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« Productive v. Unproductive | Main | The Top 10 Ways of Being Unproductive »

The Top 10 Ways of Being Productive

  1. Learn to say no
    The number one time management tool is the word “no”. Learn how to say no effectively. And remember that the most important person to say no to is yourself!
  2. Be systematic
    Good systems are at the heart of being productive. You can’t work creatively if you are constantly having to sort out some mess that has happened because your systems don’t work properly.
  3. Finish what you start
    This is one of life’s most important rules. When you start something you should keep going on it until either you have finished it or it has proved not to be a worthwhile project for you.
  4. Keep on top
    Being on top of your work is one of the best sources of energy. But you can only keep on top of your work if you don’t take on more work than you can do.
  5. Be very selective about what you take on
    This follows on from the previous point. You should only take on what you have time to do properly. You will know when you have taken on too much because you will not be able to keep on top of your work.
  6. Be persistent
    Keep working on something until it is the way you want it to be. And then make sure you can maintain it that way. Things won’t be the way you want them unless you are persistent in aiming for what you want.
  7. Take remedial action immediately
    When something goes wrong, don’t wait around to put it right. Do it now. Nothing drains your energy so much as things which aren’t working correctly, whether they are equipment, systems or projects.
  8. Be clear about your long-term goals
    Your long-term goals are what give direction to your present work. Without them you are just drifting or stuck.
  9. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone
    Productivity always involves going out of your comfort zone. Remaining in your comfort zone is known as “being in a rut”. If you do the same old thing over and over again you will set it in stone in your life.
  10. Do first things first
    Identify what the most important thing is that you want to do each day and do it first. Then the second and the third. After that you can worry about the routine minor stuff.

Reader Comments (6)

Good stuff Mark!

Regarding #3: I personally found that the easiest way to finish a task or project is not to think of finishing them but always to start from where you left off. It seems to me that the thought of "finishing" can sometimes cause resistance, but the thought of "starting" less so.
March 3, 2016 at 9:19 | Registered Commenternuntym

This is true. But I was thinking of the fact of whether one finishes the project or not, rather than the method of how one finishes it.
March 3, 2016 at 12:00 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
I love this list and the previous day's list . You can't beat them for the insights they produce when I look at my personal life. My only other observation is that the lists apply not only to personal productivity, but also to productivity of teams. I can see many of the points made apply to teams that do knowledge-based work.
March 3, 2016 at 13:14 | Unregistered CommenterPaul B
This is a great list of "productivity hacks," Mark, for which I thank you! I am wondering, though, how #3 "Finish what you start" squares with "little and often," where one returns to the task again and again, rather than "going on it until you have finished it."
March 3, 2016 at 21:03 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I don't think it means finish what you start in one sitting, rather finish what you start before you take on more commitments.
March 3, 2016 at 23:12 | Unregistered CommenterDAZ

<< I am wondering, though, how #3 "Finish what you start" squares with "little and often," where one returns to the task again and again, rather than "going on it until you have finished it." >>

This refers to the fact of finishing something, rather than the method by which you finish it. For example if you decide you are going to read "War and Peace" you are hardly going to read it in one sitting. If you decide to become a Golf Professional you are hardly going to achieve that in one sitting either.

Yet it will be perfectly obvious to you and to the world if you give up on either.
March 3, 2016 at 23:54 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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