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8 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently

Everyone has their own image of what a highly successful person looks like: taking on a million projects a day, getting barely enough sleep, never taking breaks, but somehow still accomplishing all the things on their to-do list.

I’m here to tell you that this image that we’ve created of successful people is completely wrong.

As an entrepreneur who’s guilty of falling into these habits, I have learned the hard way that sleep deprivation should not be worn as a badge of honor and proper breaks are, in fact, highly rewarding for your daily focus. From my personal experience and from studying highly successful people, here are the similarities I have found that truly make people successful in accomplishing their daily goals.

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They touch things only once.

How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail — a bill perhaps — and then put it down only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an email, and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes — whatever it is — they’ll deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress since it won’t be in the back of their mind, and is more efficient since they won’t have to re-read or evaluate the item again in the future.

They practice a consistent morning routine.

My single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with me. Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, told me, “While most people focus on ‘doing’ more to achieve more, The Miracle Morning is about focusing on ‘becoming’ more so that you can start doing less, to achieve more.” While I heard about a wide variety of habits, most people I interviewed nurtured their body in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast and light exercise. They nurtured their mind with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, and journaling.

They don’t use to-do lists.

Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out only 41% of items on to-do lists are ever actually done. And all those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live from that calendar. “Use a calendar and schedule your entire day into 15-minute blocks. It sounds like a pain, but this will set you up in the 95th percentile…”, advises the co-founder of The Art of Charm, Jordan Harbinger.

They follow the 80/20 rule.

You may have heard of this before when trying to eat healthy — it also applies to productivity and business success. Known as the Pareto Principle, 80% of outcomes often come from only 20% of the work or activities we do. Ultra-productive people know what drives the greatest results, so they focus on those and ignore the rest. Find your 20% by understanding where your effort goes during the day and re-prioritizing.

They focus on minutes, not hours.

Average performers default to hours and half-hour blocks on their calendar. Highly successful people know there are 1,440 minutes in every day and nothing is more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told me, “To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” You must master your minutes to master your life.

They say “no” to almost everything.

Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” They know not everything is worth spending time on and even the most appealing opportunities sometimes have to be cut. In a similar sense, James Altucher colorfully gave me this tip: “If something is not a “hell YEAH! then it’s a “hell NO!”

Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in every day. Don’t give them away easily.

They process email only a few times a day.

Ultra-productive people don’t reflexively check email throughout the day. They don’t immediately respond to every vibration or ding that has interrupted their work flow. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their email quickly and efficiently. For some, that’s only once a day. For me, it’s morning, noon and night.

They know energy is everything.

You can’t make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy which will increase your attention, focus, decision making, and overall productivity. Highly successful people don’t skip meals, sleep or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and pulse and pause with “work sprints.”

If you liked these tips, let us know and we can post more! We also have “Seven Easy Steps to Get the Best Sleep of Your Life” here.

If you’re looking for even more, hit us up on our website or on social media to get more of our proven PSYFI™ hacks!

Have an awesome day.

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