To be successful, doing what it takes to succeed is not enough; you also must stop wasting your time on activities and habits that lead to failure.
The reason many people have been frustrated in the pursuit of their goal, even when they apply the success formula prescribed by experts, is usually because they keep with activities that negate the accomplishment of their goals.
It is like taking a step forward and two steps backward.
If you take a close look at their schedule, you can easily figure out where the problem lies: as much as they are doing what it takes to be productive, they are also doing what unproductive people do with their time.
And so the negative effect of wasting their time on unproductive activities affects their overall performance, make it difficult to achieve success.
Here is a simple rule of thumb:
Highly productive people don’t do what unproductive people do with their time.
Therefore, if you keep doing what unproductive people do with their time, you will keep falling behind on your goals.
But if you want to highly productive, you must learn to stop doing what highly productive people DON’T do with their time.
Here are four of them:
They don't joke about their morning hours.
The morning is the most important part of your day. Almost every successful person agrees with this proposition.
Quoting Lemony Snicket from his book, The Blank Book,
"Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have."
That means what you do with your morning hours sets the tone for the rest of the day.
For instance, if you are used to watching Netflix in the first 3 hours of the morning, instead of planning your day, chances are you would be unproductive with the rest hours of the day.
A wasted morning bleeds a bad omen into the rest hours of the day.
Put this to work: Plan your day.
If you have been playing your morning hours away, you need to stop it to become more productive.
The negative effects of wasting those hours keep you from being productive and successful in reaching your goals.
Start your day by structuring the rest twenty-something hours. Make that your first task for the day.
You will get more done, if you start planning your day in the early hours of the morning. It is a habit of highly productive people.
2. They don’t work non stop
This was one of the greatest undoings of a good number of people. They mistake busyness for productivity.
But the truth is this: working all day nonstop is a risk to your health and wellbeing.
And when you extend that a little, we can say that working without prioritizing rest in between tasks, overtime, diminishes your productivity.
It is a concept in economics called the law of diminishing marginal returns.
It is a theory in economics that predicts that after some optimal level of capacity is reached, adding a factor of production will actually result in smaller increases in output.
Taking some time out to rest in between intense work is a productivity tool that many people rarely acknowledge — unfortunately to their disadvantage.
Put this to work: Take periodic breaks.
If you have been used to working without taking breaks to rest, now you have to change that.
Start observing periodic breaks to rest and recharge your vital energies.
Input rest time into your daily work schedule. For instance, you can take a 10 minutes break session for every 50 minutes of work.
Also, you can make it a ratio of 45:15 instead of 50: 10. It all depends on which you find convenient.
The breaks you take to rest recharges your mental and physical strength to get more done in the next work session.
3. They Don’t allow work to spill into their personal life
Allowing your work to flow into your personal life signals indiscipline. And every indiscipline costs.
Your personal life is as important as your work is to your overall success in life. For that reason, one should not be allowed to suffer for the other to thrive.
That work-life indiscipline cost my friend a four-year relationship with his girlfriend.
He allowed work time to bleed into his relationship life. His relationship suffered because he had less time for his girlfriend.
He even often steals a few minutes to engage with clients replying to emails and social media notifications in the few minute leftovers for his girlfriend.
She could not cope with the situation.
It left her with no option but to end it.
Every indiscipline carries a cost.
Prioritize balance. Work during work time and treat your personal life equally — not allowing one to spill into the other.
Put this to work: Set boundaries.
Tools: a sheet of paper, a pen, and a timer.
Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns:
- Work (Career)
- Personal life.
Under each column, list out the tasks you wish to complete for that day.
And then set a timer to remind you when to switch from work to your personal life. As soon as you are ready for work, start the timer.
NB: You can preferably use another ring tone or timer to remind you when to time breaks for rest.
As soon as the timer goes off, the hours allocated to your work are over.
Quickly reschedule the unfinished tasks for the next work session — this could be later or the next day.
Shut down completely and switch to attend to the tasks listed in your personal life column.
The discipline of maintaining work-life balance significantly boost your productivity.
4. They don’t procrastinate.
Procrastination is an enemy of productivity and personal success.
Highly productive people know that time is a limited resource, and so they try as much as possible to make the most of it.
They are very meticulous in ensuring that anything they do with their time leads towards the accomplishment of their life goals.
Let’s look at some practical examples: highly productive people work, but also take periodic breaks for rest. This time for rest recharges their mental and physical faculties to boost their productivity.
Also, they link up with friends after work because good relationships is a cardinal part of their emotional life.
Procrastination is a negative to their work, career, and personal life and so they avoid it at all costs.
Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him. — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.
Put this to work: Deconstruct big tasks.
Since people usually procrastinate on tasks that they find overwhelming.
So divide your tasks into manageable chunks. And take each one at a time.
Deconstructing overwhelming tasks into manageable chunks diminishes the tendencies to procrastinate.
You can achieve more and better results in your work, career, and personal life like highly most highly productive people.
All you need is to stop spending your time on things that do not move you towards your goals — tasks with low returns on time and effort investment.
This is not just by doing what highly productive people do with their time, but also stop doing what they don’t with their time.
That is how to achieve your goals faster as highly productive people do.