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The Productivity Tricks and Daily Habits of Famous People

The Productivity Tricks and Daily Habits of Famous People

    Famous visionaries often develop a reputation for having a few eccentricities. However, for many people, these small eccentricities are part of a larger group of daily rituals that help them to be at their most productive and prolific. While not all these tips, tricks, and rituals will work for you, they help to shed light on what some of our most beloved cultural icons and historical figures are willing to do in order to stay on top of their demanding workloads.

    Writers

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    1. Addicted to Notecards: Vladimir Nabokov used 5- by 8-inch index cards to compose and order the scenes in his novels. This allowed him to experiment with the order of the chapters before transcribing the final manuscript.

    2. Slow and Steady: Stephen King has explained that he always writes 10 pages a day, every day of the year (even holidays). His slow and steady approach to project management has ensured that he has a steady stream of new works entering the marketplace, and he is one of the most prolific modern authors working in America today.

    3. Get Up Early: Writers like Mary Higgins Clark and Sylvia Plath started writing at 5 am and 4 am each day, respectively. Both women had small children, and those early moments in the day were the only time they had to pursue their writing careers. Writer Denison Hatch forced himself to write just 500 words per day before starting his day job, and ultimately sold three novels.

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    4. Get Centered With a Favorite Book Passage: Some writers need to go through the ritual of touching base with a favorite literary totem. For example, Somerset Maugham would read Voltaire’s “Candide” before starting work, while Willa Cather read the Bible.

    Businessmen and Entrepreneurs

    5. Be Impulsive: In business, if you have a good idea, you need to move quickly to keep ahead of your competition. In the words of Bill Gates, “When you find a good idea act on it right away.”

    6. Get Ahead By Making It Personal: “Big businesses will always try to crush small upstarts. To beat big businesses, use the strengths of being small. Big corporations are impersonal; staff are often not treated well. At a small company, you can make sure your staff are proud of working for you and then they’ll work hard to be successful. And small companies are more nimble.” – Sir Richard Branson

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    7. Work Long Hours Now, Reap the Benefits Later: Ben Franklin knew the benefits of working long hours, as well as being known among his peers as being a person who worked long hours. This work ethic was essential for growing his printing business. He also had a routine of asking himself questions during the day. Ben Franklin asked himself each morning (at 5 am), “What good shall I do today?”; every night before bed (around 10 pm), “What good have I done to-day?”

    Thinkers and Artists

    8. Get Extreme: Architect Bernard Tschumi avoids procrastination by working at one of two extremes. “I work best either under pressure or by emptying my brain over the weekend,” he explains. “That blank state is helpful. It is like an athlete before a competition.”

    9. Force Yourself to Stay Focused: Greek orator Demosthenes would force himself to stay focused on composing his orations by shaving off half of his hair, making him look so ridiculous that he wouldn’t be tempted to procrastinate by leaving his home. Victor Hugo would do something similar, forcing himself to meet his daily writing goals by having his valet hide his clothes. Yup, the guy who wrote “Les Miserables” liked to work in the nude.

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    10. Never Take Your Eyes Off Your Competition: Playwright Henrik Ibsen would work at a desk decorated with a portrait of arch-rival playwright August Strindberg. Try keeping a picture of your competitors face or company logo on your desk to spur you to new heights.

    11. Use Caffeine (But Don’t Abuse It): Mathematician Paul Erdös used the last 25 years of his life to devote 19 hour days to the pursuit of higher math. To stay alert, he amped himself up with 10 to 20 milligrams of Benzedrine or Ritalin (along with strong espresso and caffeine tablets.) “A mathematician,” he said, “is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.”

    12. Blow Off Some Steam: King Otto, ruler of Bavaria from 1886 to 1913, shot a peasant every morning to start his day. Thankfully, his two advisors were kind-hearted: one gave the king a rifle filled with blanks, and the other dressed as a “peasant”, acting out death throes when he was “shot”. While shooting people is absolutely NOT okay, never underestimate the stress relief you can get from a few rounds of Call of Duty.

    Conclusion

    These examples of the daily routines and productivity tricks of famous people may not be ideally suited for your busy lifestyle, but they are certainly worth keeping in mind the next time you are stuck on a project and need help powering through. And seriously, don’t pull a “King Otto”. That would not be cool.

    Resources and References

    http://notorc.blogspot.com/2006/05/work-habits-of-highly-successful_23.html
    http://writetodone.com/2008/09/04/learn-from-the-greats-7-writing-habits-of-amazing-writers/
    http://www.fastupfront.com/blog/business-tips/35-business-tips-from-famous-entrepreneurs/
    http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/
    http://www.trivia-library.com/c/weird-behavior-of-famous-people-part-1.htm
    http://wehrintheworld.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-jobs-and-working-methods-of-famous.html

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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