I’ve owned my own business since 2012, but it wasn’t until a few months ago, that I finally figured out when I’m most productive during the day at CoachUp. Perhaps it’s a remnant of those early morning practices back when I was playing professional basketball, but I realized the morning is when I am most effective. Since then, I’ve been working to maximize my productivity around these peak hours. Sounds simple, right? It took some time to get used to.
Every morning, I log out of all social media and news sites, put my phone on silent, put on noise-cancelling headphones and work for two hours. I take a 15-minute break, then top it off with another two hour sprint before lunch.
That newly formed habit dramatically increased my output. This is a highly personal habit, one based on my own internal preferences; and it made me think about the unique habits of other high achievers, “Successful people, regardless of what they do for a living, must have some unorthodox habits that I can integrate into my own life to become more effective, right?”
They do, indeed. Here are six that I found (one morning while working furiously!):
Pat Riley, Professional Basketball Executive, Former NBA Coach
Habit: Focusing on small wins.
In 1986, the Los Angeles Lakers, regarded as one of the best teams in the history of basketball, ironically didn’t even play for the NBA championship that year.
Enter Pat Riley. Widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Riley took the Lakers and led them to back-to-back championships from 1986-1988.
How did he do this? He pushed players to focus on becoming 1 percent better every day. He had the Lakers reframe their pursuit of the end goal — the championship — and encouraged them instead to focus on making each game count towards that ultimate goal.
If the Lakers were able to win back-to-back championships by focusing on becoming 1 percent better, imagine what we can do if we focus on becoming 1 percent better at what we do every day. Maybe that means you set aside 10 minutes to work on writing, or set a goal to check in with your direct reporter at least once a day. Maybe you just aim to tackle 1 more task on your to do list. These small changes can make a big difference.
Michael Johnson, American Sprinter
Habit: Paying attention to the details
Successful athletes place a lot of faith in their coaches. However, those athletes that make it don’t just rely on their coach. They focus on self-education. They aim to have a superior scientific understanding of each key principle of their training program, and know it better anyone else.
Both highly successful athletes and people focus on the important details so they can make small, regular increments of improvement. How can you break down the key details of your job? Once you have, how can you refine and hone those skills to become a better practitioner overall?
Warren Buffett, CEO Berkshire Hathaway, Investor
Habit: Saying “no.”
Warren Buffett, investor, philanthropist, and one of the richest men in the world, has made it a point that successful people “say no to almost everything.” This is coming from a man whose company’s stock runs for over $200,000 a share.
Successful people constantly get invited to work on projects or go to parties, but all of that is noise to them. They have a strong sense of priority and know what they want to spend their time on. We shouldn’t feel like we need to say no to everything, but rather be more selective with what we choose to say yes to.
Tim Ferris, Entrepreneur, Best-Selling Author, Angel Investor
Habit: Doing one thing at a time.
Besides chewing gum and breathing, or walking and talking at the same time, multi-tasking isn’t effective. It’s only useful for activities that don’t require critical thinking or problem solving.
Tim Ferris, best-selling author, angel investor, and podcaster (among other things) tries to eliminate multitasking by minimizing tasks that would be considered busywork, like checking email. Instead, he emphasizes output and working on your number one priority first thing in the morning.
But when it comes to high impact projects where critical thinking is necessary, multitasking just doesn’t work. We can’t solve a difficult multi-variable calculus equation while cooking an omelet (and if you can, I’d love to see a video).
Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
Habit: Asking for help.
Successful people know they can’t do it alone. Sir Richard Branson has gone into space and built an empire here on Earth. And he’s done it by surrounding himself with smart people, who’ve helped him achieve some very lofty goals.
As the media and airline mogul said, “Going it alone is a romantic notion but few, if any, entrepreneurs ever brought an idea to life without a lot of help.”
We are the company we keep. So by spending time with and asking for help from smart people, we begin to move toward a more successful version of ourselves.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook
Habit: Doing less.
Mark Zuckerberg built an empire in social networking with Facebook and the acquisition of Instagram. With a net worth of $33.4 billion, Zuckerberg knows a thing or two about success and getting things done.
The surprising thing was that he focused on doing less.
Take a look at Facebook. He didn’t try to build multiple social networks at once. He only worked on Facebook, which now has over a billion users, recently released a Lite version of the app, and is now expanding into media publishing.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that the more we do, the more successful we become. But while many people try to do everything and focus on more, more, more, the most successful people are doing less.
So, keep these six habits in mind. While we all won’t become successful millionaires (or billionaires) overnight, we can begin to develop similar habits that got these leaders to where they are today.