For many years I have been cyber-stalking successful people. I am fascinated by how truly successful people manage their time and organize their days. People who are seemingly always producing, shipping and building businesses particularly interest me.
These people are humans just like you and me. I know the word “superhuman” is often bandied around when talking about people like this, but they are still flesh and blood, However, these people have a mindset about time management that takes them beyond average. It takes them towards excellence and that is where the difference between being average and being super-successful is.
It’s nothing to do with genes or talents. It is a pure mindset and that means you can acquire the same mindset and, while not necessarily become super-successful, you may just create something very special.
Here are seven ways super successful people manage their daily lives that we can all adopt to move our lives further forward:
1. Daily routines
This one stands out above everything else. Almost every successful person I have ‘cyber-stalked’ have some form of morning and evening routine.
From Tim Cook to Warren Buffett, they all begin the day, in the same way, every day. Tim Cook wakes up at 3:45 am and goes off to the gym, Warren Buffett drives the five minutes to work every morning and decides which MacDonald’s breakfast to buy based on the overnight stock prices (I love that one). Tony Robbins goes through an elaborate set of exercises to “prime” himself for the day ahead. Satya Nadella goes for a morning run. The list goes on.
The reason a daily routine works is it grounds you for the day. It allows you time to focus and have some solitude before you hit the craziness of the day. It prepares you for the day ahead and focuses in on what you want to accomplish that day and it allows you a few moments of calm.
If you wake up allowing yourself just enough time to shower, brush your teeth and scoff down your breakfast before rushing out the door to catch your bus, you are starting the day in a state of stress and any benefit that extra thirty minutes of sleep gave you is wiped out by the stress you now feel.
2. A single-minded focus on the important
A trait all successful people have is they have developed the ability to quickly decide whether something is important or not. They can immediately decide what task needs performing to move a project forward.
Less successful people get caught up in trivialities. Things like finding someone to blame for a mistake, stressing about the number of emails they have to deal with and getting involved in office politics. These are trivialities the super-successful never get involved in.
If you want to achieve success just do not go there. Understand what is important and what is not and focus on the important. Ask yourself what work would have the biggest positive impact on your day, life and work? Do that.
3. Super Successful People know exactly where they are going
Knowing your destination is not only a good idea, it is also vital if you ever want to achieve success at anything. This is not just some vague idea, such “I want to be a CEO one day” this is super clear clarity on the lines “I will be CEO of SpaceX by 2045”. Dana White, the UFC President, in interviews talks about how certain he was as a teenager that he would be in the fight business.
Nothing else mattered to him. It was a complete total focus.
When you have this kind of clarity the way you organise your day changes. Instead of allowing daily trivialities take up a disproportionate amount of your time, you view every decision you make through the prism of how will this help me become CEO of SpaceX by 2045? Or how will this get me in the fight business?
This clarity provides you with focus, energy and a complete determination to achieve your goal.
4. They collect their ideas in a notebook
People like Sir Richard Branson and Cheryl Sandberg famously carry a little notebook with them everywhere they go. But this is not unique to Sir Richard Branson and Cheryl Sandberg.
David Allen carries his note-taker wallet everywhere he goes, I’ve seen Tony Robbins carrying around a Moleskine notebook with him when he’s not on stage.
Throughout the day you are going to have incredible ideas. Most people never write these down and they are soon forgotten. It only takes one idea to turn you into the next Elon Musk. If you write it down there’s a chance you will develop the idea into something special. If you don’t the chances are it will disappear forever.
Get into the habit of collecting all your ideas into a notebook or your phone. What you write down could become the seeds of your future success. Can you really afford not to?
5. Long periods of intense focus time
Robin Sharma, Tony Robbins and Amir Salihefendic (of Doist) schedule long periods of focused time and we are not talking about a few hours or days. We are talking about taking a whole month or two for intense single project focus.
These people come off the grid, don’t allow any interruptions and get down to some single-minded, intense focused work on a single project. That could be a book, a new course or improvement to an existing product or it could be a completely new project. The length of time, intensity and total focus results in some incredibly amazing products that sell in their millions.
Most of us don’t spend half a day on a project without allowing something else interrupt us and take us off into directions that will not help us to achieve any kind of success.
Of course, this can be difficult if you work for a company and have a boss, but the reality is if you are really serious about achieving success you are going to have to find the time to focus on your ideas or spend your working life taking instructions from another person.
You are going to have to make the decision about whether you want to be a follower your whole life or become a leader. Leaders control their time, followers allow other people to control their time. It’s your choice.
6. They are in complete control of their calendars
This one is one of the key reasons Warren Buffett carries a little diary with him everywhere. His calendar is in that little diary and no one but no one other than himself has access to it. Most of us willingly allow our coworkers to schedule meetings and appointments on our calendars, successful people never do that.
If you want a successful person to attend your meeting you have to ask them and the really successful would never consider attending a meeting unless an agenda is provided and in Tony Robbins’s case you have a clearly defined desired outcome.
Make it your objective today to take complete control of your calendar and never allow anyone else schedule appointments for you. Be in control of your time. It’s your most valuable asset. Don’t allow anyone else tell you how you will spend it.
7. They schedule self-development and reading time every day
Continuous self-development and reading is a key part of a successful person’s success. Stagnating skills and a lack of reading is a sure fire way to not succeed.
Warren Buffett spends up to eighty per cent of his working day reading and learning and Bill Gates’ annual reading list is famed for its incredible knowledge. Robin Sharma seemingly reads a book a day and posts recommendations on his social media feeds. Tony Robbins attributes his understanding of the human mind from the books he read.
Reading and continuous learning is a key part to any successful person’s arsenal and is something anyone can do. If you don’t like reading, then buy the audiobooks.
Start with Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich and Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People and you will have started with two of the most powerful self-help books out there.
You can watch YouTube videos of interviews with people like Tim Cook, Satya Nadella and Oprah Winfrey. From just those resources you will learn a tremendous amount.
We live in a world that is changing faster than at any time in history. The only way to stay relevant in this world is to be continuously developing your skills and learning new skills.
Discovering new insights through reading quality books and being open to learning from the successful people of our time. To be able to do that, you need to schedule time each day for reading and self-development. There has never been a better time to be successful.
The problem today is not resources, the problem today is the number of resources available to us. If you want to achieve success in whatever way you define success, then you need to take control of your time, focus on the important, reject trivialities, schedule time for self-development and protect your most valuable asset—time—with everything you have.
Featured photo credit: Sean Paul Kinnear via unsplash.com