6 Signs You Are More Productive Than 95% of People


If you’re a type-A personality, it can sometimes feel like you’re not doing enough. At the end of the day, there’s this nagging feeling that you could’ve done more. But is that feeling justified?

It might just be that you’re already more productive than 95% of others. Especially when, according to research, the average knowledge worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes in an eight-hour day.

Even on some of my most productive days, I can still feel guilty for not doing more. Nowadays, I understand this isn’t an actual productivity problem, it’s a mindset problem. So, here are six signs that show you might be more productive than most other people.

You Work With Your Long-Term Goals In Mind

The truth is, most people waste a lot of time working on trivial tasks simply because they don’t have clear long-term goals. When you don’t have specific goals to work towards, small tasks seem more important than they actually are.

Studies have shown that only 3% of the US population has written goals. Since most people lack clear goals, they waste a lot of time doing ‘busywork’ instead of making progress in their career or business. I mean, if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you supposed to know which steps to take?

The most productive people, on the other hand, are goal-oriented. Each day, these high-performers work with their long-term goals in mind. They don’t care about how many different tasks they complete in a day — they care about how much progress they make towards their goals. That’s their definition of productivity.

Remember, the number of tasks completed says zero about the amount of progress made. It’s not about being busy, it’s about moving the needle forward to your long-term goals. Don’t mistake activity for progress.

You Know Your Most Productive Hours of The Day

Certain hours of the day are much more productive than other hours of the day. The most efficient people understand this — and they’re highly aware of their most productive hours.

There’s something called your ‘peak energy time,’ which is the time of the day in which you’re naturally most energized, mentally sharp, and disciplined. In other words, it’s your window of opportunity to get a lot done and move the needle forward to your goals.

According to researchthe morning is the most productive time of the day for 75% of people, while the evening is peak energy time for roughly 25% of people. The afternoon, as studies have shown, tends to be the least productive time of the day for most of us.

As Gina Trapani, founding editor of Lifehacker.com, said, “First thing in the morning your mind is clear, the office is quiet, and you haven’t gotten pulled into six different directions — yet. It’s your one opportunity to prioritize the thing that matters to you most before your phone starts ringing and email inbox starts dinging. By knocking out something important on your to-do list before anything else, you get both momentum and a sense of accomplishment before 10 a.m.”

You Protect Your Peak Energy Time

Knowing when you are most productive is one, but protecting these hours is two. The most productive people are very protective about their peak energy time as they understand it’s the optimal window in the day to tackle their most complex, high-impact tasks.

“Show me your calendar and I’ll show you your priorities.” — Ramit Sethi

Highly effective people tend to block the most productive hours in their calendar — usually weeks in advance. By protecting their most productive hours, they won’t fall prey to distractions, appointments, or low-impact work.

Personally, I’ve adopted a simple rule that has exponentially increased my productivity: The morning is for making, the afternoon is for managing.

I use the morning — my peak energy time — for high-impact tasks like writing or working on products. The afternoon is used for managing-type tasks (such as email, administrative work, meetings, etc.) which don’t require me to be at my most productive.

All in all, a true sign of a highly productive person is that they consistently dedicate their most productive hours of the day to work on high-priority tasks with the highest return on investment.

You Practice Deep Work Daily

The most productive people manage to get more done in two or three hours of deep work than most others do in an entire eight-hour workday.

Deep work is when you focus for a specific timeframe (usually 45–90 minute sessions) on a high-priority task free from any distraction. No interruptions allowed — just you and the task in front of you until the deep work session is done.

“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.” — Cal Newport

Today, we live in a world filled with distractions — and it’s only getting worse. A study by Microsoft found that since the year 2000, the average attention span has dropped by 33%.

No wonder, because distractions are all around you. There are a million things fighting for your attention. Smartphones keep on rigging. Email notifications keep popping up. Social media keeps luring you in. Colleagues keep bothering you.

The most effective people understand the importance of eliminating these distractions and practicing deep work each workday. Deep work allows you to get into the flow state, which is the zone of optimal cognitive performance.

Research has shown that in a flow state, productivity increases by 400–500%. This is where you produce your best work. Unfortunately, because of all those distractions, just 5% of people’s workweek is spent in a state of flow. The rest is spent in a state of suboptimal performance.

All in all, turn those notifications off, close the email and social media tab, put on your headphones, and practice deep work to get more done in two or three hours compared to what most people do in eight hours.

You Keep Meetings as Short as Possible

recent survey has shown that 67% of workers think they spend too much time in meetings and believe it distracts them from doing their job.

Highly productive people understand that most meetings aren’t necessary or should be kept as concise as possible. Take Elon Musk, for example, who said, “Please get rid of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.”

Elon even said to “walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.” Of course, easier said than done, but he has a great point. Most meetings are a big time-waster.

Unproductive people secretly love meetings because it’s a low-effort distraction that feels productive. The truth is, most meetings are unnecessary, could be much shorter and concise, or don’t matter to half the people attending.

Paradoxically, most meetings get in the way of the productivity it actually tries to increase. Therefore, the most productive people only schedule meetings that are truly necessary and keep them as concise as possible. Less time spent in meetings means more time to actually produce stuff and make progress.

You Prioritize Getting 7–8 Hours of Sleep Each Night

Sleep is a productivity superpower. There is this popular (and toxic) idea that you need to sacrifice sleep in order to be more productive. In reality, as research shows, the opposite is true.

One study reported that “people sleepless with the hopes of being more productive. This study shows that this is not the case — compared to those who regularly got 7 to 8 hours of sleep, those who reported getting 5 to 6 hours experienced 19 percent more productivity loss, and those who got less than 5 hours of sleep experienced 29 percent more productivity loss.

On top of that, a study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that those who slept less than seven hours per night were more impulsive and had lower levels of willpower. They waste more time procrastinating and get distracted more often.

Nowadays, most of us do knowledge work. It’s the quality of our thinking, focus, decision-making, and creativity that determines the results we’re getting. In other words, the state of our brain directly influences our level of productivity. And a good night’s sleep leads to a well-rested, focused, and high-performing brain.

In other words, sleep is essential for peak performance and productivity. The most effective people understand this and, therefore, make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

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