Success doesn’t just come to anyone. It has to be attained through hard work, dedication, and relentless drive. The most successful people in the world are often more than happy to share the methods to their madness, and it’s no coincidence that many of them practice the same methods on a daily basis. Staying disciplined and regimented is a large part of why certain people are able to transcend the masses, and rise to the level of success they’ve attained throughout their lives. The most successful people in the world:
1. Make a daily to-do list
Many people make a to-do list; that’s nothing new. However, the way in which successful people approach their to-do lists is much different than the way others do. While many people (myself included) make a to-do list that is relatively underwhelming, successful people tend to overload their to-do list, giving them too much to do. This doesn’t mean they actually finish everything on their list; it just means they always have something to do. The most successful people always have something productive to do, and make it so they are always improving upon their former self. CEO of Omada Health Sean Duffy actually utilizes a “running” to-do list which spans not just the following day, but lists goals he wants to tackle within the next couple of weeks.
2. Schedule their time
Benjamin Franklin was famous for not only creating a daily to-do list, but also for scheduling his time by the hour. Doing so helps in a variety of ways. First of all, it gives you an idea of how much time you’ll have to spend on specific activities or projects. Secondly, while scheduling your day, you’ll actively visualize yourself completing the tasks, and finishing them becomes much more likely. To-do lists can be incredibly intimidating, as you run the risk of thinking “there’s just not enough time in the day.” When you schedule your day out completely, you’ll realize you have all the time you need. Furthermore, you won’t waste time scrolling through your phone or watching TV if you’ve set deadlines for yourself.
3. Quantify their time
It may sound unbelievable, but Jeff Margolis, chairman and CEO of Welltok, claims he knows “exactly how many (hours) I have spent working, with family, exercising, or on community activities.”
Along with making a to-do list and scheduling their time, successful people add up time spent on various projects, analyze them, and manage their schedule accordingly. For example, if you gave yourself two hours to complete a task, but it actually took three, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, when a similar project comes along in the future, you’ll know better how to schedule your time. Conversely, if you schedule two hours of your day to do a task that only takes one, you’ll have an hour of time left over that isn’t being utilized to your advantage. Not only that, but successful people understand that if they check their phone 10 times a day “just for 5 minutes,” they’ve wasted almost an hour of their day.
4. Wake up earlier
Ben Franklin was also never short on words of wisdom, such as the famous proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Successful people wake up much earlier in the morning than most others. While some of us hit the snooze button at least twice every morning, most wealthy people wake up at least two or three hours before they need to get down to business. Doing so allows them to take advantage of the body’s natural energy cycle. The mind is most productive a couple hours after waking. This explains why many of us need that cup of coffee every morning to jolt ourselves awake, and why others seem to be ready and raring to go by 8:30 a.m. every day. We might see early birds as “morning people,” but the reason they’re up and moving so early is because they’ve been awake for more than fifteen minutes, and wiped the sleep from their eyes hours ago.
5. Prepare for their day before working
Successful people don’t just wake up early and stare at the wall until their body and mind is ready to work. Neha Sampat, CEO of Built.io, says she always gets one major task out of the way before 8 a.m., even on weekends. By waking up early (around 5 a.m.) on a daily basis, she’s ready to get moving by 7 a.m. at the latest. Early morning is also a good time to get other things done, such as exercise that you won’t want to do after a long day’s work, or reading up on news that you won’t have time for throughout the day. Most people (especially college-aged) use the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” as an excuse to stay up late partying with friends; successful people use it as an excuse to forgo sleeping in late in favor of getting things done.
6. Avoid getting in ruts
Rodney Williams, co-founder and CEO of LISNR, reports that he avoids habits that eventually lead to ruts. This advice might seem like it gibes with the previous sections discussing to-do lists and schedules, but since you’re in control of your own schedule, don’t be afraid to change it up. Think of high school: How boring was it to go through the same progression of classes day after day? It made everything so monotonous, and by the end of the day you were completely fried. Take control of your life! If you find yourself getting bored with your schedule, start going to the gym before work instead of after, or take a different route to work. Even the smallest changes can refresh your perspective, and make the rest of your day just a bit more exciting.
7. Pay attention to relationships
Novelist George A. Moore once said, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” Being successful isn’t all about money, fame, and fortune. It’s about what you can do for your loved ones after attaining those three things. When putting your daily schedule together, make sure you include time to spend with your family. And don’t schedule this in pencil; make sure you never cancel on a date with your daughter, and always find time to pick your son up from soccer practice. After all, your family is the reason you work so hard in the first place. Don’t lose sight of that while you’re busy checking business-related tasks off your list.
8. Communicate with colleagues
Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, believes it’s incredibly important to be transparent with your employees, colleagues, and bosses. You should never find yourself being “just a colleague,” but should work to forge a relationship that goes beyond the walls of your office building. Be a teammate and a friend, and treat your co-workers as family. Doing so will open doors of communication when working on difficult projects that require input from a variety of specialists, and will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and has a common goal. When your team succeeds, you can feel a sense of accomplishment knowing you helped them get there.
Jason van den Brand, co-founder and CEO of Lenda, finds time to exercise his body at least five times a week. By now it should go without saying that this time is usually before he gets to the office, around 6 a.m. on a daily basis. And he switches it up, too: Sometimes he’ll hit the gym, and other times he’ll take his bike out for an hour spin. Not only does exercising early in the morning start your day with an adrenaline rush, but it also starts your day with another task checked off your list. With one less thing to do before you even start your work day, your head will be clear to focus on other obligations.
Ernie Capobianco, CEO of Sq1, meditates on daily basis, sometimes twice a day. You might be thinking “I thought successful people didn’t spend any time sitting around.” This is a complete misunderstanding of what goes on in the mind when meditating. Sitting quietly and preparing for the day in the morning or reflecting on the day’s events in the evening helps you gain perspective and insight that you can’t possibly have when you’re engrossed in a project. Spending time meditating is the best way to come to realizations that will lead to breakthroughs in your work, especially if you’ve recently hit a roadblock. If you’re going to spend your time doing nothing, do so mindfully.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com