Want to be more productive? Want to get more done than other people? Want to get a lot more done than other people?
You can--as long as you also think differently than other people.
And that means changing a few bad habits.
1. Stop making excuses for doing less.
Norman Mailer once said, "Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day."
Productive people don't make excuses. They forge ahead, because they know establishing great habits takes considerable time and effort. They know how easy it is to instantly create a bad habit by giving in, even just one time.
2. Stop letting disapproval or even ridicule stand in your way.
Work too hard, strive too hard, appear to be too ambitious, try to stand out from the crowd--it's a lot easier, and much more comfortable, to reel it in and fit in.
Pleasing the (average-performing) crowd is something productive people don't worry about. (They may think about it, but then they keep pushing forward.)
Productive people hear the criticism, take the potshots, endure the laughter or derision or even hostility--and stick to measuring themselves and their efforts by their own standards.
And, in the process, they achieve what they want to achieve.
3. Stop letting fear hold you back.
A past client is an outstanding and extremely successful comic. Audiences love him. He's crazy good.
Yet he still has panic attacks before he walks onstage. He knows he'll melt down, sweat through his shirt, feel sick to his stomach, and all the rest. It's just the way he is.
So, just before he goes on he takes a quick shower, puts on fresh clothes, drinks a bottle of water, jumps up and down, and does a little shadowboxing.
He's still scared. He knows he'll always be scared. He accepts it as part of the process. Pre-show fear is part of the deal. So he manages it--and keeps on moving forward.
Anyone hoping to achieve great things gets nervous. Anyone trying to achieve great things gets scared.
Productive people aren't braver than others; they just find the strength to keep moving forward. They realize fear is paralyzing while action creates confidence and self-assurance.
4. Stop waiting for inspiration.
Most people wait for an idea. Most people think creativity happens. They expect a divine muse will someday show them a new way, a new approach, or a new concept.
And they wait and wait and wait.
Occasionally, great ideas do just come to us. Mostly, though, creativity is the result of effort: toiling, striving, refining, testing, and experimenting. The work itself results in inspiration.
Productive people don't wait for ideas. They don't wait for inspiration. They know that big ideas most often come from people who do, not people who dream.
5. Stop turning down the help you need.
Pretend you travel to an unfamiliar country, you know only a few words of the language, and you're lost and a little scared. Would you ask for help? Of course.
No one knows everything. No one is great at everything. Yet most people soldier on and hope effort will overcome a lack of knowledge or skill.
And it does, but only to a point.
Productive people ask for help. They know asking for help is a sign of strength--and is the key to achieving a lot more.
6. Stop waiting.
At times, you will lack motivation and self-discipline. At times, you'll be easily distracted. At times, you'll fear failure or success.
Procrastination is a part of what makes people human; it's not possible to completely overcome any of those shortcomings.
Wanting to put off a difficult task is normal. Avoiding a challenge is normal.
But think about a time you put off a task, finally got started, and then, once into it, thought, "I don't know why I kept putting this off--it's going really well. And it didn't turn out to be nearly as hard as I imagined."
It never is.
Productive people try not to think about the pain they'll feel in the beginning. They focus on how good they will feel once they're engaged and involved.
And they get started. And then they don't stop.
7. Stop stopping.
Productive people finish, unless there's a really, really good reason not to finish, which, of course, there almost never is.