12 Daily Habits of Highly Productive People

5 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

People often make the mistake of setting lofty goals that are entirely unmanageable. This leads to a lack of interest, or a rapid burnout. Fortunately, if you start a search online, you can explore daily habits of highly productive people.

This year, choose to pursue your goals by first changing your habits. A reset of your bad habits will do wonders in helping you reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Resetting your habits can help you accomplish more, so read on!

1. They make lists

Making a list is one of the easiest things that you can do to help you stay on task throughout the day. It’s so easy to forget a task or get caught up doing something else without realizing just how much you need to get done. By making a list and putting it somewhere where you can refer to it often, you ensure that you never forget something important.

It’s OK to change the list or remove items, but just make sure that you make a conscious choice. It’s hard to be productive when you’re constantly flitting from one task to another with no sense of what you need to get accomplished in a day.

2. They don’t mind taking a shortcut

Some people think that being productive means that you need to do everything yourself. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

People who are highly productive are comfortable taking shortcuts, and there are so many apps, tools, and little tricks now that have been developed specifically to help busy people manage their time. Whether it’s a service like Unroll.me that helps you unsubscribe from junk mail, or a daily email newsletter that summarizes the latest news stories, shortcuts can really help streamline your day.

Check the app store or tech blogs for the latest life hacks that you can use to help increase your productivity.

3. They focus on the positive

One of the most useful things you can learn on your road to increased productivity is positive self-talk. People who enjoy a highly productive lifestyle are good at being their own cheerleader. They don’t beat themselves up when things don’t go their way; they view their mistakes as a learning opportunity, rather than a stumbling block.

A recent UK study found that happier people are 12 percent more productive in the workplace than those who are unhappy. It’s hard to focus on productivity when it feels like things in life aren’t going your way, so don’t be afraid to seek help from a therapist or mental health professional if you need some assistance.

4. They meditate

Another way you can help improve both your mental health and your productivity is through meditation. Even a few minutes of meditation every day has been shown to help people feel more focused, calm, and in control. The calmer you feel, the easier it is to stick to the task at hand and avoid distractions.

There are tons of different options for getting started. Download a free app, or find a YouTube video of a guided meditation session if you need some support at the beginning. If you feel confident on your own, all you need is a place to sit quietly, and a few minutes to allow your mind to settle down and prepare for the day ahead.

5. They get enough sleep

The one thing that’s absolutely essential to ensuring a productive day is a solid night of sleep. The right amount varies from person to person. Some people are happiest getting around six hours a night, while others need closer to nine to feel truly rested. Whatever your preference, the best thing you can do for yourself every day is get enough sleep.

Use a high-tech monitoring device like a FitBit, or just use a pen and paper to track your sleep and wake times. Once you’ve discovered your optimal amount of sleep, aim for that number every night.

6. They prioritize exercise

Another way to be more productive throughout the day is to maintain a regular exercise regime. This can be anything that appeals to you, be it running, swimming, or even a group activity like joining a league or team. Exercising helps lift our mood through the release of endorphins, and can also help manage stress. Exercise can also help combat the bad posture that often occurs in people who are at a desk all day.

Whether you work out on your own or in a group, keep yourself accountable by tracking your progress, and reward yourself whenever you hit a new milestone.

7. They set up rituals

Another way to ensure you have a productive day is to set up daily rituals for yourself. These rituals can be anything you want them to be, but the benefit is in their consistency. If you wake up every day knowing how your day will unfold, it’s much easier to feel like you’re on top of things than if you’re rushing around trying to figure out what comes next.

A ritual can be as simple as enjoying a cup of tea every morning while you check your emails, or making your bed every morning. The more you incorporate regular, healthy habits into your life, the more productive your days will be.

8. They’ve learned how to say “no”

Successful people, regardless of whether they’re Bill Gates or simply the president of the PTA, know how to say “no.” They do so nicely, in a way that makes people feel like they’ve been heard, but they say “no” nonetheless.

Highly productive people understand their time is valuable, and that they can’t say “yes” to everything, so they’ve learned to opt out nicely. The more you take on, the less energy you’ll have to devote to the things you really care about.

9. They have a gratitude-focused mindset

One reason why highly productive people are comfortable saying “no” is because they are content with what they have. A gratitude-focused mindset is a key part of being productive.

If you’re productive because you’re frantically looking for the next thing that will improve your life or make you happy, it’s likely you’ll burn out before you get there. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your life, and put your energy into the good things that you’ve already got going on.

10. They avoid decision fatigue

For highly productive people, being busy can be extremely energizing. They thrive on decision making and getting things done and go to bed each day content.

The key to getting things done and not feeling completely exhausted is to avoid decision fatigue. There’s only so much willpower a human can exhibit in a day, and if you spend the entire day making decisions, you’ll quickly become exhausted and stop caring about the options put in front of you.

Avoid decision fatigue by shifting important meetings to earlier in the day and outsourcing trivial decisions to other people.

11. They know when to take breaks

Another key habit of highly productive people is that they work hard, but aren’t afraid to take a break. They know they have a limited amount of productivity in a day, and don’t want to waste it if they get stuck on a problem. Often, things will become much clearer if we can clear our heads for a moment.

Grab some food, go for a walk around the block, or even meditate for a few moments. You’ll always feel better afterward.

12. They limit distractions

It may seem that highly productive people are able to avoid distractions and work much harder than the rest of us, but that’s just not true. Productive people get distracted as much as anyone else, but they know to limit distractions before they become a problem. You’ll work much more efficiently if your workspace is free of distractions, so get rid of that collage of photos, or that ticking clock you just can’t ignore.

Jordana Weiss