This is a non-exhaustive list. I invite you to share the recommendations that have worked for you and help you be more productive and get into focus day after day!
1) ? They use the right productivity tools
It’s like baking a cake: you know the recipe, and you need the right ingredients in the right amount. The productivity market nowadays has so much to offer: many advice and tools are available but it can be overwhelming to figure out what to use and what really works in your case.
What works for others might not necessarily work for you personally. I’ll say just this: try methods and tools out, experience them for a few weeks, and see what brings the best results in your daily work and organisation.
I like minimalism: I am one of those who feel better with having only a few tools in hand but I make full use of them. Here is my top 5 productivity tools that I use on a daily basis:
– Asana: for team’s briefing and project management
– KosmoTime: for time blocking, task management and distraction blocking
– Google Calendar: in integration with KosmoTime
– Slack: for instant communication
– Zoom: for team meetings
2) ? They use the time blocking technique…
…also known as calendar blocking and timeboxing, or a similar method called task batching that consists in processing tasks of the same context together.
Chances are high you’ve dealt with an endless to-do list at least once, and never get the feeling of satisfaction to see all items crossed off that list at the end of the week.
Time blocking is a popular time and task management technique that helps take control of your schedule and prioritise your work. Time blocking is the ultimate technique highly productive people use on a daily basis!
The core principle of it is simple: any task that requires more than two minutes to be completed should be booked in your calendar. Pretty much the same way as you book time for meetings in your calendar, you make time for your tasks! You need to update and send that weekly report to your client? Each week, block time for it! You have 5 important emails to reply to by midday? Schedule time in your calendar and focus on them! You need to review job applications this week? Create a task in your calendar and dedicate time for that too!
The time blocking technique replaces your standard to-do list: instead of having a to-do list that keeps getting longer day after day, each item from that list becomes a task in your calendar. Purposely, you block time for it, therefore you commit to it. This will prevent you from multitasking and context switching – two behaviours that go against productivity. From now on, you’ll focus on one task at a time until it’s completed and before thinking about the next one.
“A 40 hour time-blocked work week, I estimate, produces the same amount of output as a 60+ hour work week pursued without structure.” – Cal Newport
3) ? They dare to say ‘No’
At first glance, this may sound slightly non team-spirit oriented but let me rephrase: they dare to say ‘No’ when they know they won’t be able to deliver quality work within the requested time frame, or when they know the request will not bring any value to the project.
How many times have you spontaneously said “Yes sure, I’ll do it” – and soon after you have realised that you have committed too quickly and that your schedule would not allow you to do it properly? Saying no means that you know how to prioritise and you understand where your energy should put in.
“It’s only by saying “No” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs
4) ? They know when and how to pause
They know when to work, and they know when to rest. We all need to recharge the batteries, which means we all need some time away from work. Productivity and achievement do not mean working 24/7 – instead, it is about knowing when to stop, and what type of break is going to refuel you.
You could stay on the couch and binge watch the latest Netflix TV show. Or, you could take and use that free time wisely, to actually give your brain a real break, and take it to a more relaxing and invigorating space. It is often in quiet time that creativity, ideas and motivation find a new momentum.
I like to use my free time to listen to podcasts, especially while I am cooking or gone for a walk. Breathing, stretching and mindful movements also help reset the brain: think of short but regular meditation and yoga sessions for instance.
They also know when to take time off: get to know yourself, and see when and where you are the most productive so you can maximize this time to complete the most important tasks. And then, take breaks outside of those hours.
“Big ideas come from the unconscious… But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process” – David Ogilvy
5) ☀️ They practice and spread a happy work culture
Last but not least: love what you do, and do what you love! It may sound cliché, but think about it: how could you expect to reach your peak of productivity and keep on going by doing something that you either don’t believe in or don’t like pursuing? By enjoying your work, naturally motivation, excitement and performance will follow.
Highly productive people find joy and purpose in what they do, and happily spread that passion among their teams and clients. It creates a virtuous circle of motivation, passion and commitment.
“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.” – Elon Musk