High achievement in business and life involves intention. Meaning, it's not going to happen accidentally. Here are the things more than a dozen successful executives do every day because they say it's a habit that makes a difference.

1. Say no without saying sorry.

"Make choices about how you're going to spend your time and who you're going to spend your time with. Create a histogram with yourself in the center, and put the people with whom you spend the most time closest to you. Put those you spend the least time with farther away. Who gives you positive energy? Who drains you? Have the courage to stop spending time with people who aren't net positive for you."

--Lorna Borenstein, CEO of Grokker, a digital B2B wellness video content platform that works with Pinterest, eBay, Survey Monkey, Aetna, Albertson's, Biltmore Hotel and Blackberry with hundreds of thousands of users in 172 countries

2. Take the pain out of internal communication.

"I am a firm email unbeliever. I work with several teams at my company and it takes a lot of time to go through my inbox to find the action items I need to address. Additionally, email chains can get unwieldy and it's difficult to respond in real time. Slack has been a lifesaver in streamlining communication across the company. The tool's ability to communicate in private threads or team channels allows me to respond in a timely, organized manner. Also, I'm a big fan of the Meeting Bot application. It allows others to grab time on my calendar without having to contact me."

--Adam Hatch is the CMO of FPX, a company that simplifies the buying and selling experience for B2B companies, working with customers including Honeywell, Bell Helicopter, Daimler, Airbus and Fujitsu with 98 percent customer retention each year

3. Streamline your day by limiting information overload.

"I'm a big believer in blocking distractions. With the exception of WhatsApp, I have no notification enabled on my phone. I block news websites on my work computer and try to check email only a couple times a day. And I also meditate each morning. This not only helps keep me sane and is great for my mental health but keeps me in a productive mindset and helps me make sure I'm prioritizing the right things and not getting lost in the details."

--PJ Bouten, CEO of Showpad, a sales and marketing success platform which recently received $25 million in funding and opened a new office in Chicago to accelerate global growth

4. Wake up 20 minutes earlier.

"Mornings never seem to go as planned for me and there are always the inevitable surprises that delay and distract me. Sometimes it's one of my teenagers who needs last minute help with homework, or a 911 email from a client, or even something as simple as a wardrobe crisis because I didn't get to the cleaners. Many days I find myself flying out the door with no breakfast, without giving proper goodbye hugs to my family, and the only thing on my mind is praying I'll have time to grab a coffee on my way. One practice that dramatically shifts the morning craze is to wake up 15 to 20 minutes earlier. I've grown fond of having a warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar upon waking up, followed by a healthy green drink. I love those early mornings, before everyone is up, when I can quietly catch up on the news, look at the emails that came in overnight, and mentally prepare for meetings with clients, my team and whatever else is on my schedule that day. The extra 20 minutes is a game-changer to starting my workday off right."

--Abby Curnow Chavez, author of The Loyalist Team: How Trust, Candor, and Authenticity Create Great Organizations and partner in the leadership consulting firm Trispective Group, which has clients including Equinix, PetSmart, Orbitz, Hitachi and Avon 

5. Change up your commute.

"After moving closer to my office, I replaced my 30-mile (each way) car commute with a four-mile bike ride. It adds some physical activity into each day, helps me feel sharper and more productive and is a good way to decompress at the end of the day as opposed to getting stressed out in the car. I find that I arrive both at work and at home in a better mood."

--Andy Powell, cofounder and CEO of CallRail, a provider of call tracking and analytics to more than 80,000 companies and marketing agencies in North America

6. Intentionally keep tabs on what's happening in the world.

"Whether you're reading about developments in politics, technology, culture or climate, it'll help keep you focused on doing work that matters. For me, it underscores the importance of keeping our company and products relevant on a global stage and allows me to anticipate what we must do for the future."

--Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas, a text-based interviewing platform used by companies to screen tens of thousands of candidates looking for positions ranging from machinists and welders to software engineers, sales professionals, physical therapists, nurses, pilots, and more

7. Start your day with a simple routine.

"Do something to jump-start your day, like reading or meditating, that allows you to start fresh and let go of the previous day's failures. Getting yourself into the right mindset each morning and being present throughout the day will help set you up for future success and allow you to give 110 percent."

--Scott Moorehead, CEO of five companies, including TCC, a nationwide Verizon Authorized Retailer with revenue which has grown 1,400 percent (from $137.4 million to more than $2 billion) since he took over the company in 2008

8. Achieve one goal each day.

"Being a business owner, one of the most important factors for success is your ability to meet both short- and long-term benchmarks. From personal goals to sales goals, maintaining a growth mindset and achieving at least one goal each day will help you feel more accomplished and on track for your path to success."

--Amir Rashid, cofounder and owner of Fishers Imports, a luxury car dealer who has grown the company's sales by nearly 4,000 percent (from $864,000 to $35 million) over the past five years

9. Tend to your crops.

"Start each morning by walking around the office to get a feel for how things are going. Check in on the moods, activity, and energy of your employees. I almost see it as a farmer walking through the fields. If I just head to my office and then out again without making a pass through a department or two, I'm convinced that I'll miss something important."

--Justin Tysdal, cofounder and CEO of Seven Corners Inc., an international travel insurance and specialty benefit management company servicing more than 800,000 customers a year, including international travelers, U.S. government agencies, corporations, foreign governments and insurance companies

10. Order lunch in as a team.

"As a startup, we're lucky if our employees make time to warm up leftovers for lunch. Rather than living off of office snacks or eating the scraps that are left from last night's soggy dinner, our team makes a conscious effort to take a break, order lunch in, and bond as a team. By group ordering, we've been able to remain focused during our afternoons, lessening the derailment problem you might see when everyone leaves for lunch and can't get back on track once they return. Not only does our team stay fed, but some of our best ideas have come from our time around the lunch table together."

--Chris Baggot, CEO of ClusterTruck, a delivery restaurant that brings people high-quality food wherever they are, achieving 50,000 paying customers within the last year, an annual increase of 194 percent

11. Marry creative thinking with data-driven perspectives.

"As a creative thinker, I've reflexively shied away from spreadsheets because of the assumption that data is stifling. The more I work with talented data scientists, though, the more I find that data is actually a spring of inspiration. I once turned away from data for fear of the unknown, but those same numbers are now proving to be a wonderful source of insight and realization. I take a few moments every day to review the data important to the story our team needs to tell and craft creative solutions that have purpose in the real world. These stories are often more engaging and practical than if I were to write a story and fit the numbers in later or leave them out completely."

--Murph Krajewski, VP of marketing for Sharpen Technologies, a contact center platform deployed in 14 global regions, serving millions of omni-channel interactions to 300 global clients

12. Sleep first, then decide.

"George Patton once said, 'Fatigue makes cowards of us all,' which I have learned is 100 percent accurate. It's amazing how our tiredness can affect the decisions we make. After working long, hard days--nights and weekends included--it's so easy to forget how drastically different our minds operate when fatigued. More often than not, the decision I would have made the night before is the complete opposite of what I decide in the morning. So, when pushing your mind and body to achieve critical milestones for your business or a life goal, remember to take advantage of the evenings. Find an outlet to free your mind and then sleep. No important decisions should be made when you are tired. Just force yourself to sleep on it, wake up and then take action. A rested mind and clear conscience will help you make the right decision and ready to tackle the new day."

--Kevin MacCauley, founder and CEO of Upper Hand, a cloud-based sports management software and business service which last year grew its user base by more than 125 percent, revenue 165 percent, with payments made through the platform up 14-fold

13. Know what's a glass ball vs. a rubber ball.

"I learned this phrase from some past female mentors. Essentially, know which balls will bounce when you drop them, and which will break. As a mom of three kids who has a big job, I have to know what's a glass ball versus a rubber ball. Thus, we have dinner as a family together seven nights a week, but my kids know I will never go on field trips or be the class parent, much less bake for the bake sale."

--Tina Hsiao, COO of WePay, a Chase company that provides integrated payments processing to online platforms which works with more than 1,000 platforms including Constant Contact, GoFundMe, and Meetup to incorporate payments

14. Problem solve out of the office.

"I find that I solve the most difficult business problems out of the office, when I give my brain a break whether that's at night, while I'm running or on the ski slope. When facing a tough business challenge, go get some fresh air and exercise. It will help clear your head and allow you to reset your focus and intention on a certain challenge.  You will be amazed at the fresh perspectives and solutions that come in result."

--Victoria Treyger, chief revenue officer for Kabbage, a global financial services, technology and data platform serving small businesses which has raised more than $1.6 billion in funding and lent out $4 billion overall

15. Demonstrate extreme focus and obsessive consistency.

"I drop my kids off at 8:15 a.m., sharp. I get to work at 8:30 a.m., sharp. Then, I don't sit down, stop working for lunch, or socialize until at least 2:30 p.m. In those six hours I am 100 percent dialed in from my standing desk and get more done than most people do in a 16-hour day. I also wear nearly the same thing to work every day as to avoid figuring it out (something I learned presidents and executives like Mark Zuckerberg do, as well). I wear a black t-shirt, gray shorts and red running shoes 98 percent of the time.

--Chris Smith, a USA Today bestselling author of The Conversion Code and the cofounder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company which has grown to over $10 million in annual, recurring revenue, and the company is currently one of Inc.'s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America

16. Start every meeting with "good morning."

"I start all my meetings with 'good morning,' even if it is late in the afternoon. It's a way to reset myself and bring all the energy and attention required. Also, I don't bring my laptop to meetings unless it is required. I take notes and draw in a sketch book to document the meeting not only with words, but with drawings representing ideas and even feelings. It adds more dimensions to the notes, I pay more attention, and I find that people respond really well to it."

--Luis Garcia, general manager of Full Sail Labs, an educational experience with courses both in the classroom and online which was recognized last year as an Apple Distinguished School for its innovative use of Apple hardware and software in its curriculum to empower students to create content and tell their stories 

Published on: Mar 28, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.