Imagine that 2019 is the year when you break through whatever barriers are keeping you from being the best version of yourself. Likely, though, it will mean you need to make some changes and put forth an amount of effort. Take some ideas from more than a dozen high achievers who are dead-set on getting ahead in business and life.
1. Exercise every morning
"I find time every morning to hit the gym. You will be amazed at how well it prepares your mind and body for the day. This will help you establish a consistent and productive routine that will positively carry over into your personal and business life. I find this routine to be vital to a healthy lifestyle and a clear mind for the day."
--Eric Diamond, founder and CEO of Tribeca Digital, a digital agency that has raised more than $2 million in private funding, and works with top brands like Sesame Workshop and Wyndham Worldwide
2. Say no
"At the beginning of each year, we set three big things that we want to focus on and accomplish as a company. There are so many exciting opportunities that come across my desk each day. With each opportunity, the first question I ask myself is 'Will this directly impact one of those three things?' If it doesn't, then my time is better spent elsewhere."
--Russell Saks, founder and CEO of Campus Protein, a platform for college students to purchase protein, vitamins, and other supplements, with a presence on more than 300 college campuses across the country and 1,500 sales representatives
3. Start the day by ingesting green nutrients
"First thing in the morning, I try to get my daily dose of Athletic Greens or another greens-based supplement and hit the gym. Nutrients are better absorbed if taken on an empty stomach. After the gym, I usually take a quick post-workout snack such as a protein bar and some lemon water to power me through the morning until lunch. After lunch, I drink one cup of coffee, which is what helps me get through the afternoon and stay productive throughout the day."
--Davis Siksnans, co-founder and CEO of Printful, a print-on-demand drop shipping company that has printed more than 8.5 million items worth more than $200 million
4. Eliminate the word if from your vocabulary
"As a woman in the male-dominated spirits industry, I learned that my words were indeed as mighty as a sword. This meant that my language, whether verbal or written, had to be more direct, precise, and goal-oriented in order to achieve objectives. Being trained as a lawyer, I believe in editing, and this brought my attention to how often I used the words if and could rather than when and will. Words shape mindset, and so I soon reprogrammed my grammar, and the results were evident. Surprisingly, I have noticed that not only eliminating these words in business is impactful, but eradicating them from my communications with my 5-year-old have been incredibly useful. I no longer use if to begin a sentence and issue a threat to my son of potential consequences. We speak of concrete rules with attending repercussions. This has helped him to understand that mommy's words have meaning and that she never breaks her word. This is exactly how I run my business."
--Lizzie Asher, president of Macchu Pisco, a global pisco (liquor) company that has grown organically 25 percent annually since it was founded in 2006
5. Swap out emails for face-to-face time
"It's easy to get caught waiting on emails while decision making. I make it a point every day, rather than waiting for an email, to swap out one email chain for a face-to-face meeting. Our offices have an open workspace, and the entire purpose is collaboration, but I sometimes forget to take advantage of it. Making at least one decision in person every day not only helps get an answer faster, it also allows me to do some very valuable networking among and outside my team."
--Olinda Hassan, partner in the strategy and innovation team at Twitter, where she leads Asia Pacific customer experience strategy for more than 300 million global users
6. Silence your phone
"Even when my schedule gets jam-packed, I find time every day to step aside so I can let go of the worries of the day and think about the bigger picture. The most important thing about this time is really unplugging, so my phone goes on silent while I focus on concentrating on the larger vision. When I have a major strategy decision coming up, I often turn these moments into a long walk through the city streets to think through all the possibilities. Regularly getting out of my usual headspace is crucial to remain balanced and focused on the work ahead."
--Vicrum Puri, MA, LEED AP, co-founder and CEO of LINA, a medical co-working brand operating in New York City with four new locations opening in 2019
7. Keep a folder titled "awesome emails"
"The majority of the emails in the folder are not revenue milestones or awards, but emails from my team and our customers who have shared how their lives changed for the better because of our work. I make it a habit to read a few of these every day, because they serve as an important reminder that how I lead affects people. Every day is an opportunity to make an impact."
--Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, a sales engagement platform with more than 22,000 users ranked for the second year as a "Fastest Growing Company" by Deloitte
8. Reach out to contacts
"As an executive, there are far too many daily high-level priorities to juggle. To make this manageable, I divide my priorities into groups: growth (customers, partners, channels), investors, employees, and personal or industry relationships. While certain groups may not be as important as others on a given day, I make it a point to revisit these groups and attend to them at some point each day by proactively reaching out to various contacts. Most executives make the mistake of only reaching out to their contacts when a need arises, which is opportunistic and, in most cases, too late."
--Alex Shubat, CEO and co-founder of Espresa, an employee programs automation platform used by companies including Tesla, Pinterest, Okta, Pandora, and Workday
9. Banish electronics from the bedroom
"I find that my days are more productive when I take my electronic products out of the bedroom at bedtime, including my iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. The alerts can be helpful during the day, but at night any type of light, including even an LED alarm clock, disrupts the sleep rhythm. After hearing a sleep presentation from a well-known doctor on the effects light has on melatonin, I have subscribed to the 'going dark' thesis to create happier nights, which, in turn, create more productive days."
--Chuck Davis, chairman and CEO of Prodege, an internet and media company that has given away more than $589 million to its members
10. Avoid meetings and social media
"I heard it once quoted that when celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz was asked about the people she'd photographed, she said one thing they all had in common was that they worked hard. There are many aspects to success in life, but the importance of daily hard work can never be underestimated. Prioritize timely communication. I continue to be amazed that some of the busiest and most successful people I know generally return emails within a few hours. But whether it is email, a phone call, or a text communication, the quicker you can provide a substantive response (and not just lob it back over the fence) to somebody, the better. Avoid distractions. It is so easy to fall into the trap of wasting time with fun or interesting activities, but this comes at a cost. Posting or viewing social media can consume endless hours of time, so personally I completely avoid it. Keep structured meetings to a minimum. It is possible to have so many routine structured meetings in the day that there simply isn't time to get any real work done. My office door is generally open and I'm available for folks to stop by unannounced, to deal with issues in real time, but I prefer to limit the number of daily formal planned meetings. Otherwise, you end up having meetings to discuss meetings."
--Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, a network benchmarking, analysis, and testing company that works with wireless network providers, uses testing vans to drive around the country to test mobile networks, and has driven more than 12 million data collection miles for its customers
11. Drive in silence
"Driving in complete silence is a habit of mine that I find to be hugely important. I believe many can relate to feeling constantly busy during their days, so I use this time to clear my mind and organize my thoughts. While driving, I find that I am captive in my mind without distractions or interruptions to pull me away from thinking, and I have found inspiration for some of my best ideas this way."
--Steve Fusco, president of Rewards Network, a restaurant finance and marketing provider that has been used by more than 90,000 restaurants
12. Go to bed before 9 p.m.
"There's that old adage about early to bed and early to rise making you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Especially for the wealthy part, there's a belief that you have to burn the midnight oil to move the company forward. I go to bed quite early, often even [as early as] 8:00 p.m. Then I wake up early, meditate, and exercise, and make a healthy smoothie to start my day. I also nourish my spirit by playing with my son when he rises. Eight and a half hours of sleep per night is my secret to success, which is uncommon for CEOs, at least the way in which they're perceived."
--David Hassell, co-founder and CEO of 15Five, an employee performance management solution used by companies such as Spotify, Indeed, and HubSpot
13. Use the Five Minute Journal app
"I use the Five Minute Journal app every morning to set my intentions for the day and every evening to list the three things that I'm grateful that I accomplished, so I always feel a sense of being grounded and that I am still getting things done even with a busy family and work schedule."
--Andee Harris, president of YouEarnedIt/HighGround, an employee experience platform that partners with more than 500 global organizations and supports hundreds of thousands of end users
14. Start work two hours earlier than everyone else
"The first two hours of my day make all the difference, as I'm already in the game by 6 a.m., talking with clients across the nation and in Europe before heading to the office to work with my leadership team. Getting ahead of the day by developing a comprehensive plan and tactical agenda before the chaos of 9 to 5 starts is how I accomplish my daily tasks."
--Edward Fields, CEO of DionyMed Brands, a data-centric cannabis brands, distribution, and logistics platform with wholesale and direct-to-consumer delivery that serves more than 750 dispensaries and 40,000 consumers each month
15. Do the task you're dreading first
"We procrastinate the tasks we wish we didn't need to address until they pile up to the point where it causes us nothing but grief and anxiety. In that case, get such a task done first. What is the one thing you've got on your plate that you wish you didn't have to do today? Mark it down and start your day getting that particular task done. Clearing the uncomfortable tasks off your list clears the path for getting everything else done efficiently and leaves you feeling good at the end of each day."
--Prad Sekar, co-founder and CEO of CB2 Insights, a medical data analytics company that over the past three years has grown to more than 180 employees and is operating in over 14 jurisdictions around the world
16. Make your bed
"Start each day early with the completion of one task, even something as mundane as making your bed. That sense of accomplishment, however small, enables you to accomplish tasks of greater importance as the day progresses. If you live within a 30-minute walk to your office, walk to work. It is highly worthwhile. It may sound simple, but it is very meditative and helps you organize your thoughts and goals for the day. At the end of the day, walk home and reflect on your accomplishments."
--Alexander Somjen, president and CEO of Resinco Capital Partners, a global investment company deploying capital in a sector with a projected compound annual growth rate of 18 percent and specializing in providing early-stage financing to private and public companies as well as medical marijuana pharmaceutical companies