Being more productive means having more time to be an innovative problem solver; that's a key element in becoming great at whatever you are doing. For some, increasing productivity means utilizing a great new time-management app, for others, it’s setting daily goals. But if you’re looking for more novel (OK, I mean bizarre!) productivity hacks, look to some of the world’s greatest achievers:

Beethoven started each day with a cup of coffee--and what coffee! He insisted on 60 beans per cup. Some of us try to be good by limiting our intake to under two cups a day--Beethoven seemed to know the exact caffeine amount for his top performance.

Benjamin Franklin took an air bath each morning. In other words, he sat naked in front of an open window for a full hour, summer and winter. We have no record of what his nosy neighbors might have thought of this, but it helped propel Franklin into the first rank of statesmen and scientists.

Demosthenes was an ancient Greek with a speech defect who wanted to become a public speaker. So he put pebbles in his mouth, then walked alone along the seashore for an hour each day, declaiming loudly. He eventually conquered his speech impediment and went on to become a famous orator. (But he never did like rocky road ice cream.)

Victor Hugo insisted on raw eggs for breakfast. The writer managed to live for 83 years at a time when the average lifespan of a European was 63 years.

Freud got his beard trimmed at the barber every day before arriving at his clinic. Today, only 50 percent of men shave or trim their beards every day…perhaps that needs to change for better productivity?

Ernest Hemingway wrote most of his novels standing up. The Smithsonian says that standing while working can reduce the risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart attack.

Maya Angelou claims she can't write in a well-designed room. The poet prefers to write in plain, down-at-the-heels motel rooms and waiting rooms.

Truman Capote never wrote a thing until he had lain down first and sketched everything out in his mind. As Jesse Leimgruber, co-founder and CEO of NeoReach, says, "The top YouTube influencers gain millions of followers by following Capote’s logic, by sketching their ideas out first before filming."

Igor Stravinsky stood on his head between bouts of composing his symphonies.

Woody Allen takes a shower whenever he needs a creative boost.

Pianist Glenn Gould fasted on days when he had a studio recording. Studies do actually show fasting lowers both blood pressure and cholesterol, but who wants to test that theory? Anyone?

Friedrich Schiller wrote great German poetry under the influence of the odor of rotting apples in his desk drawer. Whenever his wife would throw them out, he'd just find a new batch in someone's trash barrel.

Jonathan Franzen wrote his bestseller The Corrections while sitting at his computer with earplugs, earmuffs, and a blindfold.

Julius Caesar refused to have bodyguards, claiming their presence distracted him from his administrative work. This was a great idea, until one day in the Roman senate....

Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire while working all night and sleeping all day. She said it gave her the proper perspective on her dark protagonist.

Thomas Edison slept only four hours each night. During the day, the inventor would impulsively throw himself into a chair or under a table to take 20-minute power naps whenever he felt he needed one. According to WebMD, a power nap will boost your memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy level much more than a cup of caffeinated coffee. (Don't tell Beethoven!)

Sally Rand, a noted exotic dancer, tied a green ribbon on her left thumb each morning--and would not remove it until she had learned about a promising stock offering from one of her admirers on Wall Street. She retired a very wealthy woman.

Published on: Sep 12, 2015
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