6 Traits of Highly Productive People

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on October 19, 2022

Productivity has become a hot topic in recent years. With the shift to remote working, more businesses are looking at ways to make their workforce as productive as possible, even when they’re not in the office. And outside of the workplace, people are looking for ways to manage their ever-busier lives, without resorting to caffeine or missing out on a couple of hours of sleep each night. 

And with the new year around the corner, you likely are in the process of making a whole bunch of new promises to yourself about the things you’re going to achieve this year – on top of your already full plate. There’s never been a better time to get more productive!

Among the many personality types, there are clear trends that emerge around productivity. Some types find it almost impossible to focus while others steam ahead with their goals.

But regardless of personality type, there are some key traits that highly productive people have in common. Here are 6 characteristics to watch for and copy as you boost your own potential in 2023. 

1. They plan their time 

To be as productive as possible, planning is essential. The most productive people plan their time carefully, breaking up each month into weeks and days. Some people even plan per hour too.

Planning is instrumental to productivity because it gives those people a way of knowing what they need to be doing and when. Rather than scrambling around trying to figure out what to do next, the most productive people have a clear schedule that they stick to. That means they hunt down each task with a clear mind and a vision for what they need to achieve each day. You’ll often see this trait in types like ISTJs and ISFJs.

You don’t need to plan out every part of your day – you can leave room for spontaneity too!  But if you want to improve your productivity, planning is a really helpful habit to pick up. Try to start small by setting yourself three things to do each day for a week and see how it goes.

2. They set clear goals

Running parallel to the planning trait is another important characteristic of highly productive people – goal-setting.

The most productive people tend to be goal-setters. Why? They know what they want to achieve and that motivates them to be more productive in the process.

A great example of this is the ENTJ personality type, also known as the Commander. ENTJs are strategic thinkers. They set clear goals for themselves and then figure out the easiest, most efficient route to get there. With such a concrete vision, it’s easier for ENTJs to be productive because they’re driven by the desire to hit their goals.

When you know what goals you want to hit, you can be more intentional with your time. Try setting one big goal for this week and then organizing your week around that goal. Choose something meaningful and important to you to give you extra motivation.

3. They prioritize tasks

As well as having clear goals, the most productive people are also extremely good at prioritizing. On any given day, you will come up against multiple calls on your time. To be productive, you need to know which ones to prioritize and which to relegate to the bottom of your to-do list. 

That means separating out tasks into must-do, should-do and not urgent. If you know where your priorities are, you can maximize your productivity every day. This habit comes naturally to personality types like INTJs and ESTJs – but you can learn it too!

4. They collaborate with others

This trait might surprise you… One of the characteristics of highly productive people is their willingness to collaborate with others. To use your time as efficiently as possible, it’s important to be able to reach out for help from colleagues, friends, family and experts.

The ability to collaborate and delegate means that the most productive people don’t have to do everything alone. They work to their strengths and then hand over to the next person when the time is right.

Highly productive people tend to be good at bringing the best people on board. They know how to use the talent around them to their advantage to get more done. This is perhaps most clear in the ENFJ personality type, characterized by their passionate leadership style. ENFJs easily see the potential in other people and work hard to empower the people around them.

5. They watch out for productivity barriers

No matter how you structure your day, you’re likely to come up against productivity barriers at some point. Highly productive people know how to spot those barriers and avoid them.

Common productivity barriers can include people, environments, tech problems and more. Whether you’ve got an overly chatty co-worker, you can’t connect to the WIFI or someone is playing really loud music next door, there are many things that can impact your productivity.

The most productive people recognize these barriers and do everything they can to limit them. They have their ideal work setting and they make sure that they limit the factors that reduce their productivity.

At the same time, highly productive people know themselves well. They know how they work best and what they need to do to achieve their perfect productive mindset. That can look different for every person. Some productive people like to work in total silence, alone and at home. Some people thrive in a bustling, noisy environment like a busy office or coffee shop.

Productivity is hugely individual but every highly productive person knows what conditions they need to be at their best.

6. They don’t let procrastination take over

Procrastination is important to give your brain a chance to rest and reset, but it becomes a problem if it takes over your entire day.

No one can work constantly without a break. Your brain has to stop at some point. The trick that highly productive people possess is their ability to switch back to focus again. Productive people are able to let their mind wander and then get back to the task at hand without letting procrastination derail their plans. 

If you want to get better at kicking your procrastination habit, try setting a timer for your breaks. Give yourself 15 minutes to rest and reset and then get back to work as soon as the timer goes off.

How to become more productive 

While productivity is shaped by personality type, it can also be shaped by your environment. All these productivity traits are skills that you can learn and acquire over time.

Even if you’ve struggled to be productive in the past, you can still learn more productive habits. Whether you’re trying to learn a new skill, get better at your favorite hobby or get more done at work, learning how to be more productive can make a huge difference to your life.

Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at bethharris.com

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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