How can we define the essential things in our lives when everything in 2016 feels essential?

Staying ahead of the curve, leading, and excelling in our jobs means we all must increase efficiencies.

Here are the seven things that hyper-efficient people do differently.  


1. They Learn—Efficiently

They listen to audiobooks—but do it at double speed. I’ve discussed my obsession withaudiobooks here before. When you’re learning, you’re growing. When you’re growing, you’re bringing new opportunities to yourself and to those around you. A simple efficiency hack is to increase the speed of your audiobook to 1X or 2X. Or install iTalkFast—a sexy audio-utility app that allows the user to speed up audio content up to 2.5X.

2. They’re Mindful

Creating space in our lives is difficult. Time for meditation, yoga, or simply being aware of our breathing can all have a profound effect on our productivity. Deirdre Breakenridge, author of Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional, takes things a step further. She told me, “As much as possible, when I’m in meetings, I remove unnecessary technology. At times, this means no smartwatch, smartphone, or laptop in front of me.” She went on to share that, “When you listen to what people are saying, you eliminate the time-consuming guesswork that occurs after the meeting. Listening carefully allows you to move forward with clear direction, purpose, and high efficiency.”

3. They Exercise and Get Enough Sleep

By now, we all know that exercise and sufficient sleep are important. But for some, they feel unrealistic. Bill Arzt, co-founder of the hot startup FitReserve, offers a shortcut that’s helped him. He suggests you “replace networking with sweatworking. Combine your meetings with workouts.”

4. They Don’t Waste Time With Emotional Battles That Don’t Matter

Alex Baydin, founder and CEO of PerformLine, told me, “I have found it very helpful to mentally assign the emotional battles of running a startup to one of two buckets. Bucket A—the stuff that matters bucket. Bucket B—the doesn’t matter bucket. Every time I am faced with an issue, my first course of action is to decide Bucket A or B.” He confessed that, “The vast majority will fall into Bucket B. The few issues that truly matter I then deal with head-on.”

5. They Prioritize Their Life

Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, speaks about the hyper-efficient in his book. He says such people know what they want, and they put their goals first. After all, he adds, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

6. They Live Simply, by Saying No

Living simply means knowing what it means to be productive versus active. The hyper-efficient are sculptors of their own lives. They take away instead of add.

Time management is emotional—we feel guilt. Understand that you are the problem. You’re saying “yes” to too much.

You want to help people, but when you say yes to one thing that doesn’t matter, you’re saying yes to the nonessential things that come along with it. So, start saying no more often.

7. They Throw Away To-Do Lists and Automate Menial Tasks

Efficient people don’t just determine how urgent something is (referring to how soon or significant it is). They also determine how long something matters. Meaning: What can they do today that will have the greatest impact down the line?

Success is no longer related to volume. Success is determined by the significance the task has in your life. You can then investigate ways to automate those important yet time-consuming actions.

I recently heard Rory Vaden, author of Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time, share a profound idea. Rory said, “Automation is to your time as compound interest is to your money.”

So ask yourself, what can I do today that will positively change what I will be doing in two years?