14 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People

habits successful productive people
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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

The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years - Thomas Jefferson Click To Tweet

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?

Create a Positive Mindset for the day

Every morning you have two choices - continue to sleep with dreams or wake up and chase your dreams! Click To Tweet

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?

Have a Ritual to start the day

Yoga is a light: The better your practice, the brighter the flame - B.K.S. Iyengar Click To Tweet

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.” Over 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.

Clear about the Big Picture and how the day serves that

What is The One Thing I can Do, such that by doing everything else will be easier or unnecessary? - Gary Keller Click To Tweet

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.

Seek to Serve people around them

Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living - Albert Einstein Click To Tweet

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?

Eat properly and the right foods

Eat less from the box and more from the earth. Click To Tweet

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.

Seek Feedback throughout the day

Successful people use failures to sharpen their intuition - Gordana Biernat Click To Tweet

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.

Aware of the Impact on others

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened - Lao Tsu Click To Tweet

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?

Successful leaders are in tune with the emotions of those around them. How would you think they would behave in meetings?

Fully Present in meetings

Future depends on what you do Today - Mahatma Gandhi Click To Tweet

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 takes. It also helps them in knowing which work is best done by others hence creating time for them.

Create time instead of managing it

We lose time by not knowing where we're going - Rory Vaden Click To Tweet

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.

Bring clarity to their life and their teams

Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant Click To Tweet

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.

They take Time Out

When in doubt, choose the kids. There will be plenty of time later to choose work - Anna Quindlen Click To Tweet

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.

Grateful for the day has offered

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?

Wind down the day at the right time

Sleep is the best form of meditation - Dalai Lama Click To Tweet

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.

In summary:

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

Do you have a habit which makes you productive? Please share in the comments below.

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13 thoughts on “14 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People”

  1. Super write up !!!
    What I liked the most about it was that it aided the learning thru links to multiple info sources like books, youtube videos, articles, etc.
    And well my favourite is daily ritual !

    1. Thanks Ankit for the kind words. I am happy it has helped you. Hats off you picked the Daily Ritual: one of the toughest and most impactful of the lot

  2. A lot of useful tips on moving in the right direction for future leaders . Clear and crisp writing which is your forte Santosh. Looking forward to more such articles.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Arpita. This one took a fair bit of research and hope to keep it going for others also.

  3. Nice piece Santosh… I try and practice some of these (not all yet!), but this is a great check list and guiding framework. I think there is something in the area of fast but considered decision making, or at least not putting things off and over-thinking, that is also part of success.

    1. Thanks Andy and great to hear from you. You are right about the “Action over Anticipation” behavior and indeed, is a trait of effective leaders. Thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Delighted to go through this lovely and insightful piece , Santosh Chief. So cogently and simply outlined pearls of wisdom, that should provide helpful tips to all striving achievers.

    In my own experience, while I would like to improve on many parameters, I seem to have clearly erred at least on three of your recommendations.

    I have in the past the ignored the importance of good sleep, and while working on some important projects, I would stay up all night for days together in the office only, and get home only for an hour or two in the morning, before getting back to office again(during my Tata days).

    In retrospect, I would have no hesitation in admitting, that this habit was unwise and harmful to physical well-being. Even in subsequent years, I hardly ever slept before 1.30am. So, effectively, it meant no more than 5 hours of sleep, as I would get up by 6.30am. I share this just so that many who may be in a similar habit, could learn from others ‘mistakes.

    For some time now, I’ve been working on sleeping earlier (I have no sleep disorders), but need to improve a lot more.

    And the second one is linked with the aforementioned, and that is starting the day even earlier than I have been doing. Once I start going off to sleep by 11.30 pm, I can get up by 5.30am, which should be great from my reckoning.

    What I loved a great deal in your recommendations is the idea of creating time instead of managing it. Food for thought for my further growth as a person.

    Thank you once again, for sharing such a brilliant piece, and will look forward to more..

    1. Chief, Thanks for all the kind words. Coming from a learned and wise person like you means a lot. Special thanks for the vulnerability with which you have shared your experience. Creating time is indeed a fascinating perspective, and I have loved Rory Vaden’s work on it. I am glad you have liked the post, and the bar is clearly raised for me.

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