Want to be more productive during your day or week? Do what some of the world's most successful people do to gain an edge and get the most out of a day.
But if following the advice of a Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, or Bill Gates isn't your cup of tea, consider following the advice of science. It has been telling us the best tricks to become more productive for decades, and you don't even have to wake up at that ungodly hour of 4 a.m.!
While some things are out of our control when it comes to managing our day, there are things within our control that may just transform how we perform our work -- while giving back our lives.
1. Get on the same page before a meeting
Jack Dorsey co-founded one of the most connective social media platforms out there: Twitter. It's clear from the way he holds meetings that connectivity is not just what he does for work, but how he does it.
"Most of my meetings are Google-Docs-based, starting with 10 minutes of reading and commenting in the doc," Dorsey Tweeted. "This makes time for everyone to get on the same page, allows us to work from many locations, and get to critical thinking faster."
Research agrees with Dorsey. According to a recent study, making sure everyone is on the same page creates a sort of "team" feeling among co-workers and allows you to get to critical thinking faster -- a key piece of productivity.
2. Train your mind to say 'no'
According to research by Morten Hansen, a professor at UC Berkeley and the author of "Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More," learning to say "no" allows us to minimize our obligations and attain greater focus. Additionally, those with difficulty in saying no are more likely to experience stress, burnout, and even depression.
The late Steve Jobs was a big proponent of this strategy. At the 1997 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs dropped this timeless piece of wisdom about what true focus entails:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done.
One thread that connects almost all successful executives is productivity. As a CEO who bootstrapped her company, Beth Gerstein, co-founder of Brilliant Earth, is a firm believer of detaching from your tech and recharging yourself. In other words, "be on when you're on and know when to disconnect."
Gerstein stresses the importance to get outside, walk to work, listen to your favorite podcast or spend time with family. "I've found that allowing myself time to detach and recharge -- for instance, listening to the Headspace app on my way to work -- is an integral part of harnessing the power of productivity.
4. Work in 90-minute sprints
One productivity mistake so many of us make is working for hours at a time, sometimes right through the lunch hour, and neglecting taking frequent breaks. Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project and author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working, writes in Harvard Business Review:
Our bodies sends us clear signals when we need a break, including fidgetiness, hunger, drowsiness and loss of focus. But mostly, we override them. Instead, we find artificial ways to pump up our energy: caffeine, foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, and our body's own stress hormones.
The secret to productivity and high performance, writes Schwartz, is to work the way track and field sprinters train. That means working at your highest intensity in the morning hours, says Schwartz, for 90-minute "sprints" (but not longer) before taking a true break. In other words, focus single-mindedly on your most challenging and important task for 90 minutes at a time, then give your brain a rest and let it recharge. You'll work faster and stronger when you get back to your desk.
5. Schedule your to-do list items.
Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, says the technique of scheduling your to-do list items is meant to help you be more realistic about what you want to get done, otherwise, it's just a list of wishful thinking. Newton adds:
"Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you're able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you're able to put work into places where you can do it best."
6. Turn off notifications.
"Don't spend your day managing to inbox zero. Pick one to two problems every day that are important for you to dig into strategically and allot real-time to them by cutting off your access to email, texts, and social media notifications that seduce all of us out of the zone."
That's what Jennifer Hyman, founder of Rent the Runway, offered up in a productivity roundup article that included 30 other successful entrepreneurs. And she's certainly onto something here. According to research conducted by dscout, the average person touches their phone 2,617 times per day. Turning off notifications is a proven way to minimize distractions and be more productive.