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The 12 habits of the most productive people I know

Being productive in an increasingly distracted world is a prized asset

I’ve analysed the habits of productive people for many years. Some are surprising.

Here are some commonalities:

They don’t wait to feel good to take action. They know their mood is lifted once they take action.
Are closely attuned to their priorities. They don’t do things for the sake of doing them. They continually ask: ‘what is worth doing the most, right now, given my longer-term goals?’
They care less about HOW things are done and more about WHY things must get done. They remind themselves of their purpose several times a day.
Biased to completing things. People who leave a trail of unfinished projects are more likely to run out of steam.
Include at least 20 minutes of daily exercise. They don’t see this as a separate’ chore.’ Instead, it is to enhance the quality of their productive work.
Keenly aware of the negative impact of worry, rumination and self-criticism on their performance. They cultivate a healthy degree of ‘faith’ in themselves and lean into activity, even if they don’t feel they know exactly what they’re doing.
Are biased to big action. Productive people do things — lots of things — as a direct remedy to boredom and fear.
They know it’s better to be busy than static and stuck. Busyness will lead to efficiency when one is aware of their priorities anyway.
Are driven by a sense of contribution. The most active people are on a mission to serve something bigger than themselves. They are in the business of improving the lives of others.
Plan the day ahead with the same meticulous attention to detail as a skilled sailor plots his course. They prioritise important tasks over merely ‘urgent’ and often distracting tasks. They know the order in which things need to be done.
Often start their day with the perceived ‘hardest’ task. They have little time to think about it, so they are lifted by an early win that peppers all consecutive actions with positive energy.
Find a way to enjoy even the most tedious tasks. They do this by slowing down, letting go of worried thoughts, and getting into a flow which gives them an advantage.
Are ruthless with all distractions. Work done efficiently within clear and dedicated time windows is the priority. Phones are in another room, and Internet is disabled if needed.
Bonus habit:
Don’t pressure themselves to be ‘more productive,’ because that decreases performance. They focus simply on doing one thing at a time, with enjoyment.

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