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7 Secrets on How Super Successful People Manage Their Time

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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

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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 October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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