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Productivity Hacks of 8 Famous Thinkers and Leaders

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.

                  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 July 8, 2020

                  How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

                  How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

                  What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

                  When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

                  In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

                  While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

                  As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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                    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

                    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

                    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

                    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

                    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

                    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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                    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

                    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

                    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

                    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

                    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

                    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

                    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

                    How to Make Decision Effectively

                    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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                    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

                    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

                    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

                    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

                    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

                    You don’t have to choose all the time.

                    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

                    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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                    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

                    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

                    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

                    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

                    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

                    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

                    More Tips About Decision Making

                    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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