What makes someone successful?
You might think it's just in their DNA. Or maybe that people who are masters of their craft or in life were granted three wishes by a genie...
The truth is successful people are not born successful, nor do they have any special abilities that you cannot learn. The way they have grown to be masters is by learning to incorporate certain habits into their daily routines that minimize time wasted, maximize the time they have available, and systematically blend continued education into their lives.
To grow more successful yourself, try to incorporate these habits or "life hacks" into your daily routine.
1. Minimize distractions.
"It is not that we have a short time to live but that we waste a lot of it." - Seneca [click to tweet]
Being successful means understanding what your greatest asset is, and that's time. You can gain and lose everything else but time is one thing that, when it's gone, you never get back.
To maximize the amount of time you are productive, you must minimize the amount of time you aren't. This is a personality trait that all successful people have in common. However, this is easier said than done. Humans are hardwired to be distracted by stimuli and this is doubly so when in front of a computer.
In order to make the most of your day, use these two tools to cut out time-wasting activities and get your work done...
- StayFocusd: Do you constantly find yourself wandering from an important spreadsheet to sites like reddit or Digg? If so, downloading StayFocusd could save literally hours of your day. This nifty Chrome addon allows you to block known time-wasting sites for set periods of time, keeping your attention span on what you should be doing instead of procrastinating.
- News Feed Eradicator: One of the biggest time wasters on the internet is social media, specifically Facebook. Sure, you might tell yourself that you're only going to update your status but that can snowball into a thirty minute scroll through your news feed, eating up large chunks of your day. News Feed Eradicator does exactly what you might assume from the name, it completely gets rid of your news feed and replaces it with a quote to remind you that you should be working instead of browsing Facebook.
2. Exercise your mind.
"We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn." - Peter Drucker [click to tweet]
The worlds most successful individuals all have one thing in common - they love to learn. Why? The lessons learned from continued education allow you to make better decisions. And what more is life than a series of crossroads in which you must choose which direction you wish to go. By studying those that are greater and more informed than you, you have the ability to make the same decisions they would.
Continuing your education may seem hard but it isn't. The secret is to make learning enjoyable, fun, and also seamlessly work it into your day. Here are three ways to do so...
- Podcasts: Seeing a resurgence in the past few years, Podcasts have grown in both popularity and quality. What makes Podcasts a great tool for educating yourself is the versatility of its format - you can take a Podcast anywhere and learn on the go. One of the easiest ways to incorporate learning into your daily routine is to listen to a Podcast on your way to work or at the gym.
- Audiobooks: Hugely successful people will all agree, they would not be where they are without books. But in todays fast-paced world, who has time to sit down and really consume a book? Not many people. That's why audiobooks are, like Podcasts, a great way to educate yourself on the go. If you're looking to get into audiobooks, you may want to check out Audible (your first audiobook download is free).
- YouTube: It may be hard to realize but YouTube has more than just cats playing the piano. If you look beyond the funny videos, there are actually exorbitant amounts of content that will stimulate your mind. Take TED talks for example. These are "byte-sized" lectures are given by people that are masters in their craft. They range from "How to speak so that people want to listen" to "How to learn any language in six months". Most videos are only 10-15 minutes long, which makes watching even a few per day something you can easily work into your schedule.
3. Effectively prioritize.
"First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality." - Napoleon Hill [click to tweet]
Successful people are masters at prioritizing their days. At any given moment they know exactly what needs to be done to reach their next short and long-term goal. This prioritization takes shape in many ways.
First, they understand how to both set and reach goals. By starting with the end goal in mind and recognizing exactly how to accomplish it, they can create specific milestones over a period of time in which to reach it. They then prioritize how to reach each milestone, which becomes a short-term goal, helping them strive towards their long-term goal.
Second, they make prioritizing their lives a seamless process. Below are three tools you can use to help prioritize your life like a pro...
- ScheduleOnce: If your work demands that you schedule a lot of meetings, ScheduleOnce might just become your new favorite service. It works by allowing the scheduler to show which times they are available throughout the day in an effort to minimize (or even completely stop) the back and forth emails once needed to determine the best time schedule a meeting.
- Wunderlist: Successful people know that one of the easiest ways to keep your day organized is with a list. Some people choose to use the good old fashion pen and paper but if you're ready to take your "to do" list to the next level, try Wunderlist. It is a beautifully designed app that extends across various platforms (desktop, mobile, and tablet) so that you can access your list anywhere at any time.
- Zirtual: One of the best kept secrets of how all successful people keep their lives organized is... they don't - they get someone else to! Hiring a virtual assistant, such as one found on Zirtual, can be a game-changer when it comes to productivity and prioritization. Whereas you once needed to spend time on the minutia of your day (such as paying bills, travel plans, scheduling meetings) you can now focus on the most important elements of your day, to get more done.
4. Clear your mind and reflect on the day.
"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection." - Leonardo da Vinci [click to tweet]
Being successful in any capacity, be it business or personal, requires hard work. This can take a toll on your mental wellbeing. To help the mind recover and grow from the days work, successful people have trained themselves to both reflect and de-stress. These are words we don't often hear in todays world, yet they are vital to a healthy mental and emotional state.
Below are three easy ways to incorporate reflection into your daily routine...
- 5-Minute Journal: Simplicity is key in forming habits. When it comes to practicing any form of reflection, that principle reigns even truer. The 5-Minute Journal bills itself as "the simplest, most effective thing you can do everyday to be happier" and it might be right. It works by providing you with a journal template whereby you answer 3 questions about your day in the morning (What would make today great? What are you grateful for? What is your daily affirmation?) and 2 at night (What three amazing things happened today? How could I have made today better?). By spending as little as 5 minutes each day filling out the journal you will find shifting your focus to the most positive aspects of your day can dramatically improve your happiness and help you learn more from what you accomplished during the day.
- Headspace: Time and time again, the worlds most successful individuals point to meditation as the key to what keeps them centered and "recharge" their minds. Yet learning how to properly meditate and clear your mind can have a steep learning curve. That is where Headspace can help. Headspace is a guided meditation app that makes the entire process of meditating fun and easy. Just download the app and it will walk you through how to go about meditating and even track your progress.
- Go For a Walk: Every one of the worlds greatest minds - from Beethoven to Steven Jobs - took long walks. Why? A study found that participants were 60% more creative than when sitting around. Beyond this increase in creativity, walking provides you something that is well needed after working hard - a break. It is a point in the day at which you can put your work to the side and recollect your thoughts. What's best is that this activity requires no money or special training, just the ability to carve out some time for your self.
As you can see, it isn't dramatic life changes that will make you a successful person but rather various small habits and systems put in place to get the highest return on your time.
Which of these "life hacks" will you incorporate into your day? Let me know by tweeting @DanScalco or leaving a comment below!
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