How They Do It?
Super-productive people are in every industry. Seven consistent habits and skills have been identified that the most productive people regularly practice.
1. Set stretch goals. A big project encourages you to pick up your pace and eliminate all distractions. There is some great magic that occurs when people become riveted by the thought of achieving a stretch goal.
2. Show consistency. We all know people who are 100% reliable. If they say, “It will be done,” it will get done. The most productive people not see their productivity ebb and flow over time; they don’t procrastinate only to pull all-nighters later on. Instead, they figure out how to consistently deliver results, week after week and month after month.
3. Have knowledge and technical expertise. Few things kill productivity faster than a lack of knowledge or expertise. When you know what you’re doing, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for speed. You can get things done both quickly and well. You don’t need to spend time searching online for a good tutorial, or asking a colleague for advice. The most productive people don’t hesitate to ask for help when they needed it…but they don’t need it that often. They also intentionally acquired new skills and worked to expand their expertise. That helped them be skilful, exacting, and quick in their execution.
4. Drive for results. Most people are willing to accept responsibility for accomplishing goals and to work at a reasonable pace to achieve expected results. But there are a few people who have a great desire to accomplish results sooner and quicker. They are overjoyed to be able to check something off their to-do list. They’re competitive — and they compete not only with their colleagues but also with themselves. They like to set new records for performance and then beat their own best.
5. Anticipate and solve problems. The most productive people are great problem-solvers. They come up with innovative solutions and accomplish work more efficiently. They also tend to anticipate roadblocks and begin working on solutions in advance, and so avoid some of the problems that other people run into. Social psychologists call this mental contrasting — thinking about what you want to achieve and what might get in the way of your achieving it — and have found that it helps people achieve their goals.
6. Take initiative. For many people, the hardest part of getting a job done is starting. The most productive people start quickly, and they never wait to be told to begin. They ask for forgiveness, not permission. And indeed, their bias for action can get them into trouble sometimes — they might start executing a project before all parties have bought in, say. But their results tend to speak for themselves.
7. Be collaborative. So far it might sound like we’re describing a person who is a brilliant individual worker but can’t work well with others. The most productive people are highly collaborative and work well with others. They don’t have to spend a lot of time soothing ruffled feathers, because they don’t ruffle many feathers in the first place.
If you want to be more productive yourself, take a look at this list and ask if there’s something you can improve. The most productive people might seem to get it all done through magic — or cutting corners — but as it turns out, extreme productivity is just a set of skills.
Skills that more of us can acquire and use.
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Adapted HBR Zenger & Folkman April 2018