It's tempting to think that most successful people are luckier, smarter or in some way different from the rest of us. In truth, they're likely just more disciplined. Ask the highest achieving people you know their secret for getting lots of things done every day, and most likely they'll point to simple daily routines which they religiously repeat day after day. Here are some habits 18 executives say help them to be productive, creative and on-point.
1. Get out of your box.
"The best ideas often come from unexpected places. I decided a long time ago that it just makes sense to look in those unexpected places. So, each day I look to connect what most people won't connect. Can a blog about avocados help with a strategic dilemma in a data software company? Sometimes...and when it does, it is awesome. Challenge yourself to read something unexpected, watch more TED talks, subscribe to that wacky podcast, or, how about putting down your phone and talking to that Uber driver? My best thinking and most meaningful ideas come from making time each day to find something where nobody else is looking."
--Chris Powell, CMO for Commvault, a $2.5 billion publicly traded data software company, and someone who recently joined polar explorer, Robert Swan, in an expedition to the South Pole, the first to rely solely on renewable energy
2. Use the chip on your shoulder to fuel the fire.
"Like many people, I carry around a chip on my shoulder along with the insecurities associated with it. Each day, I try to be aware of that chip and be mindful every time it attempts to manifest itself as insecurity. I strive to continue learning how to sharpen it as a tool of constant positive energy. This practice gives me fuel for the fire even when things are going well and ultimately is what helps me disrupt the status quo and continually push myself to new heights."
--Sudheesh Nair, CEO of search and AI analytics company ThoughtSpot, which helps business users at hundreds of global enterprises answer millions of data questions
3. Thank the person nobody else does.
"It's no secret that we all live extremely busy lives and have tight schedules to keep. Even so, entrepreneurs should hold themselves to a higher standard and realize that because they're in a position of authority, they need to act like leaders 100 percent of the time (even if it doesn't matter at all). Whether it be the garbage workers who pick up your trash as you hop into your car, or the toll booth attendant that's robotically waving you through, or your child's crossing guard, bus driver, or even the person who serves you coffee off a truck, taking the time to thank that person creates a persona around you that's difficult to replicate. You'll never cease to be amazed by the amount of smiles and you're welcomes you'll receive, while also receiving preferential treatment should you ever be in a pinch. Not to mention, humans are creatures of habit so if somebody is in the same place as you at the same time, you're more than likely to meet them again and this time, they'll remember you."
--Josh Segal, founder and CEO of Adloop, an ad-tech platform that uses location behavior to create, target, and analyze audiences and has been used by thousands of companies including Land Rover, Cisco, Jaguar, Eaze and MedMen
4. Check social media.
"Each morning I check the individual social media accounts for each of my brands... as well as my personal page. Any successful CEO must understand the power of social media. Reviewing the organic engagement on my various Instagram pages and other social media platforms gives me insight into the sentiment of the public at any given moment."
--Jay Morrison, two-time author and founder of two eight-figure businesses, the Jay Morrison Academy which was included on Inc.'s 2018 list of Fastest Growing Companies and the Tulsa Real Estate Fund, an African American-founded real estate crowdfund which raised over $10 million its first month
"I practice dermatology at least two days a week, do product formulating and education at our business, and try to stay very tied into the lives of our four children and two grandkids. A lot of things come up each day. The way I thrive with the many to-dos on my list is to spend some time prioritizing at the start of each day. For example, getting back to each and every patient about their skin biopsy results is something I do personally and takes a very high priority to be turned around nearly on the spot. When it comes to business decisions, I find it is often best to let things ruminate for a day or two after I've gathered the necessary information. When it comes to personal life and family, this has been the highest priority, remembering that for me family is the reason for my being, so I try to talk with our children, ages 29 to 37, at least every other day."
--Loretta Ciraldo, MD, founder of CosMedical Technologies, which makes private label skincare for approximately 1,000 cosmetic practices and cofounder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, a curated retail skincare line that launched in 2018 and is available online and at selected boutiques and major retailers
6. Meditate and exercise.
"Owning a business, and raising money specifically always comes with its share of stress. Your job as a founder is to keep your cool and stay laser focused. I changed a lot of my habits during this time. I started meditating every day with Headspace, running three times a week with 5K Runner, and working with Endel in my headphones. The latter is my latest and coolest discovery. It's this incredibly advanced app that creates tailor made sounds that help you focus as you work. It's based on your pulse, calendar, time of day, weather, and many other factors."
--Jonathan Keren, founder and CEO of Maapilim, a direct-to-consumer male grooming wellness brand, focusing on Mediterranean oils which recently received $4 million in funding to help grow its presence in the U.S.
"Experience has taught me what happens when I don't go for a run in the morning, and that is I just don't feel as centered or have as much clarity for quick decision making as those days when I do run, so now it's a must. I've always been a runner, so that's my go-to place to calm down and organize my thoughts to clear my head, but there are many others ways to achieve this. You've just got to find your go-to place and head there every day."
--Ben Young, founder and CEO of Australian brand frank green, designers and creators of the multi award-winning reusable and insulated coffee cups and bottles available in over 40 countries worldwide
8. Inhale essential oils.
"When I feel myself getting distracted, I will spray a room spray or take a whiff of an essential oil like clary sage or peppermint that helps me focus. To me, smell is the best way to pull me back to the present moment. My love of scents is how I went down the path in the first place and it definitely buoys me back up when I need it."
--Jana Blankenship, founder and CEO of Captain Blankenship, a clean beauty company with products available nationwide at retailers including Target, Credo, Follain, Sephora, Anthropologie and The Detox Market
9. Set your intentions for the day before leaving the house.
"Get up with at least two hours before departure time. If you have kids, or other people you take care of in the mornings, give yourself at least an hour alone, of total silence and focus. The whole 'oxygen mask' metaphor couldn't be more accurate. Make sure you've eaten, had your caffeine if necessary, think about what you are going to accomplish today. While I'm in the shower, after I've had my tea and breakfast, I set my intentions for the day. Organizing myself mentally for the day ahead, I review tasks that need to happen, notes I need to send, things that need to be delegated. I come out of the shower refreshed and ready to update notes in my calendar, feeling great about my pre-game planning. I find that knowing tasks in advance is always better than being inundated with yesterday's task list. Let the information inform you, not overwhelm you."
--Michael Carbaugh, founder and CEO of Sandoval, a natural fragrance studio, working with retailers like goop, Le Bon Marche, and Nordstrom, who has grown his business from the ground up, increasing profits 400 percent in the last three years
10. Categorize and limit to-do lists to only essentials.
"Every day there are things I need to do and things I should do. When the lines blur, I can find myself spending my time and energy on something that isn't as imperative overall. To streamline my focus, I separate my to-do lists into 'need' and 'should', and when the time is limited, only focus on the 'need' column. By concentrating my attention on only the things I need to do, I am able to apply my entire focus and dedication on the moving parts that matter more in the long haul.
--Mihail Kamburov, communications advisor at XMaterials, a building materials startup streamlining construction and infrastructure that closed over $2 million in revenue in its inaugural year of operation
11. Read the news and skim social media right after you wake up.
"I get my news and social media grazing done when I am waking up and still bleary-eyed. That way, I'm matching the available brainpower to what's required to sift through a bunch of different information, saving heavier mental lifting for the office. It also means that I am up to speed and briefed as to what's going on in the world before I start the day in earnest, and that I can ponder the more interesting stuff while I exercise in the morning. I do get up very early though, which means that I have to go to bed very early too."
--Alastair Adam, co-CEO of FlatWorld, a publisher of affordable and high-quality college textbooks used by more than 4,000 professors across the U.S.
12. Handle one task at a time.
"While multitasking can seem attractive, one of the most important aspects of my daily routine is to only focus on one task at at time. Whether it's mornings at home or busy days in the office, I avoid doing multiple things at once because it depletes my overall attention to detail, and ends up costing more time in the long run. Rather than spreading myself thin on many tasks simultaneously, I dedicate my focus to one item at a time, which helps me be more efficient and productive with my time."
--Rachel Puri, RN, MA, cofounder and COO of LINA, a medical coworking brand operating in Lower Manhattan with four new locations opening in 2019
13. Remain calm regardless of what's happening.
"Whether it's the morning traffic on the way into the office or a critical end-of-quarter meeting, I approach every situation with a cool head. We're in a highly dynamic and regulated industry; maintaining calm ensures me and the entire team maintain a clear vision about what's important. It takes constant reminders and daily practice to maintain a level attitude regardless what the day throws at me. When I am calm, I can better focus on solutions rather being distracted by impulsive reactions. Exercise and mindfulness help the constant application of a calm mind so that no matter what my day brings, I can approach solutions unflustered."
--Gabriel Ettenson, cofounder and president of Elixinol, one of the largest distributors of CBD oil worldwide retailing in 40 countries with roughly 110 percent year-over-year revenue growth in the past year
14. Spread yourself as thin as possible.
"A lot of my mentors have always told me not to spread myself too thin and to focus on one thing at a time. But after experiencing the rollercoaster ride of starting and growing a high-risk business for over 10 years, I truly believe you should spread yourself as thin as possible. I have yet to see a single project take off from the start and complete without any hiccups. My unorthodox advice is to take on as many projects as you can and even run multiple roles so you can give yourself extra lives and see things from different angles. You're most likely going to fail at a lot of things so you should never put all your eggs into one basket."
--Michael Yum, cofounder and CEO of PM Studios, a videogame studio with over 20 titles that include award-winning hits like "DJMAX" for PlayStation and "Technika" for Arcades to celebrity-branded mobile games like "Chef Curry featuring Stephen and Ayesha Curry" and "Just Skate with Justin Bieber"
15. Treat everyone like family.
"To me, family is everything. I grew up in a close-knit family in Jamaica, and I now have a family of my own on the island. No matter how crazy the day gets, I make a point of tucking my kids in every night when I'm home. I apply the way I treat my own family to my family business. Cultivating a family feel amongst colleagues, staff and, in my case, resort guests has moved mountains when it comes to growth opportunities, a happy workforce and bottom line. So, my advice is to be on the front lines. Don't stay locked in an office. Forge personal relationships with as many colleagues, employees, customers, clients and guests as you can. Go about your day amongst the people who are the heart and soul of your business. Visit the construction site, the factory, the warehouse. Allow your core values to translate into your work, and you'll find that every day's a beach."
--Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International, the family-owned parent company of brands including Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, with five brands and 24 properties in seven countries across the Caribbean
16. Lean on the ecosystem around you.
"I, like so many others, feel the need to be a human super hero of sorts whether it's in the office or at home. But the reality is that I have 24 hours to work with in a day, and only one me. Between juggling a career and my family life, the one thing that has helped me find balance is leaning on the ecosystem around me. From colleagues, clients and partners, to family members and friends, banking on and trusting in my network has not only made my days easier, it has made my work better, and my life richer. Don't go it alone. Ask for help when you need it, tap your team to meet hard deadlines, and make yourself a resource to others so they can be resources to you in return."
--Ginger Siegel, North America small business lead for Mastercard, a technology company in the global payments industry spanning 210 countries and territories
17. Take time daily to acknowledge great work and failures alike.
"Success in work and life is very much determined by your ability to learn from both accomplishments and failures. Every day, I take the time to acknowledge the great work that my teams are doing, which can come in the form of a quick conversation, a personal email, a mention in a company meeting, or a post on social media. I also highlight projects that may not have been successful, while noting the lessons we learned from the failure. This practice of giving daily feedback isn't just reserved for leaders--it's something that people can do at any level of the organization. If you're an entry-level employee, for example, you can take a few minutes daily to acknowledge successes of your peers and managers. I believe this daily routine is important not just because it will help our company grow, but because it will help all of our employees experience more success."
--Vik Verma, CEO of 8x8, a cloud provider of voice, video, collaboration and contact center solutions for over one million users worldwide
18. Never stop asking why.
"I'm a big believer that the best ideas for helping organizations thrive don't come from any one person, but from a group of people working together to refine and elaborate their ideas. That's why every day I encourage the people I work with to ask each other 'why?' For decisions big and small, I want everyone to feel comfortable debating ideas, regardless of their title or position in the organization."
--Jodi Goldstein, executive director of Harvard Innovation Labs, a university innovation center founded in 2011 that's helped mentor more than 1,200 startups, which have collectively raised more than $1 billion in funding