Saturday, July 18, 2015

3 Habits of Highly Productive People

Are you working hard, but lacking a sense of accomplishment? Do you hardly have any time for hobbies? Do you want to accomplish more and grow fast in your career?

If you had answered “Yes!” to any one of the above questions, I was like you… 10 years ago. I hardly had any time in my life, except for family and work. I was doing a lot of activities, but very few accomplishments. Today, I have lots of time to exercise, to read books and for hobbies like Toastmasters. So, what are the 3 most important habits that I learned from successful people that helped me to increase my own productivity?

Also read: If you dream, you can

1. Start your day early - When I wanted to become successful in life, I started reading a lot of books on “How to become successful?” I learned that there is one thing which is common across all successful people – they get up early. Getting up early in the morning helps you to create extra time. If you want to develop a new habit such as exercising or planning your day, you can do it in the morning. During the day, you get interrupted by your priorities at work, by family and friends. But, at 5.30 in the morning, nobody is going to interrupt you from exercising or planning your day. Also, you save time because you spend less time in the traffic by starting early and you can accomplish more at work before your colleagues show up.

2. Learn continuously and pick up new skills - Abraham Lincoln says "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the Axe". I’m in the Information Technology field and I get to use Microsoft Excel Sheet (XLS), a lot. A few years back, I had to convert the rows into columns and columns into rows from a 100 rows, 10 columns XLS. Being a novice on XLS, I started doing that manually, by copying and pasting each cell in the XLS and I spent nearly 3 hours on that activity. A few months later, I signed up for a course on using XLS and learned that I can do the rows to column conversion using just 1 formula in 5 mins.  I’m sure each one of you are doing an activity similar to this at your work. Identify such areas and pick up new skills to improve your efficiency.

3. Learn to differentiate between Relaxation and Distraction - Today, we spend (waste!) a lot of time in front of TV, Computer and Mobile Phone. For example, I see youngsters watching cricket on TV for hours together. When you read newspaper the next day, you’ll anyway get to know the results of the match. I wonder why folks still spend a lot of time in front of the TV. Those players and sponsors are stealing your precious time to make several millions of dollars. On the contrary, your performance goes down because you wasted your time in watching such programs on TV. Similarly, youngsters spend a lot of time in Facebook and Whatsapp. How much percentage of the activities that we do in Facebook and Whatsapp are going to help us in achieving our long term goals? These distractions are like dropping a few drops of ink into a glass full of clear water. It takes complete control of your mind/time and reduces your mind’s capacity to produce more. If you learn to limit/control the time you spend on your relaxation activities, you can accomplish more in life.

Also read: How to make self-development, a habit?

To increase your everyday productivity, imagine your day as a train. The train has an engine at the beginning, which is your early morning slot. They just let the driver alone to operate the engine. Similarly, the early morning time should be only for you. Use that for your own activities such as exercising and planning the day. Next, the train has AC coaches. This is your most productive / valuable slot and hence allocate it for tasks of high importance at work. Next comes the sleeper class. You can allocate this slot for the not-so-urgent, but important activities such as sending status reports or conducting meetings. Then, comes the unreserved coaches. These are the slots that can be used for doing unplanned activities. Finally, comes the observatory coach with the guard at the end. Use this slot for reviewing your progress and planning for the next day. If you follow these simple tips, your productivity is going to skyrocket and take you to places that you have never imagined before.