It may seem a hackneyed theme, but with good reason: there really are habits that many highly successful people have in common. By adopting some of these habits for yourself, you may find your days more productive or that you gain skills that allow you to be more successful. You may even find yourself enjoying a better quality of life.
Get Up Early
Morning people are often successful people, but don’t freak out if you’re more of a hit-the-snooze-button-ten-times kind of person. Being an early riser doesn’t have to mean getting up before the sun. For you, it might simply mean getting up an hour earlier than you currently do. This alone can help add more productive time to your day or give you space to incorporate other healthy habits. Another approach is to get up at least three hours before your workday begins. In his research for the book Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, author Thomas C. Corley found that almost 50% of the self-made millionaires he studied implemented this habit.
If you want to become more of a morning person but are struggling to get out of bed, try not to hit snooze as this actually makes getting up harder for most people. Minimize screens before bedtime to help you sleep better (and hopefully) wake up more naturally, and if all else fails, buy yourself a loud alarm clock and put it on the other side of the room so you are forced to get out of bed.
Make the most of your learning experiences by listening carefully and processing information so you retain it. When people spend time teaching you something, they’re giving your part of their heart, brain, and soul. Appreciate this generosity, and gather as much insight as you possibly can by practicing active listening. This is key to becoming a skilled leader. An unquenchable thirst for knowledge will ensure your career never loses momentum or direction.
Get Moving (& Better Yet, Get Outside)
We all know that exercise is important for being healthy, but it does more than just keep your body fit. It helps minimize stress, helps improve memory and learning and for many people, it makes them more creative and productive. If you exercise in the morning (maybe with that extra hour you’ve cultivated for yourself by getting up earlier) you may find you feel more energetic and alert throughout your workday.
And if you can take that exercise outside, you may see even more benefits, from eliminating fatigue to improving your focus and even lowering your risk of early death. Now there are some reasons to get outside and get moving!
This one really is a no brainer, but we’ll spell it out anyway. The more you read, the more you learn, which in turn has the power to transform you into a more accomplished entrepreneur and overall human being. The content you consume does matter though: if you spend your time reading horoscopes and comics, you’re not really going to get much out of the extra effort.
While reading fiction has its benefits, the real gains in your professional life are to be made in non-fiction. From news and feature articles related to business and finance, your industry or relevant technology, to books dedicated to business, self-help, and history, making a point to read every day will increase your knowledge base and help you become a more successful business owner, leader and person.
Maximize Your Work Time
Many of us do not use our time efficiently. Whether it’s because of habits that hinder our productivity, ineffective use of time or straight up procrastination, most of us could implement strategies to better organize ourselves and our day to improve productivity.
- Prioritize your day. This means reprioritizing your to-do list with the most important tasks at the top. Whether you want to pick one big thing or three things, tackle these items at the start of your day. Taking care of the most important or urgent items first helps avoid time wasted by procrastination and frees you up to then work on other lower-priority tasks with a more stress-free mindset.
- Make lists. Setting goals and making lists of tasks associated with them is one of the best ways to keep yourself organized and your business on track. From daily to weekly, monthly and even yearly goal setting, making a list will help you stay task oriented as you work toward both short and long term goals. If you’re having trouble getting or staying organized there is plenty of tech out there to help.
- Be selective with meetings. Meetings are one of the biggest time-wasters in many businesses. Before calling your next meeting, consider the goal and whether a meeting is necessary (you might be surprised how often an email can suffice) and if it is, be sure to have a clear agenda. During the meeting, quickly steer the conversation back on course when it goes off topic.
- Ignore your email. Well, not entirely, but mostly. When you’re constantly checking emails, you lose focus on the task at hand and as a result, productivity plummets. Take a leaf out of Tim Ferris’s book The 4-Hour Work Week and restrict email checking to twice a day – unless of course your actual job is to answer emails all day long.
Keep in mind that building these or other habits of successful people into your daily life does not mean you’ll instantly become the next Mark Zuckerberg. While there is correlation between certain habits and success, there is absolutely no causation. You’re not going to automatically achieve success in your business or personal life just because you start working out or reading a book each week. Incorporating new healthy habits (and breaking bad ones) may help you achieve more success, but a success generator they are not.
So what should your takeaway be at this point? If you’re looking for ways to improve your productivity or business acumen, steal some of these habits if you think they might help. Don’t if they won’t. If you’re a night owl who is more industrious at midnight than you could ever be at 6am, then don’t change a thing. If you already dedicate time to learning new things, you probably don’t need to read more books. Being a morning person or a voracious reader might help other people achieve business success, and although it has the potential to help, it’s not going to make or break yours. Find what habits work for you, and then most importantly, stick to them.