The word “overachiever” can have a negative connotation, making you recall memories of an aggressively eager classmate or coworker. But here’s the reality: overachievers get the job done, and usually faster than you thought possible. In a society where time is viewed as the most valuable commodity, it’s worth taking a closer look at how overachievers set themselves apart not only by what they accomplish but how they do it.
1. Sweat the small stuff
“I got this” might be a helpful mantra, but it doesn’t make the cut when it comes to actually making a plan. Now’s the time to get specific. Whether you’re given a project to complete or you set your sights on a personal goal, get the basic details in order before you move forward. Not sure where to start? Ask questions, take notes, and create a step-by-step timeline to outline your plan. Overachievers know what they want and identify the precise steps they need to get there.
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2. Go beyond 9 to 5
The boundaries of a typical work day don’t apply. Overachievers get more done in less time than everyone else by taking advantage of the 24 hours in each day to meet their needs and deadlines. Are you at your best and brightest before dawn? Set the alarm for 4 AM so you can check things off your list and clear your mind before the rest of the world has lined up for its morning coffee. Is your client traveling out of the country? Schedule a meeting via Skype once they land so you don’t have to put the rest of your progress on hold until they return. Consider working on a more flexible schedule to make the most of each day and get you one step closer to completing your goal.
3. Make organization a priority
“A place for everything and everything in its place.” Ben Franklin knew what he was talking about when it came to organization (in addition to, you know, discovering electricity). Efficiency is key to any overachiever, and it’s tough to push past everyone else and rise up if you’ve got clutter everywhere. Make it a point to keep your workspace clear or make sure your budget is up to date. Whether on paper or on your phone, arm yourself with a detailed to-do list and only add items that you actually intend to get done. Document meetings to map your progress and next steps. By staying organized, you give yourself a strong foundation to maximize your time and keep you on track.
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4. Keep your eye on the ball
There’s an innate confidence that overachievers have that they know they can and will get the job done. To them, the destination is the reward and they won’t let themselves get discouraged or easily distracted. However, getting close to accomplishing something that means so much to you can be overwhelming or make you question whether you’re making the right move. But don’t let yourself get thrown off course by an unexpected downturn or by wasting your time on some mind-numbing app. Take a break if you need, but ultimately trust in your plan and keep going, one step at a time.
5. Ask others for help
It would be impossible for a person to achieve so much so quickly without a little help along the way. And here’s where that all-important confidence comes back into play: overachievers are willing to admit their weaknesses and ask for the help they need to get to the next step. Put your pride aside and seek out the best guidance you can find. Surround yourself with people you can trust and ask for advice. If your business is growing, hire a team of employees you can delegate to and help lighten the load so you can stay focused. The clock is ticking and your time is precious.
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6. Create your own BOD
Similar to how a corporation establishes a board of directors, overachievers often have not one but several mentors to help set standards and offer suggestions and insight along the way. Think of anyone you admire or are inspired by and reach out to them. Don’t be shy – this is your own personal support system and it is crucial to your success. By establishing this network, you give yourself the opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and receive honest feedback or reassurance that you’re on the right path.
7. Get on your feet
Overachievers tend to fall on the fit side of the scale because they understand that taking the time to exercise actually gives them back more time thanks to having a clearer mind and increased energy. Richard Branson, founder of no fewer than 400 companies and one of the world’s foremost overachievers, has said of his morning exercise routine, “Getting up and at it early gives me time to get on top of things, and chart my day effectively.” It’s simple: sticking to a fitness regimen will help you stay on schedule and make your days more productive. Throw in the added benefits of lower stress levels and a healthier heart rate and this is a must for any overachiever’s toolkit.
8. Work hard, play hard
What differentiates overachievers from workaholics is that they have an end goal in sight. After all the hard work, it’s time to let off some serious steam. But relaxing on a beach or booking a spa day is not exactly in the cards for this crowd. Overachievers get the same rush by spending their free time doing the extraordinary, like completing an Ironman or skiing down a double-black diamond. So if you’re needing an extra kick of inspiration, start to plan now how you’ll celebrate when the job is done. Find a training partner or book the flight and use that as your incentive to see things through.