‘The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favour of holding meetings.’ — Thomas Sowell
I loathe meetings. Loathe. Them. That’s probably one of the reasons why I work for myself because when I worked for other people my days were filled with them and they made me want to punch walls. I’m in no way prone to violence but meetings have always pissed me off. That’s because in my experience, like old mate Sowell says, it’s usually unproductive people that love them the most because it makes them feel like they’re working hard and staying on top of things.
I used to work in a very badly run office and I was forced to sit through 2 hour long meetings once a week about a department I didn’t even work in. The reason why I had to attend? My desk was in this department’s office and the manager didn’t want it to look like I was ‘getting out’ of going to meetings. For real. I was literally going to these meetings to keep up appearances. Such a waste of my time and their money. The manager of this office loved meetings because he didn’t really know what his job was so he’d organise meetings all day to make himself look busy. It drove me bonkers and useless meetings are something I’ve been avoiding like the plague ever since.
The problem with being a productive person is that a lot of unproductive behaviours present themselves as productive. Meetings are a big culprit. Failing to delegate is another big issue. Have you ever had a manager who decides it’s super important for them to organise the Christmas party despite the fact that it’s a better use of company money for an entry-level employee to do it? And you’re left shaking your head at this person who is getting paid 100k a year and they’ve done nothing in the past two days except call restaurants to ask about Christmas bookings. Deep breath Carly… I should become a professional office productivity auditor. If that’s not a thing, I just invented my dream job.
Another incredibly frustrating thing about unproductive people is that often they have no idea how unproductive they’re being.
Here are five things productive people do every day…
1. They practice self-care
Yesterday was a Sunday for me and I was totally wrecked. I’d had a busy week of 14 hour days including writing, filming and travel. I’d recorded 6 episodes between my two podcasts and written out and recorded 4 patterns for Crochet Coach. I got up in the morning and I was ready to tackle a big productive Sunday when I realised that was a really silly idea. I slipped into a cool summer dress, made myself a cup of tea and parked my butt on the couch. I crocheted, painted my nails, did some body maintenance, went for a little walk and watched about 8 collective hours of true crime documentaries. It was glorious and it was exactly what I needed. If I had opened my laptop, I would have aimlessly clicked around the internet, not really doing anything. By embracing my need for rest, I chose the most productive path.
2. They honour their morning routine
My weekday mornings are almost identical.
7 – Wake up
7.15 – Get dressed
7.30 – Gym class
8.30 – Home, shower, drink a huge glass of water
9 – Sitting at my desk ready to work with a cup of herbal tea
If I skip the gym, I’m screwed. I’ll end up showering longer or I’ll lie around in bed for a while. I find it very hard to concentrate if I haven’t had my morning sweat, it’s like it signals my body to get with the program. Do I like going to the gym every single morning without fail? Not particularly but it’s an integral part of my morning routine and it affects my whole day if I don’t get it right.
Tip: The next time you have an amazingly productive and high energy day, try to figure out why it happened. Did you get a really good night sleep the night before? Did you get up early for exercise? Did you wake up a little bit earlier to spend some time leisure reading?
The trick here is to find out what works for you. Mr Smaggle starts his day with 30 minutes of leisure reading. I tried doing this and it sucked for me. I’m very sharp in the morning and ready to slay the day so engaging in a leisure activity just kills that energy for me. Mr Smaggle can barely make himself a coffee in the morning so exercise is off the cards. His day better spent with a gentle, slow start. With your morning routine, it’s all about finding what works for you.
3. They follow the 80/20 rule
Did you know that only 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results? This applies to almost everything in life. So eating well is the 20 percent of my effort that equals 80 percent of my overall results. Your closest three friends are the 20 percent of your friendships that give you the 80 percent of your most fulfilling human relationships. With work, you might spend 20 percent of your time working on a project that accounts for 80 percent of your success in your role. Is this making sense? So for me, I focus on spending my time on the things that bring me revenue. Blog content, Crochet Coach, client work and freelancing. Because that’s what brings in 80 percent of my income. My other time is spent on other things like my two podcasts. I enjoy doing my podcasts but I devote a very specific amount of time to them as they don’t generate consistent revenue. That may change but for the time being, they’re not part of the 20 percent that produces my 80 percent so they’re lower down on my priority list.
4. They anticipate future fails
I’m almost never late for anything because I allow for things to go wrong. I allow for late trams, traffic, road works, Uber surcharging. I approach most tasks with a very wide buffer for error. For example, if I’m going to write a sponsored post for a brand, I’ll usually put aside a whole to do it just in case there’s some extra research or a particularly difficult set of KPIs I have to consider for the post. It seems counterproductive to allow more time in order to save time but it’s a method that works very well for me.
When you next find yourself planning a task session, ask yourself ‘What could go wrong here?’ and allow extra time for potential disaster. If the disaster doesn’t happen? You’ve got a spare 20 minutes on your hands. Awesome.
5. They take on harder tasks earlier in the day
The most important things I need to do each day get started before midday. They don’t get done, they get started. Half the trouble with getting things done is opening the file. It’s like going to the gym. Thinking about it and getting dressed in your exercise clothes is so much worse than actually doing the class. If you have a big thing to do that day, get it started early in the day.
Further reading –