Successful people like Richard Branson of Virgin, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and others sort of do things a little bit differently than most “normal” people. That’s because they’ve seemed to figure out how to best manage their time in order to work efficiently, which is a goal that most all of us wish we could accomplish.
For those who might be too focused on only working harder and being busy just to look busy, that’s not really doing a damn thing for your career. Sure, you might be able to get shit done that way, but why go for a run down a street weaving between cars when you could just run in a straight line instead? For those making life harder for themselves, it’s time to stop.
That’s why the good people over at Inc.com talked to some of the world’s most successful people, getting some insight about how to be more productive on the daily, while also getting some suggestions on what has worked best for them during their lives. From cutting out pointless meetings to always carrying a notebook to, finally, understanding how to delegate to others, here are important lessons from some highly successful people.
Successful People Obsess Over How They Spend Their Time
No, really, some successful people don’t focus on how many hours they have in a day, but, instead, minutes. Seriously, that’s what former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller had to say to Inc.com, admitting that she actually breaks her day down into 60-second tasks.
“To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.
While that might seem a little bit extreme in order to be most productive, it does seem to work for Miller. That said, a few other respondents to Inc. weren’t quite as obsessive, with a guy like Mark Cuban admitting that, to focus on getting things done, he eliminates meetings from his daily schedule.
“Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.” Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander around their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can and hold fewer of them yourself. If you do run a meeting, keep it short and to the point.
Unlike Mark Cuban, not all of us can control whether or not we have to attend meetings. That said, if there’s a chance to skip a few each week in order to stay focused on getting a task done, it’s best to do so; in Cuban’s mind.
Writing To-Do Lists And Trying To Remember Things Aren’t Traits Of Successful People
Some successful people might have a photographic memory that has the ability to remember everything about someone or something, but, even if that’s the case, the majority of them still rely on writing things down as reminders. That’s what seems to work best for Richard Branson and Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who apply to the school of thought that a notebook can be your best friend.
“Always carry a notebook,” said Onassis. “Write everything down. That is a million-dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!” Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.
However, one thing you won’t find many successful people doing is sticking to a to-do list. Why? Simply because it sets you up for failure when something either distracts you from getting a task done or you don’t have time to tackle it.
Schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41 percent of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which in essence means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them.
The people who get the most done are those who treat their calendar like a bible, knowing where they have to be at what time, rather than making a mundane list of tasks they hope to finish by the end of each day. Which sounds better to you?
When It Comes To Saying ‘No’, Successful People Are Masters
Learning the ability to say “no” isn’t easy. Hell, in some cases, it’s downright terrifying for some reason, worrying that doing so might upset a coworker or friend. That’s not something successful people worry much about, though, because they have no problem telling people “no” when necessary.
Billionaire Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” And James Altucher colorfully gave Inc. this tip: “If something is not a ‘Hell, yeah!’ then it’s a no.”
There’s an old adage that goes like this: “fuck yes or fuck no.” When it comes to being successful and productive, it seems as if it’s a motto that some of the world’s most influential people stick to.
But saying “no” is just half the battle, because, at times, doing so means delegating tasks to other people. Just listen to how the Inc. article breaks things down when it comes to handing over responsibilities.
Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the I out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don’t have control issues, and they are not micro-managers. In many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.
Remember, just working isn’t good enough. Working your best and most efficiently in order to get something done right the first time is what will make you most successful.
Having The Same Morning Routine To Increase Energy Each Day Is Critical
Whether it’s reading the newspaper, eating a healthy breakfast or sneaking in a workout, most of the successful people that Inc.com spoke with — which was more than 200 — all shared one thing in common: they had a morning ritual. It’s important to nurture your mind the same every single day to get things started, which can then lead to having enough energy to survive all that needs to get done.
Since no one can add more hours or minutes into a day, highly successful people don’t skip meals, sleep or breaks, but, instead, make sure they have what’s necessary to fuel them. After all, it takes more than a 9-to-5 to stay disciplined in order to meet daily goals, and you’ve got to be sharp the entire time.
For those looking for even more ways to become more successful themselves, head on over to Inc.com to see some other tips on how to be most productive.