The Seven Signs of a Productive Person

If you've ever interviewed someone for a job, you probably found yourself wondering if the candidate is genuinely productive.  You might even ask yourself:

  • Does she clear out her email regularly?
  • Does he maintain a neat workspace?
  • Do coworkers rely on her to "get the job done"?

I recently interviewed a number of highly qualified applicants and then checked references.  In each call, I wanted to get a sense of two critical factors:  fit and competency.  In other words, would they mesh with the cultural atmosphere of our workplace?  And, just as importantly, can they get the job done?  While I always factor in like-ability (are they likable?), it always seems to come back to both fit and competency.  

In my work at school, character and values play an important role as well.  These additional qualities will vary depending on your industry, etc.

In all of the interviews (and after years of hiring quality folks), I've found the following as signs of productive people:

  1. They write things down.  In meetings.  During the day.  You get the point.
  2. They come prepared.  They are rarely late and have the tools they need.
  3. They do what they say.  You never have to wonder if they will do what they said they would.
  4. They follow up after meetings.  You get their personal notes and emails as tokens of their follow up.  (I wrote about the value of personal notes here.)
  5. They maintain a neat workspace.  Not perfectly neat but tidy and professional.  
  6. They prepare better than the next guy.  They want to be ready for the workday and for the events that matter most.  They take five minutes to get ready, etc.
  7. They maintain an achiever mindset.  They enjoy accomplishing things- big and small.  

While these are just seven signs that I can think of, there are probably more.  Note that I didn't list any ephemeral qualities like passion, humility, character or even vision. Each of these is definitely important but the seven habits (or signs) are all doable and can be practiced by anyone and everyone.  None is dependent on an IQ of 130 or higher.  Not one requires a lot of money.  No new iPhone model is necessary for any of the signs listed.  (that's a relief since my contract isn't up!)

Look around you at work, in your church, and in your neighborhood.  Who is the productive one who is always on the move and getting things done?  Chances are, they are probably practicing more than a few of the signs mentioned above.

Question: which of the seven signs do you practice regularly?  Which can you improve on?

Photo courtesy of fdp.