Success isn't given, it's earned. The most brilliant minds in the history of humankind all have one thing in common--and it's not just their creativity and intelligence. The most intelligent people that transcend expectations and create lasting changes in the world learned how to master their productivity.
These individuals, like Sigmund Freud, Benjamin Franklin, and Immanuel Kant, scheduled their lives according to their values and their unique needs. As a life coach and licensed therapist, I can attest to the fact that each client is different. The schedule and daily habits that provide optimal growth for one client might not work at all for someone with different skills, time-demands, and personality characteristics.
While there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to optimizing your productivity and sustaining high levels of success, studying how brilliant minds spend their time is a great way to reverse engineer trends that lead to positive outcomes. For this article, I studied how Freud, the pioneer and foundation of all modern psychology, Franklin, the scientist, writer, and architect of independence, and Kant, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, spent their time.
Here are 10 daily habits of the most intelligent people.
1. Prioritize an appropriate amount of sleep.
The most intelligent people recognize the importance of sleep in sustaining high levels of physical and mental energy during the day. Kant and Franklin averaged about seven hours of sleep per night, while Freud, somewhat of a night-owl, averaged six.
2. Allow for appropriate transition time in the morning.
Morning routines make or break you because they have a major impact on your mental state. Benjamin Franklin took time each morning to reflect and set specific intentions each day, while Freud preferred to eat breakfast and then ensure that he was well-groomed for the day. Immanuel Kant started his morning with tea, meditation, and smoking his pipe.
3. Designate specific times for your primary aim.
Kant spent a minimum of four hours each day writing and consulting with Joseph Green to further his philosophy. Franklin spent 8 hours covering a wide range of his varying interests from music to language to science. Freud, immersed in his work, spent around 10 hours with psychoanalytic patients each day.
4. Find an optimal balance between your input and output.
Some people need much more input than output, while others may function better with the opposite balance. Benjamin Franklin spent about nine hours each day doing some type of activity that gave him energy and only eight hours doing things that took energy. Freud and Kant preferred to spend between 11 and 12 hours engaging in output and spending 5-6 hours recharging (not counting sleep).
5. Minimize your distractions--especially the digital ones.
During my investigation of each person's schedule, I was struck by the lack of distractions. While technology has it's drawbacks, I think a lot of the difficulty involves setting boundaries with yourself. Turn off your notifications and allocate specific time to getting caught up and informed. The most intelligent people spend more time immersed in each moment than they do multitasking.
6. Get up early in the day.
While this may not apply to certain artists and creative-minded folks, the three people I studied all enjoyed getting up early in the day. Kant and Franklin both started their mornings at 5am, whereas Freud got started at 7am, but was also up writing until 1am. Start treating each day as an opportunity for growth.
7. Prioritize down-time to decompress and recharge.
One thing that surprised me was that each person I researched chose to schedule down time. Freud allowed time to relax after seeing patients. Kant and Franklin enjoyed reading, eating, and listening to music to recharge.
8. Exercise daily--even if it's only an hour.
Freud and Kant were both big fans of taking afternoon walks to reset themselves. Some of this walking was leisurely, however, Freud was known to pace through Vienna with haste. Franklin didn't exercise, but he was most certainly overweight even without being exposed to the high fructose corn syrup we have today.
9. Maximize your most productive hours in the morning and afternoon.
Everyone I studied knew that their most productive hours were in the mornings and afternoons. They each spent most their time in the mornings and afternoons doing their primary passion. Find what works for you and then maximize that time.
10. Simplify your schedule as much as possible.
The final take-away I had from combing through the schedules of Sigmund Freud, Immanuel Kant, and Benjamin Franklin was their simplicity. Everyone knew that simplicity is velocity, and that the most intelligent, productive, and inspired people try to reduce unnecessary complexity in their lives.
The more that you can align yourself with your values and practice what you preach, the more you can unleash your natural intelligent and earn the success you've always wanted.