18 Habits of Highly Productive People

  1. They Make Lists

t’s easy to get overwhelmed with the requirements of a dream-like project. Creating a daily list of things that need to be accomplished keeps successful people honest, motivated, and constantly progressing. Start by little, and continue to build bit by bit. (Trick: do this first thing in the morning. Make a brief list of all the things you need to accomplish to make the day a victory.)

2. They Maximize Down Time

There’s always something to learn, or things that need to get done. Successful people embrace this. Having a time period surplus is a good indicator that your challenge is either too small or you’re not thinking big enough. (Trick: concentrate on segregating your spare time — i.e. one hour video editing practice, half hour reading video editing book, half hour watching beautifully edited films of others, repeat.)

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3. They Reflect on Mistakes & Grow

Carol Dweck concentrates on the fixed vs. growth oriented pathways of the brain in her New York Times best selling book Mindsets. When faced with a challenge, overcoming fear, or coming back from a “failure,” successful people are focused on development more than they fixate on the outcome of failure. (Trick: when feeling down, reflect by writing 3 things that went wrong in the process and how you plan to fix them next time.)

4. They Limit Technological Distractions

We live in a world that is constantly stimulated by electronic communication. Text messaging, the virtual worlds of social media, and mobile email capability can become serious time drains if not handled properly. (Trick: limit yourself to checking your social media accounts and emails once a day to limit distractions. There’s an app to keep you honest with that.)

5. They Forget About Perfection

Eric Thomas sums it impeccably with his statement, “There will never be the perfect time to do a great thing.” Successful individuals understand this, and don’t use their perfectionism substitute for procrastination. No matter how inexperienced, uneducated, or unprepared you might feel, right now is the best time to jump into action. (Trick: think of an endeavor you undertook and performed perfectly. No mistakes at all. Difficult? That’s what I thought.)

6. They Collect Their Thoughts Immediately

For many successful people, their best ideas, or what psychologists call ah-ha ‘moments,’ come at awkward times like during exercise or their daily commute. Collecting those thoughts will allow you to reflect on them later. (Trick: keep a pocket-sized journal in your backpack or purse for note taking. There are apps for this, too.)

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7. They Do Nice Things, But Don’t Tell Everyone

One of the many problems mass media has created is the idea that successful people always perform in front of others. As a society we often discredit the amount of hard work, practice, and sleepless nights these phenomes spent alone with their craft, with no one around. (Trick: do something small each day for a whole week to progress your dream. Don’t tell anyone about it.)

8. They Remind Themselves of Death

We have a limited amount of time on earth, and there’s no sense in hiding from how fast time goes by. Successful people understand this, and use it as an advantage in letting no day go by wasted or squandered. (Trick: Envision an older version of yourself watching you throughout the day, and do today what you’d regret later in life. Creepy? Yes. Effective? Yes.)

9. They Define Success Themselves

Success is a large word thrown around by many small mouths. It’s a shame and, honestly, it’s a sham. A large bank account, sexy spouse, or lavish wardrobes do not define success in business, life, love, and other. YOU do. (Trick: look at people you idolize. Write down what you like about them. Chances are good that the adjectives and emotions you used are some of their proudest features.)

9. They Outwork Everyone

Someone once told me that, “There will always be someone stronger, faster, smarter, and more capable than you, but you’ll never be outworked.” Though some may view this as counterproductive, I’ve never had such sage and practical advice in my life. (Trick: pretend adversity. I guarantee you’ll want to prove everyone wrong as a result, even if they’re made up.)

10. They Don’t Envy Others

Successful people don’t have time to worry about the successes or failures of others because they’re too focused on what they want to achieve. Erase envy, and other negative emotions, as you’ll surely free your mind for bigger things. (Trick: talk up and freely promote others you admire, even if they don’t return the favor.)

11. They Heed Danger in Lounging

I’m not here to demonize TV, but studies have shown that success and television viewing have a negative correlation (when success goes up, television watching goes down). In fact, Craig Dewie did a brilliant piece on this some time ago. We only have so much free time in the day, and successful people spend it educating themselves by feeding their brain instead of numbing it.

12. They Believe That Fate Is Fake

Destiny and luck is a product of hard work and sacrifice. Successful athletes, CEOs, and film stars don’t “take days off.” They’re consistently dedicated to bettering each aspect of their life daily. (Trick: don’t overload yourself at once. Take small bites, 7 days a week, and build up.

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