Having access to ultra-successful people can provide great insight into what makes them so successful and productive. Kevin Kruse has this access, and recently interviewed over 200 uber-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and many accomplished entrepreneurs. Travis Bradberry, with Entrepreneur, found his most revealing question was “What is your number one secret to productivity?” Here are some fascinating suggestions from Kruse’s findings:
1. Focus on minutes, not hours.
Most of us default to hour and half-hour blocks on our schedule, but the most successful people recognize there are 1,440 minutes in every day, and there is nothing more valuable than time. The Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kruse, “To this day I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute.” Master your minutes to master your life.
2. Focus on only one thing.
Pick your most important task and spend the beginning of your day working on it. What accomplishment will have the biggest impact on your goals or get you promoted at work? That’s what you should be focusing on at the beginning of every day.
3. Don’t use to-do lists.
Instead of making a checklist of items that need to be completed, schedule everything in your calendar, then live and breathe by that calendar. Using a to-do list leads to uncompleted tasks, and those uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until they’re finished.
4. Make it home for dinner.
Intel’s Andy Grove suggested this, saying, “There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Decide what you value in life, then make time for it (i.e., put it on your calendar).
5. Use a notebook.
How many times have you thought of a great idea, only for it to be forgotten later? Carry a notebook to jot down ideas as they come to you.
6. Process emails only a few times a day.
You don’t need to respond to every ding to see what has intruded your mailbox. Schedule time to process your email in increments that are effective for you. For some, this means once a day, for others, it means morning, noon, and night.
7. Say no.
Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” If it’s not an enthusiastic yes, it’s a no. Remember those 1,440 minutes in your day? Don’t give them away to things you aren’t passionate about.
8. Delegate when possible.
Instead of asking, “How can I do this task?” ask, “How can this task get done?” Super-productive people throw their control issues and micro-managing issues out the window and delegate as often as possible.
9. Practice a consistent morning routine.
According to Bradberry, Kevin was most surprised by the number of people who wanted to share their morning routine with him. Some of the most common suggestions were eating breakfast, exercising, meditating, reading, or journaling.
10. Energy is everything.
You can’t create more minutes in the day, but you can manage the energy you put into those minutes. Don’t skip meals, sleep, or breaks in the pursuit of getting more done. Food is your fuel, sleep is your recovery, and breaks are your time to recharge so you can come back fresh and ready to get even more done.