8 Transformative Habits of the World's Great Achievers

March 28, 2017 Eric Mann 0 Comments


Who hasn’t wanted to squeeze another hour or two into the day to get more done? While you can’t pause the clock, you can maximize time by increasing productivity. So I thought, “why not learn from some top performers?” and searched the web for ideas. Read on for a roundup of time tricks and techniques from some of the planet's most productive people. 

1. Simplify
Steve Jobs is over cited, but it’s probably because he was so remarkably talented. How did he accomplish so much in the limited time he had? By doing less. Jobs was known for looking at every project and whittling down the choices to the best ones. This strategy helps you focus on your primary goals and also helps prevent you from being overwhelmed and immobilized. Time expert Peter Turla echoes this approach, “It’s not how many things you start that make you successful. It’s how many worthwhile things you finish.” Jobs got this and lived it.

2. Rise Up. Literally.
What did Agatha Christie, Sir Winston Churchill and Leonardo Da Vinci have in common? They all wrote standing up.  Before you write off this habit as a gimmick, consider recent research from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health that suggested using standing desks may amp up productivity by as much as 53 percent. After all, companies like Facebook aren't outfitting their offices with standing desks on a lark. Want to get something done? Stand up.

3. Get to Know Yourself
What works best for one person may not work best for you. This applies to when as well as to where.  Do you work best in the early morning, like Ben Franklin, who coined the phrase, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a many healthy, wealthy and wise,” or in the wee hours, like German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright Friedrich Schiller, who was known for doing all of his work at night? Knowing where you fall in the mix can help you structure your days (and nights) for optimal productivity. Figure out what time and environment work for you and put them to use. For me, it’s anywhere that I can plug in my headset and turn on my Chill Pandora channel to get focused.

4. But Try Exercising
Exercise gets the blood pumping — and, for many, the creative juices flowing. This infographic of the daily routines of famous creative people reveals that a walk, run or swim is often part of the picture. From clearing the head to recharging the body, there's no arguing that exercise is a productivity-booster. An “ah-ha” moment rarely comes while sitting in a meeting with 20 people. It comes when you have a moment to breathe and pause. So take a walk, or even just the long route to the coffee room, to give your brain the space to unleash its creativity.

5. Experiment
How do you know what will work? Try out different methods and approaches. Consider Vladimir Nabokov,  who used index cards so he could easily rearrange the pieces of his writing. While this may seem like a waste of time, it actually led to better results over the long run. Here’s another way of looking at it, according to John D. Rockefeller: “If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” Do a little something to mix up your everyday routine. Have you brushed your teeth with the other hand recently? (I do, and scramble eggs with the other hand as well. Not easy.)

6. Don’t Break the Chain
Malcolm Gladwell has famously suggested that 10,000 hours is “the magic number of greatness." He means that’s how long you should practice to get great at anything. While Gladwell's examples included everyone from Bill Gates to the Beatles, Jerry Seinfeld also subscribes to a similar productivity tool: repetition. “After a few days,” the comedian says,  “You’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” Start with short, easy tasks so you actually stick with it to create the habit. Use a chain calendar to track your progress and build on it every day.

7. Say “Yes” to Feedback
Mark Twain used to read his day’s work to his family after dinner to get their feedback. This wasn’t an exercise in vanity, but one of productivity. Many people are afraid of feedback, and with good reason. it can really suck hearing that your work isn’t valued. But to get it right, it’s that feedback that enables you to learn and grow. As Sheila Heen, author of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, told Harvard Business Review: “People who go out and solicit negative feedback — meaning they aren’t just fishing for compliments — report higher satisfaction. They adapt more quickly to new roles, get higher performance reviews, and show others they are committed to doing their jobs.” Ed Batista, Executive coach and a lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, says:, “If you’re having a feedback conversation every week, there’s less to be surprised by and more opportunity to modify your behavior.” Strive to get the most candid feedback possible for your efforts. You’ll win in the long run.

8. Say “No” to Meetings
What does billionaire investor Mark Cuban consider to be his “secret life hack” for improved productivity? Avoiding meetings and phone calls in favor of email. He told Thrive Global, “Love it. Live on it. Saves me hours and hours every day. No meetings. No phone calls. All because of email. I set my schedule." Cuban's meeting-averse philosophy overlaps with that of celebrated economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who once declared, "Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything."  Still not convinced that doing away with meetings makes sense? Look at it business writer Dale Dauten's way:  "A meeting moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room.” The takeaway? Unless you're that slowest mind, your time is being wasted. While most of us can’t avoid meetings altogether, we can ask for agendas (so meetings don’t get derailed), accept only the meetings that move our ball forward, and help identify clear goals/outcomes for the meetings we attend.

You probably know someone in your own life whose accomplishments seem to defy the laws of time and space. In reality, however, their successes are at least in part about using time to their advantage. Which begs the question: Why aren't you doing the same?  

Do you have a great tip for being effective with time? Let us know here.
 

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