Advertising
Advertising

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

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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

    More by this author

    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

    Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

    Trending in Lifestyle

    1 The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds 2 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 3 10 Lower Body Workouts Anyone Can Try at Home 4 How to Stop Overeating the Healthy Way (Step-by-Step Guide) 5 How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

    Advertising

    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

    Advertising

    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

    Advertising

    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

    Advertising

    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

    Read Next