The Intriguing Habits of Highly Successful People

It’s a question we get asked all the time. . . “What system do you use to stay organized and productive?” When we’re organized and work is flowing freely, we feel in control. But we all have times when things are happening so rapidly that keeping up with it all leaves us feeling a little lost. Friends are quick to give us their tips. . .

  • “I don’t look at email until I leave work. . .”
  • “I organize first, then turn on my computer.”
  • “I only use a paper system. . .working electronically doesn’t work for me.”

While we appreciate the free advice, often their tips just don’t work for us. So this month, we decided to-do some research and find out how the most successful people organize their days. When Monday arrives, what’s the first thing they do? And what are their weekends like – are they stuck to their electronic devices? What we uncovered was a little surprising. We hope these ideas will help you develop a system that will lead to more success.

First things first. Before you dive head on into work, consider what is important to you. If work-life balance is important, determine what you can do to help achieve that balance and set a goal. For some of the successful people we researched, that meant walking to work – not only to clear their heads of clutter, but also to get some exercise. For others, the morning ritual meant doing something for themselves first, before anything else. Whether that means listening to music, reading for half an hour or getting to the gym, setting their own goals and following through on them resulted in a feeling of control. Having achieved their first goal of the day, successful people were also in the right mood to tackle work.

Planning their week. Clearly, successful people view Monday morning as a fresh start to an exciting work week. They believe that planning their routine helps to set the right tone for the rest of the week. Their habits reveal an organized work ethic. Here are some of those habits:

  1. Getting up early is key – 5 a.m. is not unusual.
  2. Surprisingly, a number of successful people believe in walking their dogs first, which they believe helps their stress levels and improves their health.
  3. Breakfast is their fuel – they don’t skip it but instead realize that it’s a vital part of their day.
  4. Successful people understand the need for exercise and usually, that means getting it done in the morning.
  5. Email organization is top priority. Most successful people only respond to critical emails and delete or file other messages.
  6. Successful people also keep informed – reading the news on their phone or taking the newspaper on the train – is key to their understanding of what’s going on in the world.

Long term planning. Interestingly enough, besides taking care of their own health, both physically and mentally, most successful people spend approximately an hour a day pursuing long-term goals. On a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to get caught up in the tasks at hand, but successful people realize that long-term planning is ultimately how they will make their mark on this world. For many of these successful people, they’ve achieved the status they have today because they learned how to handle distractions and they make sure to take the time to dream.

Ending their day. Successful people often recharge after dinner, and after spending time with their families. From 8:30 to 10:30, they are often on the phone, reading papers or organizing the next day. And before going to bed, most take the time to dial it down. That might mean reading a book, getting off electronic devices, turning off the phone or taking a late night walk. That need to evaluate the day and relax before bedtime is important to getting a good night’s sleep.

Unexpected Habits of Successful People. As I did the research for this article, I was reminded of the importance of focus. While you and I may block out an hour or two of our day, most successful people think of their time in minutes, rather than hours. I sometimes brag that when I am the busiest, I’m also the most organized! And so you can see why focusing on minutes, rather than hours, keeps these successful people on their toes.

Another interesting observation about focus – most successful people really don’t believe in multi-tasking. Instead, they focus on one particular thing at a time. And finally, rather than using to do lists, successful people use their calendars to schedule everything. In this way, small, inconsequential tasks that are often found on to-do lists, never make it to their calendars. Their focus is on critical needs.

We can all learn from these successful people. Over the next month, join us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and learn how other people organize their workday. And if your organization or team needs a refreshment course on organizational development, personal development, project management or professional development, give Leah M. Joppy & Associates a call at 301-670-0051. We can help plan your next training session.