15 Productivity Habits of Successful People

habits podcast productivity success Jun 08, 2020
Mark Struczewski

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So...you want to be more productive but aren't quite sure how?

No, worries! There's no need for you to wonder or try to figure it out for yourself.

I did the research for you and discovered 15 productivity habits of successful people.

1. They know what brings them the biggest return on investment of their time. Ask yourself: what do you have to do (high-value work) and what can you outsource (busy work)? Successful people gravitate toward work that may be uncomfortable and difficult and they outsource what’s easy and familiar.

2. They get up early

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at 3:45 am to get a head start on email
  • Founder and CEO of the dtx company, Tim Armstrong, starts his day at 5:00 am
  • Chairman and CEO of VEON, Ursula Burns, rises at 5:15 am to do email and work out.
  • Former Chairman & CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, rises at 5:30 am to work out.
  • Twitter and Square CEO, Jack Dorsey, wakes up at 5:30 am for a 6-mile run.
  • 'Shark Tank' investor, Kevin O'Leary, wakes up at 5:45 am and checks the Asian and European bond markets.
  • Virgin Group founder and chairman, Richard Branson, rises with the sun at around 5:45 am
  • Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is at the office by 6 am
  • Michelle Obama working out by 4:30 am
  • I joined the 5 am Club on February 4th of 2020 and have found this has been one of my better business decisions

 3. They don't multitaskThe more you try to do, the efficiency of all that you’re doing decreases. Not to mention that your brain can only do one thing at a time. Focus on one thing for a period of time. Close email programs, distracting tabs on your browser, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, disable vibration mode, and place your phone face down. Find the Pomodoro Technique that works for you. Here's what I use.

4. They plan and use listsSuccessful people are meticulous planners. They capture thoughts and ideas so they won’t forget them. It frees them from having to remember everything. Check out The Great Debate: To-Do Lists Vs Calendars and The Key to Using To-Do Lists Effectively.

5. They take notesThe late Jim Rohn was known to have a complete library of notes he’d taken throughout his lifetime. He was determined to capture everything that mattered or seemed interesting - including pictures.


6. They keep meetings at a minimumAccording to High Five:

  • Every year since 2000, the time spent in meetings has increased by about 10%
  • An average meeting lasts anywhere from 31 to 60 minutes
  • There are only 2-4 people involved in 73% of meetings

Meetings can be a huge waste of time. Be very diligent about the meetings you attend and avoid them if possible.

They also limit speaking time in those settings, forcing everyone involved to be as clear and concise as possible. Gary E. McCullough of Career Education says he limits the time people have to speak by only allowing them half the amount of time they ask for.

Here are 10 Ideas for More Productive Meetings.

7. They meditate. According to DisturbMeNot,

  • It’s estimated that 200–500 million people meditate worldwide
  • Mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 73% of the time
  • Practicing meditation can increase your attention span after only 4 days
  • Oprah Winfrey, a devotee of meditation, credits the practice not only with increased productivity but improved relationships with all of the important people in her life
  • Just 20 minutes will do wonders

Here's Why I Think You Should Meditate.

8. They prioritize fitness and nutritionAccording to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition:

  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week
  • 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive

On August 29, 2017, I began to run at least one mile every single day.

9. They take breaks.


According to Psychology Today: 

  • “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health. Constant sitting—whether at your desk, the TV, or the lecture hall—puts you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. Getting up from your chair to walk, stretch, do yoga, or whatever activity you prefer can reduce the negative health effects from too much sitting.
  • Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.” Author S.J. Scott points out that the need to make frequent decisions throughout your day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability. 
  • Breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals. According to a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.” 
  • Breaks increase productivity and creativity. Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative. 

In this post, I discuss the power of micro-breaks.

10. They practice gratitude. According to the Harvard Medical School:

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Here are 13 Ways to Be Grateful.

11. They make personal development a priority

According to the HuffPost

Warren Buffet when asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, ”Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Buffett takes this habit to the extreme -- he read between 600 and 1000 pages per day when he was beginning his investing career and still devotes about 80 percent of each day to reading.

  • Bill Gates - 50 books a year
  • Mark Cuban - 3 hours a day

Read Habits: 5 Things I Do Everyday.

12. They celebrate small victories.

You should celebrate all victories but most victories will be small. Large victories, on the other hand, are far and few between. Don't dismiss small victories. They are the building blocks of your success.

13. They're honest.

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, just 26% of respondents described themselves as very honest people. 48% said they are honest. 14% said they are somewhat honest. 9% were neutral. And just 3% said they consider themselves to be dishonest people.

When evaluating other people’s honesty, people aren’t quite as optimistic. However, the majority of people seem to feel that those around them at least try to be honest. 54% think that people are generally honest. And in general, 90% of respondents agree that honesty is a positive trait for people. However, 62% also agree that it is possible for people to be too honest sometimes.

14. They speak with certainty.

How's your vocabulary? Do you tend to say “um”,  “I’m not sure” or, “I think”? Successful people speak assertively. They say what they mean and mean what they say.

Ask those around you - especially your inner circle, how your vocabulary is. You may be surprised as to what you hear.

15. They’re composed.

It's easy to be composed when things are going well. But how is your self-control when the you-know-what hits the fan and all heck breaks loose? Do you start yelling and throwing things or are you calm despite the chaos? Successful people monitor their emotions and stay composed and in control.

There you have it: 15 productivity tips of successful people.

Which ones do you possess?

A better question is: which ones do you need to implement?

Take some time to do an inventory of yourself or, even better, ask those closest to you. Vow to make the necessary changes so you, too, can become a more productive version of yourself.

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