been at it since the very beginning. Lists not only provide great structure for getting things done, but they also help us to set goals and achieve our dreams.”
Sir Richard Branson is right. You can have a list for almost anything. You can create a list of all the things that you want to achieve in your life. You can also make a list of to-dos in your busy day.
Whatever you put down into paper, you make it more tangible and you are telling yourself that it is important, and that is why you write it down.
Thus, make this your productive habit. You can use your phone to record down everything or do it the Branson-way, write down everything on a notepad and carry it everywhere you go.
Make Your Lists:
You can make lists for almost everything:
1. Create a list of all the things that you want to achieve in life. In other words, put all your goals into a bucket list. Write them down and include a deadline.
2. Make a daily to-do list. If you want to be productive, you must identify the tasks that you need to get done. So create your daily to-do list so that you will never forget the things that you need to do.
3. Plan and prepare your day, week, month, and year. Plan your day the night before.
And if you want to learn more about making a to-do list, read this article:
2. Reflect on your life
In his commencement speech at the Stanford University, the man who started Apple, Steve Jobs, told the students there that he asked himself a simple but powerful question to reflect on his life each day.
This was what he said:
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
How can you tell if what you do each day is moving you forward or backward if you don’t reflect or review your results?
The only way to know if you have lost some weights is to stand on the weighing machine and measure your weight.
And the same principle applies in life. If you want to be productive, you must review and reflect on your life.
Like what Jobs did, he asked himself that one question each morning so that he knew if he was moving in the right direction or not.
Too many of us take life for granted and don’t reflect on what we do each day.
I published this article on 12th September 2018. Guess what, the third quarter of 2018 has gone. Soon, it will be 2019 and 2018 will be over.
I bet that nobody will want to repeat every year and call it a life, like what Robin Sharma says:
[ctt template=”9″ link=”rB55w” via=”no” ]“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”[/ctt]
Therefore, if you want to move forward, produce the right results, and make progress to reach your goals, you must review and reflect on your life.
Do a self-check to understand your progress. And if you are not moving forward, you know that something is not right and you must make a change.
Review and Reflect on Your Life:
1. Review your goals on a daily or weekly basis. Don’t wait to do a review only by year-end because by then, it will be too late.
2. Reflect on your life on a regular basis. Take time off to think about the future that you want, and ask yourself if what you do each day are moving you forward.
If you need more help, read this article:
3. Wake up earlier than others
One of the most common habits of productive people is none other than waking up early.
[ctt template=”9″ link=”cad9X” via=”no” ]”Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin[/ctt]
This article from BusinessInsider shares a list of 21 successful people who wake up incredibly early.
- Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple wakes up as early as 3:45AM each morning, does email for an hour, stealing a march on those lazy East Coasters three time zones ahead of him, then goes to the gym, then Starbucks (for more e-mail), then work.
- PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi is in the office by 7AM every workday. And she tells Fortune that “they say sleep is a gift that God gives you … that’s one gift I was never given.”
- Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO wakes up around 5:30AM to meditate and jog for 6 miles each day.
- Kevin O’Leary, the Shark Tank investor says that he wakes up at 5:45AM and checks the European and Asian markets every day.
- Richard Branson wakes up at about 5:45AM each day in his private island too. He uses those early hours to exercise, build relationships with his family, and get a good breakfast before he gets to work.
The list can go on and on. And if you want to know what most highly successful people do before breakfast, read this book by Laura Vanderkam.
Waking up early can make you more productive because you get a head-start than when most people are still sleeping.
Wake Up Early Tips:
1. If you want to wake up early, go to bed early. Most people don’t sleep early and this is why they don’t have the energy the next day.
2. Do it gradually. You don’t have to wake up at 5AM tomorrow if you have used to get up at 7AM every day. You can change your lifestyle, not drastically, but gradually. Try to wake up 15 or 30 minutes earlier than usual, maintain it, and then only go one step further.
Need help to wake up early and still full of motivation? Read this article:
4. Focus on getting the most important work done
Productive people are productive because they focus on getting the most important tasks done, not just any task. And you should do the same.
Prioritize your to-do list. Don’t just work on the list according to what you have written down, instead, prioritize the tasks according to their importance and get the most result-yielding task done first.
Tim Ferris, the best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek says it wisely:
[ctt template=”9″ link=”Jbx8R” via=”no” ]”If you don’t have time, the truth is, you don’t have priorities. Think harder, don’t work harder.”[/ctt]
Not all tasks are created equal. You must focus on getting the work that gets you the most result if you want to be productive. Being busy doesn’t mean that you are being productive.
This is why you should follow the Pareto’s 80/20 Principle. Spend your time working on the 20% tasks that give you 80% work. And not the other way round.
So how do you deal with all your tasks and to-dos? A good approach is to use the Eisenhower Matrix.
Basically, you list down everything that you need to get done, and then you put the tasks into the Eisenhower Matrix to identify their importance.
Focus on the High-Impact Work:
1. Always prioritize. Choose to work on tasks that give you the most impact. Follow the Pareto’s Rule to make yourself productive and effective.
2. Eliminate distraction and say no in a nice way to reject things or people that are not moving you forward. We only have 24 hours a day and we can’t spend our time on whatever that comes to us. Thus, we have to be choosy.
Read this article to learn how one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, focuses on his priorities and gets things done:
This is another common habit that most productive people practiced. There are many benefits of exercise and one of them is to make you more productive.
According to this article from MayoClinic, exercise can boost energy.
“Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.”
Not only that, the article goes on to say that exercise can help improve your mood too. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may increase the amount of endorphins in our brains and makes us feel happy.
In short, exercise can make you more productive and get more things done. This is why a lot of successful people choose to exercise in the morning before they start their work.
This article from BusinessInsider reveals some of the exercise habits of highly successful people:
- Ex-President Barack Obama sweats it out 45 minutes a day, six days a week.
- Billionaire tech investor Mark Cuban gets at least an hour of cardio per day.
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg works out three times a week.
- Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett chooses exercise over diet.
- Media mogul Oprah Winfrey combines cardio and meditation to help her power through her busy days.
- LearnVest CEO Alexa von Tobel goes to the gym almost every day and brings coworkers with her.
Hence, make exercise your daily habit.
Tips to Exercise on a Regular Basis:
1. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to make your body sweat. You can always start small. Perhaps, you can start with exercise for just 30 minutes a day.
2. Schedule it. If you want to make exercise to be a part of your daily life, you must schedule it. Be crystal clear of when you want to do it, what time, and where.
3. Get a partner if you think that doing it alone is boring.
Want to make exercise your daily habit? Read this article from Harvard.
If you want to be productive, you must proceed your day with a purpose.
Successful people are extremely purpose-driven. They understand what they want and they know what they need to do at each moment.
I remembered watching a speech from Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder who says that he can’t take his mind off his business. And he can’t stop thinking about building and growing Alibaba.
In other words, he has his goals, his dreams, and his passion ‘fused’ with his life 24/7.
You have to be the same if you want to produce amazing results in life. When you are crystal clear with what you want to achieve out of your life, you will work for it.
And when you don’t, you will think that you have free time to spare. And so you check Facebook, Instagram, and you watch some funny videos on YouTube because you think you are free.
But the truth is that you are not free, you are just not purpose-driven.
So when you lose your purpose, you lose being productive. You can only be productive when you have a clear target to pursue.
Without a target, you will travel in all direction and be distracted by everything that comes to you.
Look at Elon Musk, he is absolutely clear about what he wants. He builds Tesla and starts SpaceX, where both companies strive to make a difference in how we travel.
So always be purpose-driven, my friend. Put your goals and your dreams in your mind all the time.
How to be Driven by a Purpose:
1. Find out what you want to achieve and set it as a goal. Pursue the goal relentlessly until you achieve it. Do not give up and do not quit.
2. Make sure your goals are in harmony with your passion. You must pursue something that you are passionate about.
If you have no idea what you want to achieve in your life and that you are unclear about your life’s purpose, I strongly suggest you read this article:
Do you know that many successful people dedicated their success to meditation?
Inc.com shares a list of successful entrepreneurs who practice daily meditation. And the list includes:
Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post. Arianna says she started to meditate when she was a teenager. Today, she is an advocate and dedicates meditation as one of her keys to success.
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds investment firms. This is what the billionaire investor says, “Transcendental Meditation has probably been the single most important reason for whatever success I’ve had.”
Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian, and entrepreneur worth over $800 million. Seinfeld says that he has been doing transcendental meditation for over 40 years and practicing it helps him take things easier.
Even the man who won the Mr. Olympia title for 7 times says that he practices meditation. During an interview, Arnold Schwarzenegger told Tim Ferriss that a year of practicing transcendental meditation has changed his life in the 1970’s.
This was what Arnold said:
“I did 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, and I would say within 14 days or three weeks, I got to the point where I could really disconnect my mind … and learn how to focus more and calm down.”
So take time to meditate. If you read the book, Thrive written by Arianna Huffington, you will understand why and how meditation can make you more productive and help you be more successful.
The Meditation Tips:
1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Relax, close your eyes, and take deep breaths.
3. As you breathe, focus and repeat the mantra in your mind, such as repeating the word, “success” or “happy” in your head.
4. Practice this for 10 to 15 minutes a day.
8. Take breaks and recharge
If you want to be productive, you must take time to stop and recharge. You can’t work 24 hours and the best way to maintain your productivity is by taking breaks.
Nobody, not even the most productive people in the world can focus for 10 hours straight.
Our focus and willpower decrease as we use them, like the battery for our phones. And what do you do when you run out of power? You charge your phone, right? So why don’t you do that to yourself too?
Many studies have discovered that taking short breaks can improve our productivity and help us stay better focus on our work. And if you want to maintain your focus and productivity, you too, must learn to schedule breaks into your day.
Do you know that Archimedes, the famous scientist who discovered the water displacement principle found his Eureka moment when he was taking a bath?
When you take breaks, you are getting your mind out of the focus. And this gives you plenty of room to creatively come up with ideas or better solutions to problems?
Tips on Taking Short Breaks:
1. Schedule your breaks. Follow the Pomodoro technique and work for about 40 to 50 minutes and then take a short 5 or 10 minutes break.
2. Get outdoors. Staying in the office the whole day can make you feel tired and lethargic. Taking a short break and get outside for a couple of minutes can refresh your mind and recharge your energy.
Recommended reading: How to Take Breaks Effectively
9. Get things done
Productive people don’t wait for motivation to work. They choose to work and take action regardless of whether they feel like it or not.
So don’t wait and don’t procrastinate. Highly productive people are people who will never procrastinate and put things off until a later time.
Like what Gary Vaynerchuk says:
[ctt template=”9″ link=”fX0Si” via=”no” ]”Do the work. Everyone wants to be successful, but nobody wants to do the work.”[/ctt]
Success will not come to you automatically and it will not come to you instantly. You need to put in the work, consistently.
The sad truth is that most people choose to procrastinate and they don’t get things done. They prefer to watch YouTube than to work on their goals. They choose to spend time on Facebook than reading the book that can change their lives.
Highly effective people will never procrastinate. They choose to get the most important work done the first thing in the morning.
They work harder than most people. And that is why they are successful.
Grant Cardone, the New York Times best-selling author and a successful entrepreneur says:
“Most people work 9-to-5. I work 95 hours per week. If you ever want to be a millionaire, you need to stop doing the 9-to-5 and start doing 95.”
Working 95 hours per week comes to about working 14 hours a day. In other words, successful people are extremely hard working.
Not only that they work on the most effective tasks, but they also choose to work longer hours and grinding more than most people.
Therefore, get things done and do not procrastinate.
If you always put things off and fail to follow through your plans and goals, read this article now:
10. Value time… and life
Productive people value their time. And they have made their habit to value time. This is why productive and successful people don’t waste time, because they understand that wasting time is equivalent to wasting life.
[ctt template=”9″ link=”A7ZIl” via=”no” ]”If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee[/ctt]
This is an awakening. When you understand that everything you do is going to affect your life, you become more time conscious.
You become more aware of how you spend time and you will not simply waste it.
Productive people understand that time is a finite resource and once it is gone, you can never get it back.
So make it part of your habit and make it your belief to value time.
Here’s an interesting article I recommend you read:
[ctt template=”9″ link=”O1of6″ via=”no” ]”Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” – Jim Rohn[/ctt]
Being productive is easier said than done. Follow these 10 habits of productive people and make them part of your life.
You don’t have to adopt every habit right away, just start with adopting one small habit at a time.
Here’s a recap of the 10 productive habits:
- Make a list
- Review and reflect on your life
- Wake up earlier than others
- Get the high impact work done first
- Exercise regularly
- Be purpose-driven
- Practice meditation
- Take breaks and recharge
- Get things done and don’t procrastinate
- Value your time and life
Do you think that these habits can make you more productive?
Share your opinion in the comment section below. Cheers