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Productivity Hacks of 8 Famous Thinkers and Leaders

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Productivity Hacks of 8 Famous Thinkers and Leaders

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.

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    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.

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        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.

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            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.

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                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.

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                  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.

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                  Last Updated on October 21, 2021

                  How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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                  How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

                  Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

                  Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

                  The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

                  Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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                  Program Your Own Algorithms

                  Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

                  Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

                  By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

                  How to Form a Ritual

                  I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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                  Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

                  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
                  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
                  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
                  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

                  Ways to Use a Ritual

                  Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

                  1. Waking Up

                  Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

                  2. Web Usage

                  How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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                  3. Reading

                  How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

                  4. Friendliness

                  Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

                  5. Working

                  One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

                  6. Going to the gym

                  If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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                  7. Exercise

                  Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

                  8. Sleeping

                  Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

                  8. Weekly Reviews

                  The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

                  Final Thoughts

                  We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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                  More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

                   

                  Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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