Have you ever wondered what sets the high achievers of this world apart from the rest of us? How do they manage to accomplish more in a day than many of us manage in a week? To find some answers, we decided to look at the habits of some of the world’s most successful people. Here are seven productivity tips from those at the top of their game.
1. Do your most important work first
Highly productive people instinctively understand that not all work is equal. Some work requires intense concentration while other tasks simply aren’t as demanding. Many of the world’s most successful people start their day with the most complex tasks and reserve the less important ones for later on. Jeff Bezos, for example, schedules his most important meetings for the morning. “I like to do my high IQ meetings before lunch,” he said. Anyone looking to increase their productivity would be well advised to schedule their most demanding tasks early in the day.
2. Avoid ‘decision fatigue’
As explained by The New York Times, “decision fatigue” is the phenomenon whereby your ability to make decisions decreases over time. In other words, when you make a series of decisions, you become mentally depleted and the quality of your decisions starts to decline. Highly successful people manage to avoid falling into this trap by reducing the number of decisions they need to make every day.
For example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg likes to wear similar clothes every day, while Warren Buffett eats and drinks similar things on a daily basis. These habits help limit the number of decisions that they need to make during the day, letting them reserve their brainpower for their most important decisions.
3. Guard your time ruthlessly
Highly successful people excel at guarding their time. Case in point? Elon Musk. When the Tesla CEO wanted to ramp up production of the Tesla Model 3, he emailed his employees a list of his own productivity tips. His tips included:
• Communicating directly, instead of via chain of command
• Canceling big meetings
• Using plain language instead of jargon
• Walking out of meetings if you aren’t contributing
These down-and-dirty time management tips are surprisingly common among the world’s most successful people. Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban, and Ray Dalio have all publicly stated that they avoid long or excessive meetings whenever possible.
4. Aim for inbox zero
Many extremely successful people work hard to achieve “inbox zero” – a completely clear email inbox with no distracting emails to sap their attention. For instance, Bill Gates only responds to emails during the evenings or at weekends so that they don’t get in the way of his work during the day. This prevents daytime distractions and helps him stay productive. If “inbox zero” remains stubbornly elusive, there are workarounds. You can use a browser extension to help manage emails and minimize the number of notifications you receive.
5. Schedule your time efficiently
Almost every entrepreneur, CEO, and billionaire has a way of scheduling their time efficiently. According to Entrepreneur contributor Hayden Field, Elon Musk uses a five-minute blocking system that divides his day into 5-minute chunks of time. Field-tested this system for a day and found it helpful for avoiding wasting time on short tasks such as checking emails. Efficient scheduling can boost your productivity and achieve more in a limited amount of time.
6. Make time for learning
We don’t all have the luxury of being able to take a so-called “Think Week” like Bill Gates, where he gets to do nothing except “solidly try to think about the future” for seven straight days. But almost every productive person takes some time out of their schedule for learning. According to Inc.com, most CEOs read four or five books per month in addition to their daily work.
If that sounds like a lot, then consider this: according to speed-reading coach, Jim Kwik, reading one book per week isn’t as difficult as it seems. Assuming you read at an average speed of 200 words per minute, an average length book will take you just 320 minutes to read from cover to cover, or around 45 minutes every day. Don’t have time? Kwik suggests multitasking and reading while exercising or while on a break.
7. Experiment with productivity tools
Highly successful people actively experiment with tools that help them accomplish more in less time. Productivity tools such as Trello, Dropbox, and BetterCloud are widely known, and there are plenty of lesser-known services that are on the rise. Successful people always keep their ears to the ground and excel at finding ways to eliminate or automate monotonous tasks both for themselves and their employees. For example, Insight CEO Mike Guggemos uses “Robin”, a room scheduling and analytics tool that helps coordinate people, spaces, and things, to eliminate or automate monotonous tasks. Highly successful people are constantly on the lookout for tools and services that can help reduce some of their workloads.
You don’t need to be building electric cars or space rockets like Elon Musk to apply these productivity tips to your own life. Copying some of the daily habits of highly productive people can help you become more efficient, effective, and happier. Keep an open mind, experiment with new tools, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much more you can accomplish.
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