In the Japanese culture where I live, busyness has become a badge of honor. They are addicted to being busy. Let’s take my working environment as an example, 90 percent of my co-workers work for 11-14 hours every day. And the busiest person always gets praise and they are set as role models. You might think Japanese people are hardworking and productive. They must be getting a lot of things done. The truth is surveys say Japan’s productivity is low. Another fact is that busyness does not equate to productivity. You might be the busiest but that doesn’t mean you are the most productive. So how do you not fall into this trap? Let’s look into the habits of highly productive people. What do they have in common? By studying how they work efficiently, you can boost your productivity as well.
I have done the job of research for you. From reading books and articles, taking courses, and following productive people, I’ve come up with these habits you can borrow and implement into your life.
Before we dive into the habits, remember that productivity is a personal thing. What works for these highly productive people might now work for you. At the end of the day, your productivity growth is different from everyone else. So, borrow some of these habits and find out what best works for you. The aim should be to uncover what makes you productive. Which habits align with your values? What will help you more productive?
Increase your productivity and efficiency with these habits.
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1. Optimize and streamline your workflow
First off, you need a crystal clear of your goals. Every journey needs a guide map to reach a destination. Set up goals and finish lines. When you have defined goals, then you can start optimizing and streamlining your workflow. In the world of blogging, the most important thing to gaining traffic is SEO which stands for Search Engine Optimization. In optimizing your content, you have to look for long-tail-keywords so that search engines will use these keywords to rank your content to the tops results. The aim is to rank your content on the first page of Google but it’s almost impossible to do this when you don’t have the right long-key words. Your content will most likely to rank best with the keyword “how to make money on blogging” rather than “blogging”. The same goes for your workflow, it’s hard to get things done when you don’t optimize your to-do-lists. Instead of writing social media, write “schedule Instagram post on Planoly”. Add the time and place. So it becomes a clear task.
Simplify your workflow and create repeated shortcuts. Do you use three different email addresses? Divert all your emails into one account. Cancel all the other bank accounts you have and just use one. Look for apps that can automate your tasks. As a blogger, automation is my best friend to save time and make things faster. I use apps such as Planoly to plan and schedule my Instagram. Tailwind is the best for scheduling Pinterest pins. I learned keyboard shortcuts and increase my typing speed. And for repetitive tasks like promoting my blog, I always use checklists.
2. Prioritize and organize
Highly productive people understand the importance of setting priorities and organization. Everything can’t be a priority. You gotta set three essential tasks for a day. Schedule your day around your essentials and cut non-essentials. Everything else after your priorities are bonuses. Develop a system to regularly organize your workplace. It’s definitely a constant work in progress for people who don’t value organization much but it’s worth it. Organizing your workplace gives much clarity to your mind. It clears out distractions and boosts productivity.
3. Use a planner
Highly productive people understand that Planning has the most important role in working efficiently and achieving your goals. Why is this essential? First of all, it gives you an overview of your day or week and how will it look like. Planning helps with time management, scheduling tough tasks, setting priorities, and reflecting on your day. Whether you are a busy mom, coach, blogger, or student, everyone needs a planner and there’s nothing more I can recommend other than Nadalies’ slay your goals, printable planner.
This comprehensive planner can change your life. It has sic chapters which include setting intention, choosing your main goal and then mini goals, planning your year, creating to do lists and reviewing your year. It is date-free and has multiple layouts you can choose from. Best thing is? you can print as many as you want.
4. Take the extra time to pause and rest
Being a productive person doesn’t mean your schedule has to be always filled in with something. That’s the problem with some of my co-workers. They think that to be productive, you can’t waste time. They have to fill in their schedule with something, it doesn’t matter if it adds value to them or not. In their email system, the demand for faster response is high to the point where the speed of the response is more valuable than the content of the email.
Taking a break is associated with procrastination. What a distorted paradigm. This is wrong. A break or a pause is definitely not a waste of time nor procrastination. It is not just an empty space but an opportunity to improve overall wellbeing. In fact, you can improve creativity, relationships, and your future by simply taking extra time to rest. Your productivity improves when your well-being is nurtured; a rested mind is powerful.
4.1 Appreciate the view and your environment
When is the last time you stop to look around you? When things get busy, don’t forget to appreciate the daily pleasure of life. Take a mindful walk and notice the things around you. Stop and smell the roses.
4.2 A pause is not a waste of time, it’s an opportunity
Breaks or pauses can be an hour spending time reconnecting with friends and family, pursuing other interests, or spending time with nature. These activities allow us to know ourselves better, improve relationships and creativity. It helps us cultivate gratitude and release stress. Don’t worry about pausing because thoughts and ideas don’t stop when you take a break. Your thoughts don’t shut down when you press the “break” button. Machines are designed to work efficiently but even machines need breaks too or else they breakdown if you keep using it continuously without pauses.
5. Take out threats to productivity
The modern world instills in our minds that a quick reply is great. It constantly reminds us to push notifications to make sure we never miss out on anything but what can happen worse if we don’t? With social media, emails from your demanding boss, distractive thoughts, and small tasks, it’s so easy to get distracted but highly productive people have mastered cutting out distractions. When you are trying to focus on big tasks, turn off notifications. Keep in mind that your attention is sacred when you are into deep work. Have your planner with you ready so that when a thought comes up, just jot them down and come back to them later. Keep a distraction list. Capture all the things that come up when you are in the middle of something. They don’t deserve your attention yet until you accomplish your task.
Freedom is an app I want you to have right now to block distractions and get more focus on your tasks. It works on your phone or computers to block certain sites or Internet usage for a set period of time. It essentially gives you the freedom to not access sites with the aim of stopping distractions, allowing you to focus on what you need to.
6. Do the work before you get motivated
Motivation comes with action, not before it.
This is so true. When don’t feel like doing work, start anyway. Always show up. You will get motivated during the process. Content creation takes is such a daunting task for me as a blogger. It takes much time and effort to write a blog post. Sometimes, I dread writing and try to avoid it but once I start the tasks motivation and ideas come into the process.
7. Ditch perfectionism
If you have lived in Japan for a while, you understand and experience attention to detail. Also, you may have heard the term “Kodawari” which is the Japanese term for pursuit of perfectionism. It’s very noticeable in my workplace. The term “kaizen” which means a continual improvement to achieve perfectionism is how they think and work. It’s the first thing I noticed in my first company in Japan.
They are obsessed with perfectionism. From the products and services that we sell. From the meetings and how we conduct our classes. My co-workers pay much attention to details on how to conduct everything. From folding a flyer to give out to our clients, we had to do it nicely and perfectly. My students are afraid of making mistakes in class and there are so much peer and social pressure. These are the things I noticed and I want to teach them that perfectionism is the worst enemy of not just productivity but pretty much everything. Good is enough.
Accomplishing a task perfectly isn’t a thing. Striving for perfection is kind of like waiting for a bus in the midst of the ocean. The bus will never come and you will be disappointed. Try to forget what-ifs. What if I make a mistake? Yes, you might make a mistake and so what? It’s okay to send an email with minor mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes in class. It’s okay to not know something. If you don’t ask. It’s okay to make a mistake in your speech, webinars, or meetings. Don’t wait for every task to be perfect because you will never achieve anything if you do.
There is avalanche advice to boost productivity. They are available on the internet and in books. Here’s mine. Sometimes, you are not getting many things done because of your lifestyle. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you feeding your body with the right nutrients and enough water? Because these affect your productivity. Are you exercising on a regular basis? Are you getting sufficient relaxation and self-care? Next time you are feeling unproductive, check your lifestyle and make adjustments.