Real productivity isn’t a shortcut, but a lifelong pursuit.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good productivity hack, especially if it saves us time and energy. But it’s far too easy to obsess over the quick fix, when what we should really be doing is developing our focus, discipline, and resilience for the long haul.
As Ramit Sethi says: “Real productivity takes hard work.”
And if we want to achieve success we need to work on building good habits and a successful mindset.
Common traits of successful people
Successful people work hard to develop their inner resources. They will rely on these inner tools time and time again to overcome obstacles and reach success. These are some of the common mental traits of successful people.
They take a brick-by-brick approach. Effective leaders know that progress doesn’t happen overnight. That in order to create success you need to build it brick-by-brick. Success is the result of the small decisions you make every day over time. It’s about consistency, not magic.
They are problem solvers. Productive people know that when Plan A doesn’t work, they go for Plan B, C, and D until they find the right solution.
They say yes to the right things. Successful people know how to prioritize. They have honed the art of elimination and saying no.
They are curious. Successful people are lifelong learners. They are humble enough to know that they don’t have all the answers, and they seek out a variety of perspectives to better inform their understanding.
As you can see, these commonalities that successful people possess are not life hacks, but rather, a long-term strategy to achieve their goals.
Let’s take a closer look at how to develop these inner resources. These are the inner tools you will have at your disposal to produce good work, be productive, and achieve success.
Brick-by-brick approach: learn how to build good habits over time
If you want to produce good work, you need to have good habits in place.
For example, let’s say you want to write a novel. While anyone would love to finish writing a novel in a day, we know it doesn’t work like that. Along with discipline and dedication, you would also need to have a certain mastery of the writing craft.
So what good habits would you need to write that novel?
To achieve focus and discipline, maybe it’s writing for 30 minutes without stopping. To develop a mastery of the craft, maybe it’s taking classes and joining a writer’s group.
Each day, you could take small steps to gradually build those habits. As James Clear often says, it’s about being one percent better everyday. Whether it’s writing for 15 minutes or reading a book about novel writing, these micro actions will help you become better in the long run.
The key is to be consistent. By putting in the work, one brick at a time, you will reach your dream goal before you know it.
Problem solving: learn how to make better decisions
Do you have trouble making decisions? Maybe you’re avoiding acting on a decision because you’re afraid that it will lead to the wrong outcome. So instead of making a choice, you remain stuck in this decision limbo.
But the more decisions you make, the better you will get at making them. After all, you won’t know the outcome of the decision until after you’ve made a choice. By making decisions, you will get better at reading the tea leaves and detecting the patterns of your decision-making.
You can write out a list to help you evaluate your decision. Or ask for advice from someone you trust. Aftwards, reflect on the results to better inform your process the next time around.
In addition to making firm decisions, successful people know that in order to be productive they have to come up with good solutions.
Whether you’re working on a work project or a dream goal, challenges are a routine part of the process. It’s not the challenge itself that matters but how you respond to it that will shape you as a person.
Similar to the decision-making process, you can find solutions by making a list and plotting out possible steps you can take. You can also refer to similar problems you’ve had in the past and try to apply those solutions to your current situation.
Again, there is no quick remedy to problem solving or decision making. Successful people know that good judgment and problem solving skills come with patience and practice.
Saying no: learn how to prioritize
If you want to be really productive, you need to stop taking on everything under the sun.
Successful people know how to prioritize. They define the imperatives of their day, week, month, and year. And they map out a schedule that serves those priorities.
Having trouble defining your priorities? Ask yourself: What do I want to work on? What needs to be done?
Maybe you want to work on a hundred different things. That’s okay. But pick 1-3 items from your list and focus on those 3 things first. Then tackle the next 3 items, so forth and so on.
If coworkers or loved ones ask you to take on extra work or tasks that are not aligned with your priorities, then diplomatically say no.
Being curious: learn how to broaden your perspective
To move the needle on your career and achieve greater success, you’ll want to indulge your curiosity.
Whether it’s reading more books, meeting new people, or taking classes, self-education will hone your current skills and develop new ones.
Curiosity doesn’t just stop at books and classes. Productive people also bring their curiosity to the workplace. They not only seek out insight and advice from mentors and people they admire, but they also make sure to ask junior employees as well. Successful people know how important it is to capture different perspectives.
Curiosity also helps ensure that your life will never remain stagnant.
Being curious about your role, your job, and the world at large will help you dream bigger and set bigger goals. Your innate curiosity will fuel your desire to succeed, and give you the resilience you need to improve and overcome setbacks.Written by JiJi Lee.