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14 Simple Ways to Be Incredibly Productive: Part 1
July 3, 2014

Adapted from an article by Jeff Haden published June 14 on Linkedin. Haden is a speaker and a contributing editor for Inc. Magazine.

Let’s get right to it.

1. Eliminate one ego commitment.

“We all do things that have more to do with ego than results. Maybe you serve on a committee because you like how it looks on your CV. Maybe you teach at a local college because you like the words ‘adjunct professor.’”

“The things you do mostly for ego are mostly a waste of time. Think about something you do mainly because it makes you look important, smart or cool. If it provides no other ‘value,’ drop it.”

2. Create a happy self.

“When I’m happy, I do better work. You will too.”

3. Stop looking for that (meaningless) extra 10 percent.

“When I start to do something, within a short period of time I start wanting to do it better than other people.”

“Take cycling. I’m faster, fitter … than the average person. But compared to the fast guys, I’m nothing. That makes me ride more and train more and spend tons of hours on a bike — and for what? So I can hang with them for a couple more miles?”

“At that point the improvement to my overall health is incremental at best. And in the meantime I spend hours on cycling that I could spend on working towards more important goals. Or I could just spend more time with my family, the most important goal of all.”

“Weigh the input with the outcome.”

4. Rehearse how you’ll say no.

“It’s important to know, with grace and tact, how to say no.”

“Most of us default to ‘yes’ because we don’t want to seem rude or unfriendly or unhelpful. That also means we default to taking on more than we want or can handle.”

“Maybe your response will be as simple as … ‘I’m sorry, but I just don’t have time.’”

“Whatever you decide to say, rehearse so it comes naturally.”

5. Eliminate one “fun” commitment.

“I played fantasy Premier League soccer. When I thought about it, though, I had no idea why. I could rationalize that it created a nice break. I could rationalize it was like a ‘mental health’ activity that let me step aside from the stress and strain of business life. … But that wasn’t true.”

“If you wouldn’t do something while you were on vacation, there’s no good reason to do it when you’re not.”

6. Set limits.

“Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. … Tasks should only take as long as they need to take — or as long as you decide they should take.”

“Pick a task, set a time limit and stick to that time limit. Necessity, even artificial necessity, is the mother of creativity. You’ll figure out how to make it work.”

7. Rework your nighttime routine.

“Every day the first thing you do is the most important thing you will do. It sets the tone for the rest of the day.”

“Prepare for it the night before. Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground at an all-out sprint the next day. A body in super-fast motion tends to stay in super-fast motion.”