Your best days are likely the ones in which you take good care of yourself while being highly productive. To make it happen, though, you need to be intentional with how you use the minutes of your day. Here are more than a dozen habits highly successful people practice to push themselves to the next level.
1. Find your purpose, refer to it, and let it guide your path.
"Knowing and following a personal, specific purpose empowers us to live with greater confidence. Having an active awareness of our purpose leads to deeper satisfaction as we readily know if a choice or task serves or takes from our purpose. Set aside time and explore your purpose. Write it down, refine it, share it, and refer to it often no matter how large or small. It doesn't have to be monumental: 'Make memories with my family,' 'provide for those I love,' 'create jobs,' 'serve others,' etc. Just be certain to make your purpose your daily mantra."
--Doug Bloom, Philadelphia chair of Tiger 21, a peer membership organization with more than 650 high-net-worth wealth creators and preservers worldwide
2. Connect with someone.
"Humans are inherently social. We've an innate desire to connect with one another--whether it is over a meal, traveling to other countries, or watching a movie together. Due to this, I make a daily effort to get out of the office (when feasible) to show up and meet interesting people as a means of identifying opportunities, striking partnerships, connecting, and learning new things. But I believe that how you show up is just as important as the act of showing up itself. You can't expect every meet-and-greet to be as simple as driving down to your local coffee shop, so I'm adamant about immersing myself in their world as well: catching a plane, meeting them in their office, [or] driving to their home. I've been fortunate enough to start and invest in numerous successful businesses because I showed up to meet someone, many of whom I was meeting for the very first time. Ultimately, relationships are what drive businesses forward, and there is no better substitute when developing a relationship than to show up."
--Adam Jiwan, founder, CEO, and Chairman at Spring Labs, a blockchain startup that raised $14.75 million in 2018
3. Practice the SAVERS habit.
"Currently, I use a process from The Miracle Morning book, by Hal Elrod. It's based on the acronym SAVERS: Silence (meditation), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribe (journal). Every morning I meditate for 10 minutes, then move into five minutes repeating my affirmations, spend five minutes doing visualization exercise (seeing your future and what you must do to attain it), read for 10 to 15 minutes, then finish with 10 minutes of journaling and preparing for my day. Being able to clear my head and focus on my goals and priorities has made my days more productive and less stressful."
--Krista Morgan, co-founder and CEO of P2Binvestor Inc., an online lending platform that has raised more than $13 million in equity
4. Get updated on industry news first thing, then work out.
"I am a creature of habit, committed to routines that keep me informed and energized. Every morning, I begin my day with a 30-minute review of my news feeds, favorite websites, and alerts. No work email yet, just an overview to get a sense of industry activity to share with my direct reports through Slack. Then I work out. As an avid mountain biker, I try to get a ride in multiple days a week (personal trainer and home gym the rest of the week), followed by a shower and breakfast. Once in the office, I exercise my Domo muscles (Domo is a business intelligence and data visualization tool). The data-driven platform gives me an early view into new issues or opportunities within my company. Together, these pre-work rituals allow me to dive into the normal course of business activities mentally and physically prepared with insights into my industry and company that keep me ahead of the curve."
--Drew Edwards, founder and CEO of Ingo Money, a provider of mobile-forward, turnkey instant deposit and payment services solutions that works with companies including Visa, PayPal, KeyBank, and Safelite
5. Clean up your inbox over the weekend.
"Email can be a huge time suck. I've found that it's best to prep my outbox over the weekend while I have some downtime. I block time on Sunday to start responding to emails and save them as drafts, so I can hit send first thing Monday morning. This helps me go into the week less stressed without dumping things on my team over the weekend. To limit time spent on email Monday through Friday, I check Apple Mail to read messages in batches every couple days. If something is urgent, my team knows I'm big on texting."
--Isaac Oates, founder and CEO of Justworks, an HR technology platform supporting more than 60,000 employees of entrepreneurs and companies in all 50 states
6. Endure short-term pain for long-term gain.
"Almost all of life's decisions, business and personal, come down to the same question: Can you accept short-term pain for long-term gain? Losing weight, firing a producing employee that is problematic elsewhere, exiting markets that are profitable but aren't your focus--all point to the same thing. Most people choose to focus on short-term gains and get long-term pain. People who want to win are willing to accept some level of professional pain to find opportunities that might elude everyone else."
--Marty Puranik, CEO of Atlantic.net, a cloud service provider serving 15,000 businesses in over 100 countries
7. Learn something new before the kids wake up.
"Every morning, before my children wake up and I get ready to leave for work, I will typically spend around 30 minutes reading the news. As I read, I make a point of researching any topic or context I'm unfamiliar with. There is something very energizing to me about starting the day with this mindset of curiosity--of learning something completely new or broadening my perspective on an issue or concept. It's important to me, before I spend the day focused on my work and company, to expand my horizons, and tune in to what is going on in the world and the reality and interests of others. I find there is often an opportunity to apply these findings and discoveries in my work, even if at first they seem far-removed."
--Jonathan Cherki, founder and CEO of ContentSquare, an AI-powered user experience analytics and optimization platform that raised $42 million in capital last year and works with companies including Walmart, GoPro, Avis, and L'Occitane
8. Live below your means.
"The great part about the human spirit is our ability to adapt to our surroundings and environment. Whether you own a billion-dollar company or work the night shift at the local gas station, I firmly believe that your future is highly dependent on your habits, today and tomorrow. Something that I always do, and would encourage everyone else to do, is take that bonus, that compensatory raise, that record-earnings year for your company, and defer the use of those funds through savings or investment. By saving or investing those funds instead of digesting them into your bank account, it may be the difference between a want today versus a future need. I encourage people of all ages to maximize their retirement contributions from annual compensation increases before doing anything with after-tax dollars."
--David Kilby, published author and president of FinFit, a financial wellness benefits company with more than 125,000 clients
9. Stop adding value.
"It is seductively soothing to be doing tasks that add value. 'Am I adding value?' is so easy to answer because almost everything you do usually adds some value. It is much harder to answer the question 'Is this the best use of my time?' To wit, it's easy to be busy improving the product but it's a lot harder to look up and realize the product is good enough already and I should be focused on finding the right distribution partner."
--Kon Leong, co-founder and CEO of ZL Technologies, an information management provider with clients spanning the Fortune 500, including half of the top 10 financial services companies
10. Read a chapter or a section out of a book, or an article.
"Studies show the more you read, the greater your chance for success. When you have an insatiable desire to learn you grow personally and professional at a faster rate. You could take one thing from the chapter or the article and implement it, and that one thing could make a huge impact in your future."
--Nicole Middendorf, author, wealth advisor, founder, and CEO of Prosperwell Financial, a financial services company with over $160 million in assets
11. Start your day with clear focus and gratitude.
"It's too easy to jump into the day's activities and lose sight of the big picture. Spend time each morning doing something that will help you grow as a person and as a leader. I start my day by reading the Bible and in meditation. Then, I listen to something positive, uplifting, and motivating while exercising and getting ready for the day. Each morning I post my top-three annual goals to the top of my calendar, where I will see them. I also share with my team three things that I feel blessed for each day."
--Robin Kocina, a Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame honoree and president/CFO of Media Relations Agency, a performance-based marketing agency
12. Make a to-do list.
"This act of writing down what needs to get done helps me feel less anxious, because the tasks seem less on paper than in my head. The list also allows me to see what is a priority or time-sensitive, and I can order what needs to be done accordingly. And crossing off an item, or deleting it, gives me this sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, even if it is just the task of dropping off a package at the post office."
--Tracey Welson-Rossman, co-founder and CMO of custom software development firm Chariot Solutions and founder of TechGirlz, a nonprofit inspiring tens of thousands of middle-school girls to pursue technology careers
13. Take time every Sunday to write out the full list of what you want to accomplish for the week.
"I consider how [these tasks] align with my bigger goals for the month or quarter, and once I've got a solid list, I draw a line on what must [be] accomplish[ed]. I try to keep that to just three things, and everything below the line can be pushed. Then I review my calendar to make sure my schedule has time carved out for me to be successful. The 30 minutes this takes on a Sunday help me manage my time and hit the ground running on Monday."
--Dave Evans, co-founder and CEO of virtual manufacturing platform Fictiv, which has raised $25 million in funding
14. Practice being humble.
"I believe that cultivating humility is crucial to success for any professional as they advance their careers and assume greater leadership in their organizations. It is equally important for growth and development in our personal lives. I try to cultivate humility every day by being present and aware--whether I'm stuck in traffic, changing my son's diaper, or apologizing for a mistake I've made. Embracing these humbling moments gives me motivation to keep learning, listening, and improving as a husband, father, son, brother, friend, colleague, leader, and human being."
--Raul Vazquez, CEO of Oportun, named one of Time magazine's 2018 "50 Genius Companies Inventing the Future" for its work providing over 2 million small-dollar loans, which have saved its customers more than $1.3 billion
15. Seek out tough feedback.
"I make a point to connect over coffee daily (or weekly) with people on my team who aren't my direct reports. I always ask them to tell me something they don't think I want to hear, whether it's a challenge they're facing, or something about the business that they're concerned about. Not only does this give me an opportunity to see inside parts of the organization that I might not see every day, and a unique perspective and understanding of the complexity of their day-to-day, but also gives me a new way to think about where my help and leadership can make the most impact. It has repeatedly broken down barriers and opened up the lines of communications across our organization."
--Jennifer Tescher, president and CEO of the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), a nonprofit that brings together hundreds of financial institutions, employers,
innovators, and policy makers
16. Write out your to-do list early in the morning.
"I watch the sunrise, have a cup of coffee, and write out the list of all meetings and tasks for the day. I do this every day with paper and pens, and sometimes in different colors."
--Dede Gotthelf, owner of the Southampton Inn, which has received several Best of the Best awards from Hamptons publication Dan's Papers
17. Keep a detailed calendar while looking back at this time last year.
"I maintain a detailed calendar each day of the week, and keep copies of my schedule for at least a year. Each week, I review the prior year's calendar to see what projects I was working on and whom I was meeting with around the same time the year before. This process gives me a 360-degree perspective on how I progressed on those projects, what projects I need to complete or restart, and reminds me to reconnect with specific people. Looking back at what I was doing the year before helps me stay on top of important projects and professional relationships."
--William T. Sullivan, executive director of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF), which has increased philanthropic revenue by 30 percent since 2017