Productive people seem like machines. They rarely lose focus and rarely (if ever) miss a deadline. But in reality, they just realize when, where and how they are most productive—and they capitalize on those things. Productivity isn’t a 12-step guide; it’s a personal reflection on you and how you work and in what environments foster your ability to work. Take these habits and tailor them to your life. They don’t have to perfect and they might not all fit—that’s OK. The point is that you’re taking the time to assess your perfect environment and what you can do to achieve that environment.
1. They Capitalize on Their Most Productive Time
Not an early riser? Don’t fear. Contrary to popular belief, early risers aren’t necessarily more productive. The important thing is finding the time where you feel most productive and attacking your biggest goals during that time.
2. They Rarely Skip a Meal
You might feel like you’re being more productive by working through lunch, but your brain needs the fuel from food to stay sharp and focused. Commit to taking time to eat throughout the day, even if it’s only 15-minute snack breaks eating high energy foods, such as nuts, lean meats and antioxidant vegetables.
3. They Rest
Just like skipping meals, skimping on your sleep schedule is never a good idea. Your body needs between 6 to 8 hours to be fully refreshed and ready for the day. But even more important is what can happen while you sleep. Your ever active brain often works through complex problems that stumped you throughout the day. Next time, before you go to sleep, think about a particularly difficult problem and let your brain do the work while your body rests.
4. They Delegate
Insanely productive people seem like they’re cut from a different cloth. They never seem to be overwhelmed or miss deadlines. But oftentimes the most productive people know they can’t do everything alone. They’re not afraid to reach out to their team for help. Try boosting your productivity by delegating tasks that you don’t really need a hand in.
5. They Cut the Chitchat
If you’re in an office setting, chances are you spend at least 25 percent of your day chatting with your co-workers, catching up on the latest gossip or meandering around the break room. Productive people know that time is money. Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t foster healthy relationships with your team—in fact many times those relationships can boost happiness, which in turn boosts productivity. Just try to limit it to 15 minutes per day.
6. They Streamline
It’s easy to get into your daily workflow without a second thought. Maybe you spend 45 minutes on emails, and then move onto your to-do list. What if you cut that to 20 minutes, answering the most urgent emails first and left the others for another time? What if you answered emails when you’re waiting to catch a flight or in the five minutes of downtime between meetings? The point is, you should constantly be looking for ways to streamline your day, cutting out the time-suck tasks and leaving more room for the tasks that will create real growth in your career.
7. They Allow Time for Personal Growth
Productive people are successful because they also know how to balance. Working 14 hour days might make you feel productive, but your health, focus and true productivity will suffer. Give yourself time to have fun, hang out with friends, read a book you enjoy or take a walk in nature. Sometimes all we need for a quick productivity boost is a simple break from work.