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14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day
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Guest Writer
Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmart
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Having close access to ultra-successful people can yield some pretty incredible information about who they really are, what makes them tick, and, most importantly, what makes them so successful and productive.

“Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” –Vaibhav Shah

Kevin Kruse is one such person. He recently interviewed over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs. One of his most revealing sources of information came from their answers to a simple open-ended question:

“What is your number one secret to productivity?”

In analyzing their responses, Kruse coded the answers to yield some fascinating suggestions. What follows are some of my favorites from Kevin’s findings.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They focus on minutes, not hours

They focus on minutes, not hours

Most people default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar; highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kevin, “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They focus on only one thing

They focus on only one thing
Image credit: Storyblocks

Ultra-productive people know what their “Most Important Task” is and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work? That’s what you should dedicate your mornings to every day.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They don’t use to-do lists

They don’t use to-do lists
Image credit: Shutterstock

Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41 percent of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them. Highly productive people put everything on their  calendar and then work and live by that calendar.

Related: 11 Ways to Beat Procrastination

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They beat procrastination with time travel

They beat procrastination with time travel
Image credit: Storyblocks

Your future self can’t be trusted. That’s because we are time inconsistent. We buy veggies today because we think we’ll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green rotting mush in the future. Successful people figure out what they can do now to make certain their future selves will do the right thing. Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution today to defeat your future self.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They make it home for dinner

They make it home for dinner
Image credit: Shutterstock

Kevin first learned this one from Intel’s Andy Grove, who said, “There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value. There is no right answer, but for many, these other values include family time, exercise, and giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put them on their calendar), and then they stick to that schedule.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They use a notebook

They use a notebook
Image credit: Shutterstock

 Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down... That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!” Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They process e-mails only a few times a day

They process e-mails only a few times a day
Image credit: Shutterstock

Ultra-productive people don’t “check” their e-mail throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their e-mails quickly and efficiently. For some, that’s only once a day; for others, it’s morning, noon, and night.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They avoid meetings at all costs

They avoid meetings at all costs
Image credit: Shutterstock

When Kevin asked Mark Cuban to give his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, “Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander around their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can and hold fewer of them yourself. If you do run a meeting, keep it short and to the point.

Related: 9 Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They say “no” to almost everything

They say “no” to almost everything
Image credit: Storyblocks

Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” And James Altucher colorfully gave Kevin this tip: “If something is not a ‘Hell Yeah!’ then it’s a no.” Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don’t give them away easily.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They follow the 80/20 rule

They follow the 80/20 rule
Image credit: Storyblocks

Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases, 80 percent of results come from only 20 percent of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results. Focus on those and ignore the rest.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They delegate almost everything

They delegate almost everything
Image credit: storyblocks

Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the I out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don’t have control issues, and they are not micro-managers. In many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They touch things only once

They touch things only once
Image credit: Storyblocks

How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail -- a bill perhaps -- and then put it down, only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an e-mail and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes -- whatever it is -- they deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress, since it won’t be in the back of their minds, and it is more efficient, since they won’t have to re-read or re-evaluate the item again in the future.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

They practice a consistent morning routine

They practice a consistent morning routine
Image credit: Shutterstock

Kevin’s single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with him. While he heard about a wide variety of habits, most nurtured their bodies in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise, and they nurtured their minds with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, or journaling.

 

14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

Energy is everything

Energy is everything
Image credit: Shutterstock

You can’t make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy to increase your attention, focus, and productivity. Highly successful people don’t skip meals, sleep, or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and breaks as opportunities to recharge in order to get even more done.

Related: The 8 Secrets of Great Communicators

Bringing It All Together

You might not be an entrepreneur, an Olympian, or a billionaire (or even want to be), but their secrets just might help you to get more done in less time and assist you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.

A version of this article appeared on TalentSmart.

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  • 14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day
  • 1. They focus on minutes, not hours
  • 2. They focus on only one thing
  • 3. They don’t use to-do lists
  • 4. They beat procrastination with time travel
  • 5. They make it home for dinner
  • 6. They use a notebook
  • 7. They process e-mails only a few times a day
  • 8. They avoid meetings at all costs
  • 9. They say “no” to almost everything
  • 10. They follow the 80/20 rule
  • 11. They delegate almost everything
  • 12. They touch things only once
  • 13. They practice a consistent morning routine
  • 14. Energy is everything
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