How Successful People Manage Their Time
Have you ever observed a successful person? They carry themselves with an air of confidence, and everything they touch turns to gold. What is it about them that makes them so successful? Many psychologists, philosophers, teachers, and people craving success have researched this topic.
New York Times Best Selling Author, Kevin Kruse, also conducted extensive research on this topic and interviewed a wide variety of successful people. Among the billionaires, olympic athletes, students, and entrepreneurs, he discovered that the common theme and secret to success is the effective use of time. Therefore he compiled their recommendations in his book, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time. These recommendations are as follows:
Time Is Your Most Valuable Resource
Most successful individuals realize the value of time early on in life. Every living person has the same 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet, there is a discrepancy between the percentage of people who accomplish very little and those who accomplish a lot throughout the day.
The secret is that successful people value their time. They identify pockets of time for their tasks and capitalize on that time. Can you pinpoint the times that you don’t necessarily use productively? If so, evaluate how you can best utilize your time towards accomplishing your goals.
Identify Your Most Important Task and Get It Done First
Another key recommendation from successful people is determining your most important task and getting it done first. What is the one thing you have to do to move your business or project forward? Put that task at the forefront of your mind and work on it as soon as you can.
Dan Ariely, a psychology professor from Duke University, found in his studies that people are most productive in their first two hours of the day. This means that we must use those first two hours wisely to increase productivity. Fitting your most important task in those two hours will help you be accomplish more and move closer towards achieving your goals.
Stop Using a To-Do List
Kevin Kruse also found that the majority of the successful people he interviewed do not use a to-do list. Instead, they work from their calendars and prioritize their tasks based on their calendar. The to-do list isn’t very effective as it becomes a graveyard for items that never get accomplished. Bottom line? Ditch the to-do list and use a calendar to schedule your tasks.
Overcome Procrastination and Beat Your Future Self
Procrastination gets the best of us. For this reason, it is important to establish methods that will help you beat procrastination before it kicks in. For example, if you have the tendency to snooze your alarm, put it on the other side of the room. Doing so will make you get up to turn it off, causing you to get up. Does your phone distract you from your work? Turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature and put it away for a time to focus on your work. These steps will help you move closer towards achieving key goals.
There Will Always be More Work
It is easy to fall into the misconception that to succeed, you must keep working until you can no longer stay awake. However, part of success means that you use a specific block of time intentionally for work. Once that block is over, you must move on to activities that will help maintain your health and energy levels. This way, higher quality of work will be produced that will allow you to excel at your craft.
Always Carry a Notebook
Brilliant minds all have a common habit of constantly recording notes. These notes can be new ideas for your projects or new information you learned. They can also be meeting notes and quotes from books you read. Keeping notes will help you retain a knowledge base of everything you need to know to accomplish your goals. For this reason, most successful people will recommend keeping a notebook on hand. Not big on notebooks? Take advantage of one the 55 Notes Apps we rounded up in one of our blog posts.
Control Your Inbox
With the evergrowing shift to online business and social media, it is easy to fall under the control of various inboxes. Everytime a notification goes off, the temptation to check it rises which can lead to precious time wasted on distractions.
To combat this problem, shut off the notifications on your phone or limit them to only what is important. Then, set a specific time for checking email, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms. Some people process email three times a day, while others put it off to the last tasks before signing off for dinner. These tips will allow you to control your inbox and social media, being less distracted from your goals.
Schedule and Attend Meetings As a Last Resort
Everyone knows that meetings can be a sinkhole that pulls precious time away from significant work. The successful billionaires that Kevin Kruse spoke with recommend to use more discernment when scheduling meetings.
Generally, schedule meetings only if they are absolutely necessary. Meetings to update stakeholders or to discuss future plans are probably necessary. But a recurring meeting where little new information is presented should be put off. When conducting these meetings, format them in a way that takes the least amount of time to discuss the subject of the meeting. As Richard Branson states, “There’s few meetings that need to last longer than 5-10 minutes”.
Say No to Everything That Doesn’t Support Your Goals
Successful people are particularly good at filtering out all distractions from their lives. They develop the skill to say no to every activity, commitment, and project that won’t support their goals. Individuals who develop such discernment are rooted in their values and goals. They know exactly what they are after and will not waiver in their battle for success.
While agreeing with this concept is easy, following through on it is actually challenging because people-pleasing tendencies are a challenge for many individuals. It is hard to say no when a friend asks for a favor or when a colleague requests you to cover their shift. However, you must evaluate how saying yes will affect your journey to success. How much will it throw off your schedule? Will you be late on your own deadlines? These are the types of questions you must ask before committing to something new.
Follow the Pareto Principle (80/20)
The Pareto Principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of effort. Determine the key functions that will help you achieve your goal and master them. Spend a majority of your time on these key tasks that will help provide 80% of your results. For example, if your success depends on your sales’ performance, spend time learning how to build relationships and serve people.
Focus on Strengths and Passion
A successful person is in tune with his or her strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to focus on using their strengths to move forward towards their goal and delegate the weaker areas to others. Doing so will allow each person to produce optimal results in the areas they thrive in, producing a well-rounded project.
Batch Work With Recurring Themes
Another common recommendation for productive time management is to batch you work into days with recurring themes. For example, allocate focus days for the most important activities of your project or business. Use this time to dive deep into your core work without being distracted by administrative, mundane tasks.
Then, set buffer days on your calendar. These days are often called administrative days that provide time to catch up on those mundane tasks such as payroll, contract renewals, bills, and other record-keeping activities.
Finally, reserve free days that will allow you to rest and recharge for a new cycle of this schedule. A fresh mind and body is essential to success as they accomplish more and allow you to enjoy the fruit of your labor in maximal health.
If You Can Do a Task in 5 Minutes, Do it Immediately
There are certain short tasks that tend to pile up into an all day affair if they aren’t addressed immediately. As such, many successful people that Kevin Kruse spoke to recommended to do a task immediately if takes five minutes or less. How long does it require to take out the trash or unload the dishwasher? How about putting your coat away or dusting your space? These tasks are under 5 minutes and should be done as soon as they present themselves.
Routinely Use Mornings to Strengthen Your Mind, Body, Spirit
Many successful people will agree that their is power in their morning routine, particularly in the first hour. The first hour of the day will determine how well the rest of the day will go. Use this first hour to maximize on your mental, physical and emotional health. Many people take the time to meditate, write a list of gratitudes or exercise. Doing these things will put your mind and body on the right track for productivity and general happiness.
Productivity is About Energy and Focus, Not Time
The most important secret to keep in mind is that a productive day depends on your energy levels and ability to focus, not the total availability of your time. Take breaks away from your work to refresh your mind and body. Doing so will renew your energy and allow you to produce a higher quality of work.