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The 10 habits of highly productive people

​1. Checklist Five
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​1. Checklist Five

By Devashish Chakravarty

If you find it useful and satisfying to tick off tasks from a list, then add a couple of rules to your process. Firstly, never multitask. Do one thing at a time. Your day gets done faster and with lesser energy and stress. Secondly and more importantly, your daily checklist cannot be longer than five items. Only when you force yourself to prune down tasks do you really focus on those critical things that can make your day insanely productive.

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​2. 20% everywhere
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​2. 20% everywhere

Before you start a project, implement the 80-20 rule. Only 20% of the effort, time or tasks within a project will yield 80% of the output you desire. Identify and ruthlessly focus only on that critical 20%. The rest you can eliminate, forget, delegate or automate. For example, your 20% contribution to a project can come from putting the right team together, giving them the right mission and motivation. The rest 80% will get done without you.

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​3. Start with self
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​3. Start with self

Most highly productive and successful people spend the first part of the day on themselves. The daily habit of an early morning combined with physical exercise, quiet time, reading/learning and a leisurely breakfast gives enough time to invest in yourself and charge up before the day picks up steam, which is the best productivity investment in the long term.

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​4. Go big, go deep
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​4. Go big, go deep

As a high achiever, start your day with the most challenging project or toughest task. Take out time to go deep and make big strides before other distractions intrude into your day. Since your energy level and focus are high, your big stuff gets completed in lesser time and this sense of achievement then drives your energy throughout your day.

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​5. Block in, block out
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​5. Block in, block out

When you are working, block out time wasters and distractors like a ringing phone, notifications and even sudden thoughts. If you are reminded of something else to do, write it down in a distraction list and return to your task. Similarly, block yourself in so that it is difficult for people to access you before you complete the task you have set your mind to. Blocking is your productivity multiplier.

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​6. Work small, work slots
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​6. Work small, work slots

Efficient people aren’t scared by huge unpleasant projects. Divvy up the big challenge into extremely small tasks. Set aside 25-minute time slots to focus continuously on any one task at hand, also known as the Pomodoro technique. Doing so builds up momentum and keeps you going through challenging goals even when motivation is low.

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​7. Take breaks, get bored
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​7. Take breaks, get bored

If you don’t find the time to be bored, then you will not generate creative solutions for work and productivity. Take breaks often, both scheduled and unscheduled. Get up from your seat and take a 5-minute walk in the office corridor. Or grab a coffee break with a colleague. Come back recharged and with fresh ideas.

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​8. More automation
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​8. More automation

There is huge merit in automating your life and reducing the number of micro-decisions you need to take. Automate your bill payments, daily chores, meeting processes and delegate your decision frameworks. Free up your energy and bandwidth for the things that only you can do or what really moves the needle for you.

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9. Reduce communication
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9. Reduce communication

As a professional, it is easy to fall into the communication trap where you are busy attending meetings and responding to emails through the day, thus achieving little by way of productivity. Reduce operational communication to twice a day. Slot all your regular meetings in one slot during the day and have at the most two slots for emails.

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10. Manage energy, say no
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10. Manage energy, say no

Energy management is more important than time management. The best way to stay on top of your energy levels is to figure out routines and habits for sleep, food and exercise. Say “No” to distractors that break habits or drain energy. Adequate sleep, right food and exercise are the best kept secrets of the high achievers!

(The writer is Founder and CEO at Quezx.com and Headhonchos.com)

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