The Don’ts of Being Highly Productive

by | August 19, 2014

Becoming highly productive is often full of ‘dos’: Do work in timed cycles, do listen to your body, do exercise in the morning… But what about things highly productive people avoid? These are some behaviors people who are very productive don’t do.

Don’t say ‘yes’ all the time

The beauty of becoming productive is that you know when to decline certain requests. You know your total workload best and overloading it pulls you away from completing all your tasks according to the timeline you set. Saying no may seem a bit harsh at first. If telling people no is proving to be more difficult than you thought, try this: First, ask them to prioritize the ask against their other projects. Then let them know your current projects. Finally, suggest a date or time that you feel comfortable with sticking to. The absolute worst thing you can do is agree to an aggressive timeline then not stick to it.

Don’t stay stuck

Getting stuck and staying there are related but very similar. Getting stuck is an essential step in learning because it’s a sign you’re facing a problem you’ve never dealt with before. Staying stuck reflects a few things. It shows that you haven’t found a solution to your problem that you’re confident in. That leads to inaction. Whether out of fear, uncertainty or something else, staying stuck reflects you haven’t risked being wrong to try to get unstuck. Try something, what’s the worst that could happen?

Don’t get lost in the details

Rarely is the ‘how’ of getting something done more important than the “what.” Translation: don’t let the nitty gritty details derail you from the ultimate mission. There are likely a million different ways to get from point A to B, pick the one you’re comfortable with doing and get it done. Learn along the way how you can make the process more efficient.

Don’t put themselves down

Even people who are generally very productive have their lull days. It happens; they’re human after all. How they deal with it is what’s different. Instead of beating themselves up over a slip in their productivity they power through it, getting what they set out to do done no matter what it takes.

Don’t start a task before stopping another

It’s not to say that you can’t take a breather from one task to move onto another but before you click to another tab and start a new task make sure you have a solid stopping point. Returning to an email stopped mid-sentence or picking up on a report you ended abruptly will likely throw you for a loop. Pick a solid stopping point that you can jump right back into the work. This isn’t about avoiding multitasking but is about having a defined end and beginning to every task you do.

Don’t keep ideas in your head

Write them down. As quick as ideas come they can go, disappearing into the abyss of your ideas past. You swear you’ll remember it. You never do. You promise you’ll make a note of it in a minute. But the clock never hits 1:64. Do yourself a huge favor and write down those ideas as soon as they pop up. Pro tip: keep them digital so you never lose track of them. There are plenty of note-taking apps that allow you to bounce between mobile, laptop, and tablet.