Advertising

Productivity Hacks of 8 Famous Thinkers and Leaders

Productivity Hacks of 8 Famous Thinkers and Leaders
Advertising

History is filled with men and women who got significantly more done on a daily basis than seems strictly possible. The legendary production of people like Leonardo DaVinci and Benjamin Franklin is mind boggling, and more than a little humbling to those of us who struggle to get to the gym three times a week or pick up our dry cleaning on time.

How did they do it?

What superhuman traits did these super-productive few wield that we can learn from? For the most part, nothing that you and I can’t put to use on our own on a daily basis, though there are more than a few unexpected hacks that can supercharge your productivity in ways you might not expect.

Here are 8 such hacks and the famous men and women who used them to do all the amazing things they did.

Leonardo DaVinci

davinci

    Leonardo DaVinci was a maestro of productivity. Just look at the man’s list of accomplishments and you realize he must never have slept.

    While there are numerous unproven myths about how DaVinci got so much done in his lifetime — from sleeping for 20 minutes every three hours, to clever variants of outsourcing — we know one thing for certain: he was an active man.

    Advertising

    There is no point in the recorded histories of DaVinci’s life that we see him inactive — not pursuing a new trade, completing one of his masterpieces, or developing a theorem. There is something to be said for downtime, but so, too, is there something to be said for finding the things you love in life and pursuing them daily.

    Benjamin Franklin

    ben-franklin-a-moderately-handsome-portrait

      Ben Franklin is one of America’s most prolific politicians, writers, and inventors, having been instrumental in the American Revolution, the building of American government and inventing numerous useful tools in his life.

      His 13 virtues are legendary for laying out how to live one’s life to maintain temperance, order, frugality, sincerity, justice and more.

      If you are looking for a key to understanding how he got so much done in his life, those 13 virtues are a perfect guide.

      Nelson Mandela

      nelson-mandela

        Nelson Mandela is not the only person on this list to get up early each day, but his early morning walks are somewhat legendary in their own right — a time for him to think about what the day might hold, to process the day before, and to appreciate the freedom to enjoy that time.

        Advertising

        Whether you go to the gym, read the paper, or go for a long walk every morning, getting up early and triggering the physical and mental processes that will lead to greater productivity is a sure fire way to get more done.

        Sylvia Plath

        sylvia-plath

          Sylvia Plath famously woke up early to write every morning, getting as much done as she could before her children woke up.

          The same is true of many writers, thinkers, executives and statesmen and women. There’s something about those first two to three hours of every day when no one is awake and the world is yours.

          If you frequently find yourself interrupted by distractions, phone calls, family members or something else that keeps you from getting work done, consider waking up earlier and getting the most important tasks on your to do list done before anyone else is even awake.

          Thomas Edison

          thomas-edison

            Thomas Edison was a famous napper. Every day he would settle down for an hour or two to nap, recharging his mind and body for greater productivity later in the day.

            Advertising

            He isn’t the only one. Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy both took naps as well — a must for anyone who essentially works from morning to night.

            Winston Churchill

            Winston_Churchill

              Speaking of Churchill, this was a man who took great care with his personal time. Despite running one of the most powerful countries in the world during its most trying times, Churchill would set aside hours every day to nap, take a bath, dress and eat his evening meals in peace.

              He credited his routines for keeping him focused and sane through what would be the hardest period of leadership in Britain during the 20th century.

              Henry Ford

              Henry-Ford

                Henry Ford revolutionized productivity on an industrial level, introducing the methods that ultimately enabled mass production of everything from his Model T automobile to jetliners.

                One of his many sayings (and there were many) was that the “Greatest thing in life is experience. Even mistakes have value.” He believed that if you are going to fail, you should fail fast and learn from that failure.

                Advertising

                In short, you should constantly be doing something — working toward something that will allow you to accomplish your goals, even if failure is a risk.

                Albert Einstein

                Albert-Einstein-Wallpapers-2013

                  Einstein is one of the most important thinkers of the last two centuries, revolutionizing science, enabling the atomic age, and becoming synonymous with great intellect.

                  He was also a very productive man, capable of narrowing his focus for long periods of time on very important tasks.

                  His belief was that to be truly productive, you should focus your energies on a small number of very big things rather than the human tendency to focus on a large number of very small things.

                  Finding inspiration in a way that suits you

                  Inspiration and productivity are closely related. It’s hard to be productive when you have no interest in what you’re doing. At the same time, without productivity, inspiration can wane.

                  Productive men and women like those listed above were able to get more done in their lives because they found something important to them and focused all of their energies on those pursuits.

                  Advertising

                  And when they couldn’t find more time, they found ways to squeeze more energy and more inspiration out of their days. Find those same triggers and you’ll be astounded at how much you can get done.

                  More by this author

                  7 Daily Habits to Be More Productive Working at Home 7 Daily Habits To Be More Productive Working At Home 9 Energy Hacks to Stay Motivated When You’re Exhausted 7 Ways To Entertain A Toddler When It’s Raining 11 Items Successful People Have at Home Productivity Hacks of 8 Famous Thinkers and Leaders

                  Trending in Productivity

                  1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                  Read Next

                  Advertising
                  Advertising

                  Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                  The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                  The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
                  Advertising

                  No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                  Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                  Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                  A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                  Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                  In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

                  Advertising

                  From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                  A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                  For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                  This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                  The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                  That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                  Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

                  Advertising

                  The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                  Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                  But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                  The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                  The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                  A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                  For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

                  Advertising

                  But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                  If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                  For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                  These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                  For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                  How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                  Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

                  Advertising

                  Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                  Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                  My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                  Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                  I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                  More on Building Habits

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                  Advertising

                  Reference

                  [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

                  Read Next