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12 Habits Of Productive People

Lisa Mosby Lisa Mosby , 3/26/2014
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R. David Bulen, CA, Productivity CollageWish you wasted less time and got more done? Welcome to the club. So why is it, then, when we mean well and are focused on the task at hand, we can still manage to get bogged down by things like emails and weekly reports? The key to being productive is knowing your priorities, notes Robert Pozen, a senior lecturer of business administration at Harvard Business School. He's also the former president of Fidelity and executive chairman of MFS Investment Management, author of "Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours," and teaches courses on maximizing personal productivity. Being "productive means getting a lot done relative to something. But what's the 'something'?" Pozen explains to HuffPost. "You could be a productive cook, professor, gardener [or] salesperson. The question is what it is you're trying to achieve." We asked Pozen and Adam Grant, a professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success," to share the secret habits of productive people -- so you can become one too. 1. They're not chained to email. According to Pozen, email is one of the biggest barriers to productivity: People "are overwhelmed by email; they don't know how to deal with it." He has a rule to not spend every minute checking email; instead, he makes a point to check it just once or twice an hour, and spend much of that time looking at just the subject lines to determine what is actually worth reading. 2. They handle things once. Pozen employs a strategy called "OHIO," which stands for "only handle it once." For emails that are worth the attention, he handles them once by responding as soon as he reads it. And then that's it -- it's done and handled. 3. They have a system for getting it all done. Tony Hsieh, the CEO of, felt like he was spending all of his time answering emails, yet important emails were still going unanswered because of his overflowing inbox. So, he invented a technique called "Yesterbox," which essentially involves dealing with yesterday's emails today. As he explains on
The great thing about this is when you get up in the morning, you know exactly how many emails you have to get through, there's a sense of progress as you process each email from yesterday and remove it from your inbox, and there's actually a point when you have zero emails left to process from yesterday.
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