Everyone wants to be more productive – and everyone seems to have their own ideas about how to get there. Long lists of productivity tips have their place, but not every optimization strategy applies to every career or home. The most productive approach to seeking out productivity advice is to go straight to the source: the successful people who’ve made careers out of getting results.
See for yourself how these five super-successful people operate more efficiently. Their strategies are hardly secret.
1. Schedule Your Calls in Advance
“If you find yourself in the middle of something, getting an unprompted annoyance is incredibly frustrating. So I try to respect that. Unless it’s really an emergency, I’m not going to bother you,” self-described “mono-tasker” and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian told Fast Company.
Ohanian schedules all his calls in advance, regardless of subject matter. That way, he can devote 100% of his focus to each conversation – and avoid productivity-sapping interruptions.
2. Trust Your Team
When every second counts, you need to trust the people you’ve surrounded yourself with. They need to be just as productive as you – and they need to know what it takes to keep you productive.
“My staff has been with me for decades and each person is always ready and prepared to do what is next,” says Arnold Siegel, noted American philosopher and founder of Autonomy and Life.
Siegel’s approach applies whether you’re managing a small team that’s part of a much larger corporate bureaucracy or running that entire bureaucracy yourself. And it’s doubly important for independent professionals and small business owners who act as their own bosses. When the buck stops with you, you need to hold everyone around you accountable for your productivity – which is directly correlated with your success.
3. Make Time for Family
This seems like a counter-productive bit of advice. Make time for your family when you’re trying to conquer the world? Surely there are more important matters at hand.
Actually, no. Family time – and, to be clear, “family” can mean “your dog and Netflix” – is critical for your mental health. It’s your time to recharge your batteries and re-set for whatever tomorrow brings.
Andy Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel, famously made it home for dinner with his family whenever he wasn’t on the road. If the guy who ran the world’s largest chipmaker could make time to dine with his loved ones, so can you.
4. Get Enough Rest
Family time and rest go hand in hand. More precisely, you’re more likely to get restful sleep when you’re at home with your family. (Unless you have an infant in the house. Then there’s no hope.)
Arianna Huffington, the wildly successful media entrepreneur who built the Huffington Post from the ground up, is a fervent advocate for adequate shuteye. And she practices what she preaches: no screens in bed, six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleeping time, and no waking-hours activities that make restful sleep less likely come evening.
When you’re on a mission, it’s tough to step away from the battlefield for even a minute, let alone eight hours. But successful people know that productivity isn’t about the quantity of hours worked. It’s about their quality.
5. Stay Out of the Conference Room
Why meet when you can work? That’s billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s take on meetings, which he sees as a productivity-sapping evil on par with cat videos. He avoids cluttering his schedule with standing meetings. When it’s absolutely necessary to meet face-to-face with his team, he sets the agenda in advance and puts a strict time limit on the proceedings.