Advertising
Advertising

16 Things Successful People Do to Maximize Their Time

16 Things Successful People Do to Maximize Their Time

The truth is, 95 percent of the things we do in our lives can and should be done either by someone else or by automation tools. Successful people focus on the five percent of things only they can do: they optimize their time so that they spend most of it doing  the things they do better than anyone else in the world. They don’t try to do it all. They know this only leads to disaster.

Most importantly, they’ve defined success for themselves. They aren’t trying to measure up to some cultural or societal standards of success. They don’t care what other people think of them. They live their life on their own terms.

The following are a few key things successful people do to do less and live more.

1. They don’t waste decades of their life off-course.

Most people spend years, sometimes decades of their life on an undesired path. They’ve in-authentically, following cultural and social norms and eventually found themselves in a mid-life identity crisis. Although identity crisis is fundamental to identity achievement, the goal is to get this out of the way sooner rather than later—like, in your 20s and 30s rather than your 50s and 60s.

2. They correct their course quickly.

Airplanes are off course 90 percent of the time. Yet, they almost always arrive at their final destination on time by incessant course corrections throughout the flight. Because they correct themselves so quickly, getting back on course is easy. If they weren’t so intense about their course corrections, they’d be extremely late or never make it.

Likewise, successful people have an internally correcting system. The more narrow and aerodynamic they can get, the less time and energy they spend getting where they want to go.

Advertising

3. They remove non-essential garbage from their lives.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

 — Leonardo De Vinci

Successful people live minimally. They removed all the non-essential physical, mental, and relational baggage bogging them down. Their lives are built on fundamentals. They avoid excess. They say no to almost everything.

4. They skip non-essential steps most people take.

Most people climb ladders vertically. Successful people switch ladders laterally. Almost all of the United States Presidents spent less time in politics than the average Congressman. The best, and most popular Presidents, spent the least amount of time in politics. Ronald Reagan was an actor. Dwight Eisenhower laterally shifted from the military. Woodrow Wilson bounced over from academia.

Rather than spending decades climbing the tedious ladder with glass ceilings, they simply jumped laterally from a different, non-political ladder. They reached the top by skipping the unnecessary “dues-paying” steps.

5. They focus on results rather than hard work.

The majority of the population still lives under the outdated industrial model. They work 9–5 and are compensated for the amount of time they work. No punching the clock, no dollars earned. However, successful people focus on the few things that generate the most results. Everything else is either automated, outsourced, or removed. Rather than getting paid for time, they are compensated for the value they produce.

Advertising

“You could do most of what Richard and Steve do, perhaps better than they do it. Except for what they do for about five minutes a day. In those five minutes a day, they create billions of dollars’ worth of value. And most of us could not do what they do in those five minutes.”

 — Seth Godin

6. They use automation tools.

We all do certain 30–60 second tasks multiple times every day. Successful people automate these tasks. There are endless automation tools you could use to remove the doing from your life to create more space for living. One example is Zapier, which is an app that makes automations between multiple web services. Essentially, if something happens at one place, something else happens at another. If someone buys something from you on PayPal, they are automatically put in a customer file. If someone important emails you, it’s sent to a place where you’ll see it.

7. They outsource tasks.

After optimization and automation, the rest gets outsourced. Like automation tools, there are limitless outsourcing options. Fancy Hands is a team of over 3,000 virtual assistants who are available 24 hours a day. The service starts at $25 dollars per month. Fiverr is another outsourcing tool where you pay $5 to get various tasks done like editing your blog posts or transcribing your audios.

8. They create automated income streams.

Successful people have established their life on their own terms. They are not governed by the clock. They consciously choose how they spend every minute. That’s because they’ve created automated streams of income.

There are several approaches you can take to doing this. Some take longer than others. You could build a large real estate investment portfolio. This may take a few years. Or, you could create online courses using tools like Aweber or Infusionsoft. You can even automate the marketing using Facebook Ads.

Advertising

9. They set short timelines.

“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?”

­ — Peter Thiel

According to Parkinson’s Law, work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. If you have a lot of time, you’ll be inefficient. If you have a little time, you’ll be intensely productive. Short timelines facilitate flow, which is optimal human functioning.

10. Get 7+ hours of healthy sleep daily.

Healthy sleep is essential for increased productivity and optimizing your life. Successful people ensure they get good sleep. They keep their room around 68 degrees and avoid eating too close to bedtime. They go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Most wake up between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m.

11. They have a killer morning routine.

Successful people have a bomb morning routine. They practice prayer and meditation to orient themselves toward the positive and abundance in life. They exercise and get their blood flowing. They eat a healthy breakfast, focusing on proteins and good fats. They take cold showers. They listen to or read content that instructs and inspires them. They review their life vision to get perspective on their day. And they do the most undesired task first, knowing if they don’t, it won’t get done.

Most of the time, this routine is complete by 8 a.m. and they’ve already completed the most important things they will do that day. They’ve put themselves in a position to succeed at their highest level the rest of the day. To be fully present and not bogged down by the urgent and unimportant.

Advertising

12. They have a small to-do list each day.

Successful people do not have big to-do lists like most people. On most days, there is only 1–5 things that really need to get done. They usually have these things done before noon and have the rest of the day to attend to urgent and life stuff that naturally pops up.

13. They drop stuff that isn’t working.

Most people fail to understand what psychologists call the sunk cost fallacy. When people put resources into something, even if it’s a sinking ship, they stay in longer than they should. Sometimes to the death. Successful people, on the other hand, discern quickly when they are on a dead-end path. Even if they’ve put lots of resources into something, they see quitting as a win, not a loss. They move on quickly and don’t overthink the past.

14. They check their email and social media at a few specific times each day.

Most people wake up and immediately check their email and social media. They put themselves in a reactive mental state. Subconsciously, they’ve committed their day to other people’s agendas. Conversely, successful people check their email and social media at specific times each day. They don’t obsess over messages, page views, likes, or other statistics. At most, they check these things only a few times per day.

15. They completely unplug when they finish working.

When they are at work, they’re at work. When they’re home, they’re home. Successful people aren’t afraid to be unreachable. They have one or two key people who keep them in the know if needed. But when they finish their work, they are just as awesome and present with the ones they love. They make time for rejuvenating recreation. They aren’t workaholics.

16. They take mini-retirements often.

Most people take two weeks off per year. Successful people take multiple mini-retirements each year. At least quarterly, they take a one to two week hiatus. Often, they check out for an entire month. They aren’t afraid of taking long-periods of time off. Their lives are far more balanced than most people.

Conclusion

Successful people live their lives fundamentally different from the norm. Rather than being a mediocre generalist, they do a few things only they can do. The rest is automated and outsourced. They do less and live more.

Featured photo credit: vintage-elegance/splitshire via splitshire.com

More by this author

15 Things Insanely-Productive People Do Differently 10 Reasons Why C Students Are More Successful After Graduation 10 Things Successful People Do Differently Before They Leave Their Offices 16 Things Successful People Do to Maximize Their Time Top 10 Books To Equip You With Every Essential Business Skill

Trending in Productivity

1 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits 2 How Your Attitude Determines Your Success 3 How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most 4 How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? 5 Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

Advertising

But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

Advertising

The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

Advertising

I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

Advertising

More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

Read Next