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Last Updated on October 28, 2018

7 Secrets on How Super Successful People Manage Their Time

7 Secrets on How Super Successful People Manage Their Time

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.

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Daily routines make you more energetic and productive throughout the day, here’s how:

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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.

Easily distracted and hard to focus? Start doing this.

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.

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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.

And when you start writing down ideas, you’re helping yourself to build a Digital Brain — which actually increases your brain power, boosts memory and helps you become 10X smarter!

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.

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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.

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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.

Final thoughts

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

More by this author

Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

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