Want to Be Successful? Quit Slacking Off.

Stop screwing around and calling it work. Yeah, I'm talking to you.

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By Steve Tobak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's sort of interesting how much time everyone spends reading and writing about the habits of really successful people when I can tell you the one thing that sets them apart in one little phrase: They're not slackers.

And the sad truth, the enormous elephant in the room that nobody wants to see, is that the overwhelming majority of you are never going to get there because you spend way too much of your time slacking off.

I know you don't want to hear this, but if I don't tell you, who will? Let's just look at the facts, OK?

Elon Musk runs two companies, Tesla and SpaceX. Those are two full-time jobs. The guy barely has time to sleep. I hear he gets six hours a day on average.

Steve Jobs also ran two companies, at least for a time. It's pretty well documented that, aside from his family, his work was his great passion and what he spent the vast majority of his time doing.

Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Cook, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer -- those are just a handful of entrepreneurs and executives who are famous workaholics. The truth is, every successful person I've ever known -- and I've known plenty -- had to work ridiculously hard to get there.

Related: Do You Believe in Magic? Don't.

I may not be famous, but to those who know me, I'm a famous workaholic. I love my work and I love to work. I'm currently writing my first book in addition to my regular job. We're talking six months working seven days a week. I can't keep that up forever but I do it when I have to without a second thought, as I've done my entire career.

Now let's talk about you. If you add up all the time you spend reading books, blogs, and articles; watching videos, podcasts, webinars, and seminars, and posting, tweeting, messaging, and connecting, how many hours a day on average do you think it comes to?

This is not a rhetorical question. I actually want you to take a minute, think about it and take a stab. I would guess the average among this audience would be measured in hours. Not minutes, hours. That's hours out of every day. And that can make the difference between being successful and not.

Funny thing is, a lot of what people say they're doing online is learning to be more effective and productive. You've got to marvel at the irony.

Related: Why Procrastination Is Not Your Problem

If I wasted all that time on all that stuff I wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much in my career, I would never have ended up as successful as I have, and my life wouldn't have been so fulfilling. And I'm sure the same is true of every highly accomplished executive and entrepreneur.

The reason is simple. If you want to do great work and have a great life, those two goals will occupy more or less all your time. Everyone talks about being successful and happy these days. Well, those are the results of doing great work and living a great life. They're not the result of screwing around and calling it work.

Look, of course we all need hobbies. We all need downtime. We all need to have fun. And don't get me wrong, I've been an avid reader all my life -- just not business or self-help books. I mostly read literature, novels, and sci-fi. I also cook, drink wine, watch movies, run, shoot hoops, cut down trees, and grow fruit. That's my downtime.

The thing is, most of the time you spend online isn't really downtime. It doesn't relax you. It's not healthy. If anything it revs you up and makes you anxious. It's mostly distraction, instant gratification and a poor excuse for not working. And you know what that's called? Slacking off. Once in a while is cool. Hours a day is not.

This is not rocket science, folks, just simple cause and effect. It takes a lot of time and hard work over the long haul to be successful. It just does. If you want to be successful, you've got to quit slacking off all the time. Simple as that.

Related: The Fine Art of Being a Great Boss

Steve Tobak

Author of Real Leaders Don't Follow

Steve Tobak is a management consultant, columnist, former senior executive, and author of Real Leaders Don’t Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur (Entrepreneur Press, October 2015). Tobak runs Silicon Valley-based Invisor Consulting and blogs at stevetobak.com, where you can contact him and learn more.

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