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7 Habits of Top Performers and World-Class Learners

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7 Habits of Top Performers and World-Class Learners

What is it that makes icons like Michael Jordan or Tony Robbins stand out from the world?

What is the difference between world-class performers and average people? It’s their habits.

Each top performer in their industry has lofty goals they want to achieve, but they focus on the process on how to get there.

From their productive morning habits of training each morning, their evening habits of picking up a valuable book to gain a competitive edge, it’s the little habits that have accumulated to make these individuals who they are.

“How you do anything is how you do everything.” -Derek Sivers

Here are 7 habits that top performers and world-class learners have to achieve more success and effectiveness.

1. Set Specific Goals

Have you ever had your eyes set on buying a specific car, let’s say a Red Volkswagen, and for the next week that’s all you saw being driven on the streets? Or maybe you recently decided to learn a new language (Spanish), and you could immediately recognize it the moment you heard it on the radio, movies, or on the streets?

It’s the same thing with goals.

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As Tony Robbins often states, “clarity is power.” If we know exactly where we’re going and what the outcome will be, our brains will figure out how to get there. And the more specific we can get, the higher chance you’ll have in getting what you want.

For example, an example of an unspecific goal would be: I want to learn a new language.

A specific goal would be: I want to learn how to speak Spanish, and hold up a 30-minute conversation with a native speaker in 90 days.

See the difference? The specific goal pinpoints exactly what you want, how you’ll measure success, and the timeline you’ll have to reach it.

2. Plan of action

A goal means nothing if we don’t have a plan of action to get there. It’s like having a final destination of where we want to go on the map, but not knowing where we are on the map nor how to navigate to our destination.

The good news is, we can start to build an action plan around the specific goal we have set.

If your goal is to have a 30-minute conversation with a native speaker in 90 days, then you first need to assess where you are.

In this example, let’s say you have zero knowledge. Your goal could be to memorize 30 of the most common words a day, and by 90 days you’ll have memorized 2,700 words, which will allow you to understand 60% of the spoken language.

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3. Schedule it

Time is the most valuable commodity we take for granted, yet we all have time constraints.

Not enough time to go to the gym. Not enough time to learn a language. The list goes on…

“What Doesn’t Get Scheduled, Doesn’t Get Done.”

Top performers can always get more done than the average person, because they have everything scheduled in their calendars.

Despite running a multi-billion dollar empire, Warren Buffett still manages to schedule time to read over 500+ pages everyday. This is anonymously the habits of successful people and top performers across all industries.

“I just sit in my office and read all day.” — Warren Buffett

Take this time to schedule your action task somewhere in your calendar. The more frequent you can schedule it, the better.
If you want to memorize 30 words a day, then you can schedule at time from 7pm-7:30pm after work each day to get it done.

Scheduling opens up time slots we never knew we had, and it allows us to get more done than we think we can.

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4. Have a coach

According to Coaches.com, coaches:

  • Create a safe environment in which you see yourself more clearly;
  • Identify gaps between where you are now and where you need or want to be
  • Ask for more intentional thought, action and behavior changes than you thought you could accomplish
  • Guide the building of the structure, accountability, and support necessary to ensure sustained commitment

This applies to every industry out there from: sports, dating, business, language learning, etc.

World-class learners not only have one coach, but they often have several. Top performers understand that even the little things can accumulate, and they’re looking for the slightest bit of advantage they can find. By bringing the best qualified experts and coaches to help them improve their jump shot for basketball, their marketing for business, or their accents for language learning, they can reach goals in life faster.

5. Embrace failure

Anyone who is playing at the top of their level had to crawl and sweat to get to where they are.

It’s often our failures that make up who we are, and it’s our failures teaching us the best lessons in life.

Lessons lead to not only faster progress, but a spark of innovation. Silicon Valley is an example.

Having built a culture that celebrates failure and even encourages it, budding entrepreneurs are not afraid to dream big and go all in on their projects, which is what made Silicon Valley one of the most innovative cities in the world.

What is something you’ve failed at recently that you should embrace?

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6. Know how to listen

When Michelle Obama is having a conversation with someone, it’s said that she’s talking only 20% of the time, while listening 80% of the time.

You would imagine that the First Lady of the United States would want to have more to say than that, but listening 80% of the time is how she has gotten to where she is.

Successful people know that there’s a lesson to be learned with every interaction and conversation. They’re sponges for new knowledge that they can apply in their lives, and understand that they’re not learning a thing while they’re speaking.

Focus on speaking 20% of the time, and you’ll be surprised by not only the knowledge you learn from the other person, but the connection they’ll feel with you after the conversation.

7. Know your best learning style

In Peter Drucker’s book Managing One Self, he states that the most important skill you can learn is self-awareness.

This means:

  • Understanding how you best learn: audio, visual, and kinesthetic
  • How you best work: alone, with others, as a subordinate, or as part of a team.
  • Your best learning environment: at home, classroom, lecture halls, small groups.

Being self-aware with your strengths and weaknesses can not only save you years of wasting time, but it can allow you to focus on improving your strengths even further to achieve your end goal.

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on September 9, 2021

10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

1. The One Thing Planner

The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

Get the planner here!

2. The Full Life Planner

The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

Get the planner here!

3. The Freedom Journal

Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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From their site:

“The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

Get the planner here!

4. Full Focus Planner

Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

From the site:

“Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

Get the planner here!

5. Passion Planner

They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

From the site:

“An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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Get the planner here!

6. Desire Map Planners

If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

Get the planner here!

7. Franklin Covey Planners

The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

From the site:

“Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

Get the planner here!

8. Productivity Planner

From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

From the site:

“Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

Get the planner here!

9. Self Journal

Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

Get the planner here!

10. Google Calendar

You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

Get the planner here!

Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

Block #1: Desire

Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

Block #2: Strategy

Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

“What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

Block #3: Focus

With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

Block #4: Rhythm

The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

The Bottom Line

Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

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Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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