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The 5 Secrets Of Very Productive People Are Just Common Sense

Boosting productivity is about working smarter, not harder.

Charlie Harary

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More than a decade ago, Microsoft got curious about how many hours per week workers are actually productive. They ran a survey prompting people to rate their workplace productivity, and the findings were pretty alarming.

In the U.S, people work an average of 45 hours a week and consider 16 of those hours unproductive. That amounts to more than just bathroom and coffee breaks. When you consider the opportunity cost of 35 percent of work time being unproductive, employers and employees need to take notice.

If you want to boost your productivity, it’s not by working longer, it’s by working smarter. It’s about learning how to squeeze more out of every working hour.

Emulate these five traits of uber-productive people and you’ll be amazed by how much more effective you will be:

1. They plan their day

Life is demanding. There is a steady stream of emails, texts, calls and ads screaming for your attention. If you are not able to focus on a set task, you’ll spend all day doing things that are not productive to your goals.

To be uber-productive, you need to be vigilant about planning your day. Either the night before or first thing in the morning, make a short list of key tasks that you have to accomplish and map out when you plan to complete them. Without a concrete, specific, measurable plan, you have no way of knowing if you moved the ball forward or not.

Related: 5 Work Productivity Hacks Used By Rockstar Entrepreneurs

2. They lead with the pain

Uber-productive people don’t push off the daunting tasks on their to-do list until the end of the day. If they procrastinated, these projects would never get tackled.

Do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on your list first because that’s when you have the most energy. After you conquer the task, you’ll not only feel relieved but motivated to tackle another. Otherwise, you spend the day with that task hanging ominously over your head.

Emails-flagged-for-later

3. They never touch things twice

How many times have you “flagged” the same email to review later? This is the biggest time-suck. You give the email, project or task your attention, but not enough to do something about it. Productive people don’t push things off until later.

Related: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

As soon as you turn your attention to something, act. Do it, delegate it or delete it. Remember, procrastination is a productivity killer. The “right time” rarely comes around, and when you push things off they build up.

A molehill quickly becomes a mountain, and it’s easy to procrastinate when you have a mountain to climb.

4. They say no

If you can’t do something, say so. Stop worrying that unless you say yes to everything, people won’t value or like, you.

Uber-productive people know how to draw boundaries and say no if there’s too much on their plate. Research shows that the harder time you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.

Stop using phrases like “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think I can.” No is a powerful two-letter word, and if you want to be more productive, you need to get comfortable using it.

5. They don’t multitask

Multi-tasking is finally out of fashion, thank goodness.

The human mind is most effective when it focuses on a single line of thought. Multitasking challenges us to simultaneously focus on a jumble of ideas. Not only is this stressful, but it’s unproductive.

Related: 7 Traits That Define Work Productivity Superstars

Switch-tasking is leaps and bounds more effective. Focus on one task at a time without distraction or interruption, and you’ll produce higher quality work more efficiently.

To sum it up

Increasing productivity isn’t about moving faster or learning to expertly juggle five tasks at once. Productivity is about planning ahead, starting your day strong, tackling things head on and learning to say no, and increasing your focus and attention on the task at hand.

The more productive you become, the less stress you’ll feel and the more time you’ll have to take those coveted work breaks.

Productivity will be the best – most liberating – thing that ever happened to you.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Charlie Harary, Esq., is the CEO of H3 & Co., an advisory and investment firm based in New York City. H3 has investments in approximately 25, mostly early stage, companies in industries from robotics to healthcare, catering, food distribution, real estate, retail and media. Harary is also a clinical professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz

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You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

Follow These 8 Steps To Stay Focused And Reach Your Goals

Decrease the amount of noise in your head.

Nina Zipkin

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Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work – like checking emails – and then move onto to the harder things, you should try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with with a bigger, more creative endeavor first thing.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day – maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour – to spend on a given project.

Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

going-for-a-walk

You can’t focus if your are stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold TurkeyFreedom and Self Control block out the internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made SimpleCalm and Headspace.

For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win

6. Change up what’s in your headphones

headphones

While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more.

Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person.

Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be the most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review.

“Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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