Most days, your day starts with tumbling out of the bed to shut off the alarm, a quick shower, then, coffee while running out of the door. A long ride in the traffic to the office, a long to-do list is made with your head in the hand, a day which goes by in a blur and before you know it, you are back in the bed staring at the ceiling, wondering “One more day gone!”
How is it that some people seem to do so much within one day while you are just about ticking the 6th item on the task list?
If you study the habits of the successful people, you can unlock the keys for a joyful and highly productive day. Want to know more? Read on.
The habits that I have studied are:
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- Successful people get up early and start early
- Create a Positive Mindset for the day
- Have a Ritual to start the day
- Clear about the Big Picture and how the day serves that
- Seek to Serve people around them
- Eat properly and the right foods
- Seek Feedback throughout the day
- Aware of the Impact on others
- Fully Present in meetings
- Create time instead of managing it
- Bring clarity to their life and their teams
- They take Time Out
- Grateful for the day has offered
- Wind down the day at the right time
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Successful people get up early and start early
A landmark research by Christoph Randler shows people whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success. Here is a list of Successful CEOs and Entrepreneurs start their day early. While most would start by 6 am or even 7 am, they begin the day by 4:30 – 5 am. The early start has multiple advantages: the quiet time allows for setting the right direction for the day. Starting early means you have a head start on everyone. You are also using the extra time available for doing the most important things of the day. Imagine having that valuable time in the morning to connect with your deepest resources and creating a state which brings out the best? What would you do?
Albert Einstein said this was “The most important decision” Ask yourself. Would you want to start the day grumpy and hopeless or would you want to feel optimistic and raring to meet the day with all its glorious opportunities? I am sure you chose the latter. How would you do it? By having a routine for it which sets you in the right frame of mind. It starts as Einstein suggested by putting the thought in your mind that the world is positive, and there are good things to look forward to it.
My personal mantra is “Thank you God for giving me this gift of life for another day. I look forward to the world which is full of opportunities” We are blessed every day with the act of waking up. Ask all those families whose loved ones don’t. It is true that the world has many opportunities which we need to recognize and harness. If nothing else, the day is full of opportunities to improve yourself. What would you want to say to yourself first thing in the morning?
The thought is only the beginning. Successful people build a ritual which they adhere to day after day. The ritual could be meditation, yoga, a gym routine or even a 5 mile run in the morning. Research shows that even ten mins of meditation helps in combating anxiety, stress, cardiovascular diseases and chronic pains. It releases important hormones which put you immediately in a highly productive state. A proper mind and body routine in the morning preps the mind for a high-performance state which lasts longer than just having coffee and making a dash for the office.
The key is also consistency. Whatever the routine, stick to it. If you do 15 mins Yoga, make sure you do it every day. If you do ten mins of CrossFit, make sure you do it every day. This consistency builds the neural networks which create a positive self-image. You create a self-image which says “I keep the promises which I make to myself.” Ove time and especially in times of crunch, when you want to draw on your reserves for facing challenges, this one statement will ride you out of the challenges ahead.
Successful people are Purpose Driven. Cal Newport in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You makes a persuasive case for why Purpose-driven work trumps Passion. This focus on purpose and its fulfillment help in creating the positive wave which they ride through the day. Purpose driven individuals also feel less or no fatigue compared to task based ones. They are clear about the What and the Why before the How. Gary Keller in The One Thing encourages you to ask the question “What’s the One thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Successful people are clear about how this one day helps the week which in turn serves the month and hence, the year ahead. This helps them serve not only their agenda but also serve others.
Successful people are clear about what they want. More importantly, they are clear how about how they want to serve and enhance other people’s lives. They always ask the question “How can I help?” By relentlessly focusing on the serving others, their family, their teams and their community are always getting the best from them. This emphasis also creates a deep sense of fulfillment which powers their day ahead. Have you experienced that fulfillment when you spent a day in the charity of your choice? Do you remember how your mood was at the end of the day? Now Imagine if every day you went out with the concept of serving your team, your family, and your community. How would that be?
This might seem an odd habit, but it is an important routine for highly productive people. We know that the best in the field of sports and high-performance areas make sure that they eat correctly. Why should it be different for anyone else in the business? The critical idea is to have a no fuss routine. Successful people know what foods keep them in productive conditions and more importantly, what foods will make them sluggish. They know that having a heavy steak night, before an important client meeting next day, is not an option. We derive our energy through breath and the foods we eat. We have a limited way to control what we breathe; we can surely exercise judgment and build awareness around what foods bring out the best in us.
We expend a lot of energy speaking and also learn very less compared to listening. Successful people listen more. They know what they know and also, what they do not know. They are always listening because that way they are continuously getting new perspectives to what they know and rapidly reducing the items, they do not know. Listening also helps them understand what the other person’s needs and desires are. By helping other people reach their needs and desires, successful people create impact for themselves and others.
This is a point which I cover in my book Stop Reset Start under the leadership section. Successful people are sensitive to others and the impact they are having on others. By tuning into how other people are receiving and processing information and more importantly, what emotional states the team is passing through, they harness the productivity of the teams.
At present, there is a disconnect between what the C-suite thinks is important and what Teams want. Research done by The Economist amongst 4000 professionals shows that Teams expect their Leaders to demonstrate more Emotional Intelligence. Successful leaders know that because they operate from that mindset i.e. human beings are rational and emotional beings. What gives meaning to their actions is Emotions. Successful leaders are in tune with the emotions of those around them. How would you think they would behave in meetings?
Productive people are fully present in the moment. When they attend meetings, they either put their cellphones and watch alerts on off or keep it with their assistant. Their focus is on the person speaking and the team in the room. Since they are always working at improving their sensitivity, they keep away the distractions and tune into what the person is saying. More importantly, the ability to tune into person helps them understand what the person is not saying – his fears, his desires, his ambition. This ability to be fully present is aided by the morning routine of meditation or yoga. This ability brings the much-needed clarity and confidence when successful people make decisions as they know where everyone would be on any decision he or she take. It also helps them in knowing which work is best done by others hence creating time for them.
Rory Vaden in his book Procrastinate on Purpose talks about how successful people create time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2X7c9TUQJ8
In a very persuasive manner, he brings out this important distinction between those who manage time (the usual time management techniques which fail) and the effective practice of Creating time.
You may wonder how is that possible? Successful people have a clear system of delegating and automating tasks. They always ask the question “Where do I add the maximum impact? Which are the tasks which I can automate? Which tasks can I delegate?” This makes sure that the work they focus on, generates the highest impact. At the same time, by automating the repetitive tasks and delegating tasks which can do it better than them, they free time for themselves which they can use for creating the maximum impact. This focus on creating time also brings clarity on what is important.
Successful people bring clarity in their life and for their teams. While they accept ambiguity and uncertainty as aspects of life, they also recognize that the people around them would want them to be clear. They bring clarity on their purpose and for those around them. They bring clarity on the direction which they and their teams are headed to. They bring out the best in their teams and themselves by being focused on the items which bring the maximum impact – for their teams, their business, their family and themselves.
In the evening, they could be present with their friends, family or community. This may or may not happen every day, but it is important for successful people to be in tune with those close to them. It is part of their heart-centered leadership. It is part of their fulfillment. It is an integral part of who they are. Their life is not compartmentalized but integrated. They know being with their loved ones, their friends and the community builds the positive virtuous cycle of fulfillment for them. This engagement with the personal goals helps them aware of the silent gifts received by them through the day for which they are grateful.Gratitude is the Parent of all other Virtues - Marcus Cicero Click To Tweet
Successful people, regardless of their faith, are grateful for the gifts received during the day. They acknowledge that there many factors which create the success which they desire and achieve. They are grateful for the help and support received by them throughout the day. Some may end the day with a prayer. The net result is the same. Being grateful is an acknowledgment of all the silent gifts we received through the day. The universe has played its part during the day, and the least we can do is thank it. Gratitude is the only currency in the Universe.
Is there anything left just before you go to sleep?
A crucial part of their routine is to wind down at the right time. Research shows the Gratitude leads to great sleep. A great liftoff for the next day starts with closing the night at the right time. Good sleep is a priority for successful people. In her book The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington talks about how sleep has a direct impact on decision making, our health, our work and personal lives. Before the end the day, Successful people mark out what needs to be accomplished the next day. It is an important part of the sleep ritual and makes sure that there is a closure to the day. Research shows how we need to have a digital sunset the blue light emitted by our smartphones and other digital devices disrupt our sleep cycle. It is important we pay attention to our sleep just as the successful people do.
Do you have a habit which makes you productive? Please share in the comments below.
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