4 Things Highly Productive People Never Do
Sometimes, productivity tips and hacks won’t be enough. Letting go of inefficient habits or ineffective systems can also be helpful.
I spent the past two years researching the world’s most productive individuals, and that allowed me to correct a huge flaw I was making.
Productivity used to mean doing more, fitting more into your schedule, accomplishing more things.
All these habits caused me to run around like a chicken headless trying to do everything. In reality, productivity boils down to how little you do rather than how much you do, so it’s less about doing than not doing.
After researching these amazingly successful and productive individuals, I noticed some patterns. There are four things that people who are extremely productive don’t do, and that’s what I’ll discuss today.
But, before we dive into the four things, the thing productive people never do is stop learning. After formal education, the most productive people in the world get into the habit of learning daily and growing through the consumption of knowledge.
Audible has proven to be one of the best ways to do that for me. Audible is the best because you can find a huge number of audiobooks that are available for download and you don’t have to carve out time for reading. You can learn while you’re on the go, while you’re traveling when you’re doing the dishes when taking a walk, and that allows you to incorporate learning into your daily routine.
So, let me share the 4 things that productive people are not doing.
1. Focusing on working hard.
The most productive people do not work hard because they have to work hard and that is the biggest flaw that so many of us make.
But, we all have noticed that society has begun to idolize working hard.
We work hard for the sake of working hard when in reality we should only work hard because the goal that we’re trying to accomplish needs us to work hard.
In spite of this, so many of us work hard for the sake of working hard. If that’s where we put our spotlight we’re gonna end up action faking.
Yet the most productive and the most successful people on this planet never hustle for the sake of hustling. They hustle because they have to hustle in order to reach their goal.
So, set your goal, identify how hard it takes to reach that goal, and then work that hard (as shown below)
2. Wander Aimlessly
The second thing that the world’s most productive people never do is — wander aimlessly.
Most people think that there is a term as — objective productivity, for instance, meditation is productive, and watching tv or playing video games is unproductive but that’s not the case.
Well, there is no such thing as objectively productive.
Productivity is relative. For some people playing video games is productive if it’s allowing them to relax or if that’s what they want to do professionally. If you don’t know where you want to get to, it’s impossible to figure out whether or not you’re making progress towards that goal.
It’s like going on a road trip. You set the end destination and then you see whether or not you’re making progress to that end destination.
The world’s most productive people never wander aimlessly. If you do, you might end up setting a goal as working hard for the sake of working hard or even worse.
3. Worrying about outcomes
I have observed that the most productive people in the world don’t focus on outcomes only.
They pay attention to the processes too because you can control the process but not the outcome directly.
I use this both for my blog writing and for my youtube channel. I try my best to cram as much value into my videos and content as possible. I try to create value when I make videos and submit content on Medium. I want people to watch something, implement it in their lives, benefit from it, and come back and watch another.
I am more concerned with the quality of content and writing than the number of views and followers. In contrast, I know that my goal of gaining more followers will be achieved only if people enjoy the content I post and read it frequently.
I would like to mention one book at this point — The Score Takes Care Of Itself by Bill Walsh. Bill contributed to the NFL’s transformation and he took his team from literally the bottom of the NFL to win the Super Bowl in just two years.
He reveals his secret in the book. He accomplished this by concentrating the team’s efforts on a few issues. He got his players to focus on their positioning as they passed the ball and the way they communicated together.
He advises focusing on the task at hand. The results will follow if you keep your mind focused.
4. Don’t say yes when you want to say no.
Finally, the fourth thing these people do that makes them so productive is quite simple, but it’s more complicated than you might think.
It’s very rare that productive individuals say yes.
Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs think this is the thing that separates a highly successful person from a mediocre one but it’s more complex than it sounds.
When you think of focusing on a task, you think of saying yes to it. But, focusing is about saying NO, and the result of saying NO is going to be some really great initiatives. The problem is nobody else on the globe is going to value your time as much as you do.
How you value your time is directly correlated to how the rest of the populace is going to view your time. We all have a limited amount of time and have to be incredibly careful with the things we commit our time to. If you say yes to a lot of different things you’ll have a divided focus, and with divided focus, there will be divided results.
I also realize that saying no can be hard for some people. So I’ve included two different action steps that you can take in order to simplify this process.
- First of all, the key is to get a deep emotional understanding of the importance of time. If you waste that time you can never get it back, if you focus on that fact you dwell it’s easier to say NO because you’re now comparing two different options.
- Secondly, come up with default replies and practice saying NO. We all face situations in our lives where we will be offered lots of different projects or asked to do lots of different things — so take some time to come up with default responses that you can come up with especially over email. Here is a quick illustration that might be one of the ways to say NO in a more dignified and polished manner. As we all know, NO is not a full sentence on its own.