More rules for working smarter …

Over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs were asked a simple open-ended question:

“What is your number one secret to productivity?”


So, what were their answers?


According to Dr. Travis Bradbury, channeling researcher Kevin Kruse, here are a couple of the Critical Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day …..


They focus on only one thing at a time. Ultra-productive people identify their Most Important Task (MIT)” and work on it for one to two hours without interruptions or distractions (like the TV playing in the background).

See our prior post “Multitasking makes me more productive” … oh, really?


They use schedules, not to-do lists. Only 41% of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them.

So, throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar.


They calibrate their schedules in minutes, not hours or days. There is nothing more valuable than time, so highly successful people consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (including family time, exercise, and giving back), and then they stick to the schedule.


They say “no” to almost everything, delegate most of the rest and do what’s left “good enough”. Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don’t give them away easily.

Follow Pareto’s 80/20 rule, always ask yourself “Who besides me can do it?” and accept that in many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.


They touch things only once. How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail—a bill perhaps—and then put it down, only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an e-mail and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later?

Highly successful people try to “touch it once.” If it takes less than five or ten minutes—whatever it is — they deal with it right then and there.

This strategy reduces stress, since the issue won’t be in the back of their minds, and it is more efficient, since you won’t have to re-read, re-initialize or re-evaluate the item again when you get back to it.

As a former boss used to tell me (repeatedly): “I pay you for finished goods, not work-in-process.”


They periodically (not continuously) process e-mails. Ultra-productive people don’t “check” their e-mail throughout the day. They don’t respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox.

Instead, they schedule specific blocks of time to process their e-mails quickly and efficiently (within the scheduled time limit).

Many avoid emails first thing in the morning since that’s often high productivity time and last thing at night since that either delays sleep time or risks inducing sleep arresting stress.


They don’t reply more than twice to an email. Email isn’t meant for conversations.

So, they either pick up the phone or handle the subject face-to-face.


They keep 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!”

Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.


Have a (more) productive day …


Thanks to MES for feeding the lead.



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