8 Habits of Highly Productive Workers
December 11, 2015
By Juli Durante
It seems that "productivity" never ceases to be a buzzword in the business world. We're all trying to get more done but avoid burning out. Working efficiently and productively is key. Here are some habits of highly productive workers:
1. They Sleep
I'm never less productive than when I can't seem to open my eyes. Many studies have found that sleep deprivation leads to decreased concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning. These studies also find that your brain lags first thing in the morning and late at night - when you're generally feeling sleepy.
To combat these negative effects, productive workers are generally those who are getting enough sleep. They may pull a late night now and then, but they are unlikely to be operating with a deep sleep deficit. To be more productive, get a good night's sleep. Give yourself enough time to thoroughly "wake up" (and caffeinate if that's important to you) before getting to work in the morning.
2. They Take Breaks
Can you work on a single task for 6 hours at a time? It's very rare that anyone can work so intently. If you're forcing yourself to work for such a large block of time, you're likely to experience task fatigue. So while you're putting in the time, you're not getting the task done efficiently. Add some breaks into your day to get up, move around, eat a snack, play sudoku, and clear your head. You'll come back more focused and ready to conquer the task.
3. They Don't Take So Many Breaks
Are you taking a break because you've been working for a long stretch and aren't feeling on top of your game, or are you taking a break because you're procrastinating a project you're not thrilled about working on? When you need to be productive, it's important to reach a checkpoint or milestone with a project before you walk away to take a break. Maybe that means writing a certain number of words, getting through a set series of steps, or setting a timer. Whatever works for you, sometimes it's best to keep at it until you finish something important.
4. They Prioritize
If you treat every item on your to do list like it's the most important, it's very difficult to focus and get anything done. When you need to prioritize your list, here's one way to think about it: First, organize your list by deadline. List the items that are due the soonest; next, organize like tasks that are due on the same day by how long it should take you to complete them. Start longer projects first.
With this approach, you'll be able to knock out the big, important projects early and won't sweat the small stuff.
5. They Find Their Groove
Everyone has a different approach to "getting in the zone" and getting things done. When I write a blog, I must be listening to music (without lyrics). When I read, I need a silent location. I like to wear a headset on calls, but earbuds bother me if I have music on or am listening to a webinar. Maybe these idiosyncrasies don't work for you, but they do have one thing in common: they help me get into the groove of completing a task. When you're need the extra boost of productivity, try a new approach to get yourself amped up.
6. They Email Less
Email is a time suck, especially useless email. The average worker spends almost a third of their day interacting with emails, most of which are non-essential. Reducing the number of emails you send and receive is critical. If something will require more than two emails, try a phone call instead. Try to avoid huge threads with the entire company copied on an issue that's not relevant to everyone. If you can't send less email, try closing your email for a few hours while you're working a specific task. If the idea of this amount of non-responsiveness worries you, start small: put up an automatic reply for one or two hours out of your day that states when you will respond to emails and that you can be reached by phone for urgent issues.
7. They Don't Multitask
Multitasking is a myth. Our brains can't actually juggle more than one task at the same time. While we are well-equipped to quickly switch between one thing and another, it's not an ideal way to work. Swapping between one task and another actually means it will take you longer to complete both, a serious blow to productivity. As much as possible, cut out multitasking from your life. Embrace singletasking and working efficiently - it's the "work smarter not harder" approach.
8. They Ask for Help
No one can do everything on their own. Whether you need a little more training, research, or general background information, it's important to ask for help. Sometimes, you might just need help getting through your to-do's. It's OK to delegate, work with a peer, or bring in outside help to ensure deadlines are met and every project is completed to the highest standard.
At the end of the day, being more productive is all about finding the approach that works best for you and sticking with it. As an inbound marketer, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the breadth and volume of tasks to be completed, but with the right planning, you'll be asp productive as possible. What are some tips and tricks you've used to stay productivity through the work week?
About the author
Juli Durante was formerly a team lead and marketing strategist for SmartBug Media. She has been using HubSpot and practicing inbound marketing since 2011, first as a one-woman inbound marketing team and then at SmartBug. A born and bred Jersey girl, she's a graduate of Rutgers University where she studied Anthropology, Art History, and Classics, making a very natural transition to digital marketing. Juli's education helped her learn more about research, analysis, and Jasper Johns, which she applies today when planning and measuring campaigns. She's particularly passionate about CRO and website optimization. Read more articles by Juli Durante.