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16 Things Successful People Do to Maximize Their Time

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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