Site icon Dan Silvestre

The Only 5 Work Habits You’ll Ever Need For Great Results

Work Habits

How do you create effective work habits?

You probably struggle with procrastination, time management, or focus. Everybody has been there before. It’s just how work is supposed to be.

Or is it?

Sometimes, it’s easy to be productive. But more often than not, it’s hard to get any work.

Why?

This is because you don’t rely on work habits.

Everybody can be productive once in a while. But if you want consistent progress, you need the right work habits.

It is easy to overlook your habits in a busy schedule. They take time to make an impact and you can’t wait weeks to see results. You got deadlines tomorrow!

But what if you could get immediate results while building long-term habits?

You’d finish the project and have more free time.

The question isn’t whether you need them or not, but what are the best work habits?

If you Google the question, you’ll find dozens of obvious tips: be positive, take initiative, show up on time,…

But if you only apply the five I’m about to show you, you’ll become unstoppable at work.

In fact, most of your success will come from this one:

#1 Deep-Work Habit

It’s no secret that great results come from hard work. But when you only have 24h a day, there’s only one way to multiply your output: focus.

How you work determines how much you do. Improve your focus, and it will take you less effort to finish your projects.

What happens when you combine hard and smart work? You get deep work.

Here’s how:

Free Yourself From Distractions

Focus happens when there’s nothing else other than the task you want to finish.

All it takes is tiny changes:

Once you get rid of this resistance, your focus will appear like magic.

Work With Intention

Work doesn’t get done by just looking at it from your desk. If you’re “at work” with your mind at something else, you’re either getting nothing done, making mistakes, or wasting your time.

What to do about it?

Mind that it’s harder to focus the longer you use this “superpower.” That’s why you need to…

Optimize Downtime For Focus

It’s simple. The better you recover, the better you focus.

By recover, I mean:

You can improve your recovery by:

Worrying less, in short. Who would have thought that not working makes you work better?

Not only downtime makes deep work possible. It’s essential for the next key habit…

#2 Consistency Habit

When the best rewards come from the long term, it’s not enough to get it right once. As they say:

“Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”

Why is this second on the list? Because you can’t get results without consistency.

You can’t be productive unless you’re producing.

Consistency means you have no problem working (even if you don’t feel like it).

But wait, it’s easier than it sounds.

Progressive Load

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” — James Clear

Therefore, the secret is to improve your systems:

If you work too much today, you will make excuses not to work tomorrow. It is best to work at a pace you can see yourself following daily.

And the easiest way to do so is by doing it at the same time every day.

Schedule Your Priorities

I don’t recommend you to just write your priorities on a to-do list. You’ll find excuses to drag your priorities to the end of the day. There will always be something more “important” to do.

You need to allocate time to your priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey

For example:

If your goal is to read 30 minutes a day, go to your calendar and schedule:

4 PM to 4:30 PM – Read Atomic Habits

If something comes up at that time, your first instinct will not be to say yes. Instead, you will weigh in the benefits of each task a see what is best for you.

This way, you will be more consistent and less stressed.

Track Your Progress

What do you need to do today? How much did you actually do?

When you don’t track your progress, you signal to your brain the task isn’t important. Chances are you will fill your time with unimportant work and procrastinate.

If it’s not worth tracking, it’s not worth doing.

The solution?

Once your work pattern is more predictable, you’re ready to prioritize results.

#3 Prioritization Habit

No matter the project, there’s always one task that moves the needle. Nothing else counts unless you do complete that task. Especially when your time is limited.

Don’t try to do everything. Focus on the essential.

It may be intimidating, but this habit will save you hundreds of hours at work.

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker

Avoid The Productive Procrastination Trap

Procrastination rarely means doing nothing. It’s about doing what makes you feel productive as long as it’s not the thing you need to do.

I call it a trap because it allows you to work on easier tasks by delaying the most important ones.

Don’t get me wrong. This “trap” can make you more productive. But you need to use it as a support, never as the primary method:

Plan Your Day

When you feel productive, it’s easy to feel in control. But that feeling is misleading when the completed tasks aren’t important.

If you don’t plan your day, you’ll end up reacting to the distractions that come up.

The fix is simple:

Tip: The best way to prioritize is to allocate more time to your MIT. If you have a complex schedule, that costs you efficiency due to context switching.

Minimize Context Switching

Context switching isn’t any better than multitasking. When you start more tasks than you finish, it’s harder for the brain to prioritize.

The answer? Minimize:

Not only will you manage your priorities better, but also save at least 20% of your time.

#4 Time-Management Habit

Anybody can do almost anything if you give them enough time. The problem is: time is scarce.

Time costs you opportunities. And you neither can create habits without it. That’s why time management must 100% be on your habit list.

So how do you do it?

Label Your Time

Despite its scarcity, time is useless until you use it. Without meaning, you’ll simply waste it.

Once you give it a purpose, that will encourage you to protect time and create more:

Labeling time keeps you organized. But to create more time, you need a sense of urgency: treat every hour as if it was the last.

Pro Tip: When using work timers, don’t use countdowns. Instead, use a stopwatch to see how long you’ve worked.

Use Time Logs

It’s hard to realize how much time we waste when we have lots of it. But you can become more self-aware by tracking your time:

Try tracking some hours. Like magic, you’ll find yourself more cautious using your time.

You’ll probably find that you are spending more than you thought on useless tasks. So your next step is to…

Avoid the planning fallacy

Think of your project. How long do you think it takes to finish it? How long if you give your best? And in the worst case?

Are you assuming nothing will go wrong? That there will be no unexpected blocks? That you will have no bad days?

Ignore the planning fallacy, and you’ll end up with not enough time and lots of stress.

Do yourself a favor:

If it’s less than 9, stop it.

Not doing the wrong thing matters as much as doing what’s right.

#5 Review Habit

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

You need to reflect on your results to fix what’s wrong.

Mistakes happen all the time. But how are you going to solve them?

You do that by reflecting on your work and yourself.

Reflection is what brings clarity to what works and what doesn’t. It’s about adapting your strategy as you get new data. It’s a must-have if you don’t want to waste time on frustrating mistakes.

And the first step is to take control.

You can only solve mistakes under your control. You can’t find solutions until you take the blame for your mistakes.

Change your mindset by:

But the mindset isn’t enough. You need to implement a system to tackle mistakes.

In my case, I like to reflect on my week with weekly reviews. It takes under one hour and it drastically improves my productivity.

Here is a quick summary of what I do every Friday:

  1. Clear physical and digital inboxes. I organize my emails, files, and notes and clear everything I don’t need
  2. Review my week. I go over What I did, How I felt, and What went wrong
  3. Uncover insights for next week. I adapt how I work according to my results
  4. Plan my next week. I plan my work around my highest-leverage tasks

Use this review to evaluate your work habits and make sure you are using them effectively.

How Do You Implement A Good Habit?

Any habit is as good as its implementation. You will not see long-lasting results from using each habit once or twice.

It is all about nailing down each habit and sticking to them.

In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear goes over the 4-Laws to implement a new habit:

The 1st Law: Make It Obvious

The 2nd Law: Make It Attractive

The 3rd Law: Make It Easy

The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying

Use these 4 laws to nailed down your new work habits.

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