One of the worst feelings in the world is being incredibly busy but not making any progress. You're fighting the good fight, but your approach is wrecking your health or compromising your well-being. Projects seem to take forever. Progress comes too slow. Happiness is always a distant horizon never reached.
Most of us have experienced this at some point. We'll finish each day with a lot of to-do's crossed off our list, but without any big- picture progress. Yet all along, balance and increased progress were possible if we had the right habits in place.
Sometimes being effective and checking things off of a list isn't enough. Achievement can be hollow if it gets out of sync with who we are, what we really want to be doing and what we're actually capable of. We need to learn the difference between just getting things done and reaching high-performance productivity.
I study high performers, and I have learned they all have a very deliberate approach in planning their days, projects and tasks compared to underperformers. Like most productive people, high performers score well on statements such as, "I'm good at setting priorities and working on what's important," and, "I stay focused and avoid distractions and temptations."
When they compare themselves to their peers, high performers are more productive and yet also happier, less stressed and more rewarded over the long term.
The happiness finding is especially relevant since many people believe they can't possibly do more without compromising their well-being or sense of balance. But that's just not true. High performers have found a way to produce more but also eat healthier, exercise more and still feel a greater love for taking on new challenges than their peers do. And they don't just get more busywork done in the sense that they sloppily pull things together-high performers complete more activities and report being more excellence-driven than their peers.
None of this is because high performers are superhuman or over- caffeinated. Nor is it because of the feel-good ideals...