Are successful people more likely to be early-birds or night-owls? Do they have lots of good connections in their network, or a few, high-quality ones? Are there certain times of day successful people are more productive than others?
These questions kept our team up at night, so we connected with productivity and success expert Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work. She shared her insights on what the world’s most successful people do to keep their productivity levels high.
Do as they do if you’d like to capture some of the success they’ve achieved.
Inspiyr: What are some things successful people do differently at work?
Laura: I find that people who are successful over the long haul have a habit of investing their hours in activities that will bear returns down the road. They work to improve their skills; they work at building up their career capital and connections. They think about where they’re trying to go rather than blindly bouncing along based on whatever has shown up in their inboxes.
The good news is that doing these things repeatedly really does have an impact.
Related Article: Success and Failure, What’s the Difference?
What are the most important things people can do to improve productivity?
The best first step to spending your time better is to get a grip on how you’re spending it now. Try keeping track of your time for a day or two — or better yet, a full week (168 hours). You’ll start to see what times are your most productive, and when you have a tendency to lose focus.
Once you know this, you can start planning your most important work for your productive times, and plan your breaks at lower energy times. These steps alone can light a fire in your career.
Related Article: Set Your Goals, The First Step to Success
Do early birds really get the worm?
Unfortunately for night owls, the answer is usually yes. Our world is set up for early risers. You may be brilliant at 2 a.m., but if your boss still expects you to show up at work at 8 a.m., you won’t be able to honor that brilliance properly. And even if you don’t have a boss, you might have kids who need to be at the bus stop at 7:30.
Fortunately, most of us aren’t confirmed night owls. We’re somewhere between lark and owl. You can get a lot done by developing habits that reward your lark side. Go to bed on time, get up on time, and seize those morning hours for what matters to you.
What is the biggest productivity drains people should avoid?
The biggest productivity drain is not thinking through how you want to spend your time before it happens. Sure, Facebook or Twitter eat a few minutes here and there, but you can lose hours if you don’t know what you want to accomplish by the end of the day.
Successful people create regular times to plan and think through their schedules. Sure, life comes up. But having a rough road map helps you get where you’re going.
Dan Cassidy is CEO and Founder of Inspiyr.com, a personal growth site helping people be healthy, happy, and successful. A confirmed self-improvement junkie, Dan is a former collegiate athlete, personal trainer, and advertising executive.
Originally published May 6 2013 and updated May 5 2014.
Featured photo by Victor1558