In 2015, Prof Ron Friedman assembled dozens of productivity experts and quizzed them on their best tips for a Harvard Business Review article.
This is a quick summary of the article to see how many of these 9 habits you practice already.
1. View busyness as a lack of focus.
There’s a satisfying rush we experience when there’s too much on our plate: we feel needed, challenged, even productive. And yet that pleasurable experience is an illusion. It robs us of our focus, and prevents us from making progress on the work that matters most.
2. Own your time.
Our most satisfying work comes about when we’re playing offense, working on projects that we initiate ourselves. Many of us know this intuitively, yet we continue to spend the vast majority of our days playing defense, responding to other people’s requests.
3. Avoid the “Victim Trap.”
When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to point fingers or feel sorry for yourself. However, the more we embrace negativity, the more that negativity spreads. As author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind T. Harv Eker points out, “Whatever you focus on expands.”
4. Intentionally leave important tasks incomplete.
Instead of aiming to finish important tasks in one sitting, try leaving them incomplete. Doing so will encourage you to continue thinking about your work in different settings and, in the process, position you to uncover creative solutions.
5. Make a habit of stepping back.
The best solutions reveal themselves when we step into the shower, go for a run, or take a vacation. Top performers view time off not as stalled productivity, but as an investment in their future performance.
6. Help others strategically.
Avoid saying yes to every helping opportunity. Instead, specialize in one or two forms of helping that you genuinely enjoy and excel at uniquely.
7. Have a plan for saying no.
Have a strategy in place for saying no, so that you don't have to stop and think about how to phrase your response each time you need to turn someone down. Create an email template, or write out a script that you can use when doing it in person.
8. Make important behaviours measurable.
To make progress toward any goal, it helps to track our behaviors. Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin sees monitoring as one of the keys to behavior changes, saying, “If you want to eat more healthily, keep a food journal. If you want to get more exercise, use a step counter. If you want to stick to a budget, track your spending.”
9. Do things today that make more time tomorrow.
Top performers look for ways to automate or delegate activities that are not a good use of their time. Not sure how to get started? Ask yourself this question: How can I use my time today in ways that create more time tomorrow?
How many of these do you think you practice regularly?