Over 200 ultra-productive people including seven billionaires, 13 Olympians, 20 straight-A students and over 200 successful entrepreneurs were asked: “What is your number one secret to productivity?” Their answers were coded into 15 unique ideas.
I have condensed the list below, but to read the entire explanation (and you WILL want to) of the Secrets go to Forbes' full article
Secret #1: They focus on minutes, not hours.
Highly successful people know there are 1,440 minutes in every day and there is nothing more valuable than time
Secret #2: They focus only on one thing.
Ultra productive people know their Most Important Task (MIT) and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions.
Secret #3: 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.
Secret #4: They beat procrastination with time travel.
Your future self can’t be trusted. That’s because we are “time inconsistent.”
Secret #5: They make it home for dinner.
“There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value.
Secret #6: They use a notebook.
Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down…That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!”
Secret #7: They process email only a few times a day.
Ultra-productive people don’t “check” email throughout the day.
Secret #8: They avoid meetings at all costs.
Meetings are notorious time killers.
Secret #9: They say “no” to almost everything.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
Secret #10: They follow the 80/20 rule.
Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases 80% of outcomes come from only 20% of activities.
Secret #11: They delegate almost everything.
Ultra-productive people ask, “How can this task get done?”
Secret #12: They theme days of the week.
Highly successful people often theme days of the week to focus on major areas. For decades I’ve used “Mondays for Meetings” and make sure I’m doing one-on-one check-ins with each direct report. My Friday afternoons are themed around financials and general administrative items that I want to clean up before the new week starts.
Secret #13: They touch things only once.
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.
Secret #14: 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.
Secret #15: Energy is everything.
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.”
Tying It All Together
You might not be an entrepreneur, Olympian, or millionaire—or even want to be—but their secrets just might help you to get more done in less time, and help you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.