9 things productive people never, ever do

Do you struggle with procrastination? 

That makes two of us. 

If you want to know the top things productive people never, ever do, I’ve got you covered. 

Here we go: if you want to be productive, don’t do these things! Ever!

1) Indulging in regrets

We all have regrets. 

Some are big, some are small. 

But they all have one thing in common:

They’re about the past, and usually about something we can’t change. 

There’s almost nothing that can get in the way of productivity and success as much as regrets. 

This includes personal and career regrets or any other kind which are crowding your head and heart. 

When you focus on “could have” and “should have” you forget that the present moment is all you have to work with right now. 

Don’t let your energy and attention get sapped by the past. Leave regrets in the past as much as possible. 

2) Playing the victim 

We all get victimized at times, including by life itself. 

Sometimes you can hit back or respond to being victimized, sometimes you’re helpless. 

Either way, if you want to know the top things productive people never, ever do, they never play the victim. 

Even if they have been victimized or mistreated, they do not use that as an identity. 

They don’t inhabit the role of a victim in order to try to influence others, get sympathy or achieve their goals. 

If you play the victim, you get accustomed to the role. 

Before you know it, you’re more focused on provoking sympathy or getting attention than on actually hitting your goals and working things out for yourself. 

Ditch the victim role. 

3) Scrapping your schedule

Some days you wake up tired, hungover or depressed and you just want to say “the hell with it” about your plans for the day. 

Maybe you don’t even really have any “plans” for the day, especially if it’s a weekend or a holiday. 

This is one of those things productive people never, ever do. 

If it’s a holiday, they still have weight training to do or an issue on their car to check out, or shopping to do. 

Make a schedule and hold yourself accountable when you miss parts of it. 

Consider your schedule binding. 

Barring an emergency, you put a checkmark next to every item or else you pay a price in losing a privilege or purchase you are hoping for. 

4) Acting on impulse

Another of the key things productive people never, ever do is act on impulse. 


You’re on the way home to catch up on extra work and talk to a potential client. This opportunity seems really promising, but the guy told you his time is limited and he needs to get terms settled over the phone in the next few hours. 

But on the way home, you stop in for a coffee and meet an incredibly attractive barista named Samara who is batting her eyes at you non-stop and trailing her hand over your cup like it’s a fine Persian rug. 

You ask for her number and she laughs:

“Sure, let’s meet up. What about in half an hour? I’m off work and I know a cool bar.”

Now if you’re a productive guy, you put your schedule and priorities ahead of a beautiful girl you just met. 

If you’re impulsive, you say to heck with that other great opportunity coming your way and you drink your coffee until Samara is ready. 

No offense, Samara, but this is just going to have to wait until that important call is resolved. 

5) Saying yes to be nice

If you say yes to everyone you have no time left to get what you need done completed. 

Emergencies and situations do come up, obviously. 

But as much as possible, you need to become accustomed to saying: 


“Sorry, I can’t right now.”

And so forth…

As Robert Half puts it

“Highly productive people give their full attention to a single task instead of stretching themselves across various projects.”

For example, you’re in the finishing touches of building your website as a realtor but you have at least an hour more of work to do. 

Then your friend calls and asks if you can come over to watch her kids while she and her husband go out to dinner. 

They’ve done so much for you and you want very badly to say yes. But right now it’s just not going to work. 

“No, I’d love to but I can’t,” is the correct answer here. 

6) Overestimating their brain box 

Another of the key things productive people never, ever do is overestimate their ability to remember things off the cuff or deal with life spontaneously. 

If you want to succeed and get things done, you need to follow a system.

I’ve met many gamblers in casinos who swear they have a “system” and they always leave the casino up, but somehow you see them in there a week later wearing the same clothes and looking depressed. 

What I’m talking about is a system that works. 

For example:

  • Be clear on your goal
  • Write down steps to achieve your goal
  • Shape your schedule around that goal
  • Hold yourself accountable to your schedule
  • Write down key things to remember

Instead of expecting yourself to always know what to do in each situation that comes up, write them down. 

Don’t rely on yourself to remember the name of that sales associate who you were speaking to a few days ago: write it down. 

Don’t rely on your memory to keep in mind the market changes in technology going on right now in Switzerland and how they affect your business! 

Bookmark the tab and put a Google alert on the key terms related to what’s important to you. 

7) Going with the flow

You hear a lot from some inspirational speakers about “going with the flow” and “getting into flow.”

This is actually bad advice.

If you want to be productive, you need to start deciding where to go and what to do, not just seeing what comes up and adjusting accordingly. 

As Shawn Lim observes:

“…Highly productive people are living with intention. 

They will never allow themselves to go through their days without having a clear priority or objective.”

An example: 

Two women are starting their work day. 

One has a goal of building her online presence in her cosmetics business and getting more for her ad dollars in order to start a new second business in accessories. 

The other has a goal of enjoying her day and going with the flow. She runs the loan department of a bank but isn’t too worried about reviewing the loan products she offers or doing a deep dive into rates for this week. She’s confident it’ll work out. 

The next day, both pursue a similar approach. And so on. 

In six months we take a look at both:

Woman one is already starting her new business with extra money on the side and has learned extra skills in online advertising which are boosting the accessories launch. 

Woman two is being outclassed by competition and having increasingly dissatisfied customers who no longer associate her bank with quality loan products and find the service lackluster. 

This leads directly into the next point…

8) Getting addicted to apathy

Apathy is addictive. 

When you shrug and say “meh,” or “it’s too hard,” or “maybe tomorrow,” it becomes ten times easier to shrug again the next day…And the next…

Apathy is addictive and it’s pathetic. 

If that sounds judgmental, good. It is. 

Depression, anger, placidity and calm are all fine traits. But apathy is truly astounding. 

This is your one chance to live and struggle and succeed and fail. 

You may transcend that earthly struggle in spiritual ways or feel you’re above it, but having genuine apathy about what you do day to day is a form of nihilism. 

If you have no curiosity or interest in what’s going on around you, you need serious help.

And in the end only you can start the engine to generate escape velocity away from apathy. 

It starts with saying: “I do care,” and “I will put my energy towards a goal.”

9) Staying switched on all the time

All work and no play leads to burnout. 

Highly productive folks are some of the best partiers and relaxers of all time. 

When they’re off work, they’re off. For real. 

They may even switch off their cellphones or put an autoresponse on their emails for the weekend along with an emergency contact number. 

If you stay switched on all the time you’re going to get burned out, stressed and overburdened. 

Productivity isn’t just about putting in the time or hard work.

It’s about working smart and being efficient. 

To do that, you need time to rest and relax, including plenty of sleep and healthy food!

Getting in gear

Getting in gear doesn’t require perfection. 

You’re going to occasionally procrastinate, make mistakes or feel unwell. 

But if you want to be productive, pay as much attention as you can to the rules above. 

Avoid the excuses, time-wasting and victim-mentality traps that productive people always stay away from. 

Once you become more productive you’ll be surprised how you ever wasted so much of your time and potential. 

We all have way more in the tank than we think we do! 

Let’s use it!

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