Productive people know what they need to do to stay focused on a task and complete it with minimal distraction in order to succeed. Here, 10 successful people explain why waiting for success is a mistake.

1. Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. senator

According to Senator Gillibrand, who has authored the book Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World, she knows what needs to be done each day, with the most important thing being picking up her children between 5 and 6 p.m. She arranges everything else around that one task. She says her most productive time is at night when she is in bed and can focus on an issue at hand.

2. John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile

John Legere says he remains productive because he makes a point to talk to people every minute of every day. He says that he gives his email out to all 3,000 of his retail stores so that all serious customer escalations come directly to him. He also watches Twitter and responds to customer comments. He says his productivity comes from listening to customers and employees.

3. Tim Ferriss, author

Tim Ferriss says that the secret to his productivity is simple--no email in the morning. He says that the majority of people can get 80 to 90 percent of their work done before they open emails and suggests that opening email before completing the majority of the tasks can take their mind off of things they are currently working on. By waiting until later in the day to open emails, it is easier to focus on the needs from the day before, moving to-do items in email to later in the day or the next day.

4. Bobbi Brown, cosmetics executive

The chief creative officer of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and editor-in-chief of Yahoo Beauty, Bobbi Brown says she remains productive by carving out time for herself each day. It may be exercise or going to the grocery store, but it is time she spends alone to recharge and rethink.

5. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

Tony Hsieh has a similar method for productivity as Tim Ferriss. Hsieh created what he calls the Yesterbox. Each morning, he answers only emails that he received the day before. He says the Yesterbox principle helps busy people get a handle on the many emails they receive in a day. He starts the day knowing exactly how many emails he has to answer and there is a sense of progress as he addresses each email until there are none left to process from the day before.

6. Adora Cheung, CEO of Homejoy

Adora Cheung says that at previous employers, meetings took forever, so at Homejoy, she uses a Google Doc for staff members to add items to the agenda for recurring meetings. Just before the meeting, she prioritizes the subjects into an agenda and those in attendance discuss only what is on it. If it is not on the agenda, it is not discussed. She also maps out what she hopes to accomplish each day first thing in the morning, refusing to sleep until she has achieved everything on her list.

7. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

Although it may seem counter to productivity, Marissa Mayer says that taking a week's vacation every four months helps her recharge and develop strategies that will help the company grow. She applauds companies who are now making vacation time mandatory as more of them are realizing the importance of getting away from work in order to remain productive

8. Gary Friedman, CEO of Restoration Hardware

Garry Friedman says he learned while working for Mickey Drexler at GAP Inc. that it is important to focus on the important things. He also asks staff members what the company is doing right and what they are doing wrong, working toward improving the right things and eliminating the wrong. He says he is most productive when he is around other people, getting ideas from discussions and debates.

9. Velma Scantlebury, MD, transplant surgeon

A small woman, Velma Scantlebury, who performs transplants as the associate chief of transplant surgery at Christiana Care in Newark, Delaware, says she must sometimes use a stepstool to operate on patients. Because she must adjust lights that require her to step down from the stool, she jokes that she does a Zumba step exercise routine during the surgery. She says her most productive space is in her car, where it is quiet. She doesn't listen to the radio, but gets lost in her thoughts so that she can get herself "mentally in order."

10. Ariana Huffington, Huffington Post

Ariana Huffington says that she swears by getting a good night's sleep, at least seven hours per night, to stay productive. She says that lack of sleep can make people irritable, unfocused, and unable to make good decisions. In addition, she says it keeps her from being overwhelmed by large volumes of work that must be completed.

11. Bobby Flay, chef

Bobby Flay says his biggest tip for staying productive is to create lists. He says whether he is cooking Thanksgiving dinner or creating a new menu for one of his restaurants, he makes lists, crossing off things as he accomplishes them. He says that crossing them off gives him a sense of achievement and keeps him motivated.

12. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin

Richard Branson says that he keeps up his productivity by engaging in at least 20 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each day. He says that the workouts not only keep him fit, but keep his brain working at high levels so that he is more productive. He treats his fitness routine as part of his job so that he does not avoid fitting it in each day.

13. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks

Howard Schultz says that his key to productivity is getting out of bed each day at 4:30 AM, making a cup of coffee and starting his workday. In fact, he began getting up early each day when he read that most productive people are up before dawn to get a start on the day.

14. Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett says that the first thing to learn to be productive is how to say "no." He says that it is not always an easy thing to do, but it is critical to make time a priority in order to achieve things throughout the day.

15. Diplo, music producer

Diplo says that he spends a considerable amount of time traveling, so when he is home, his focus is on his family. Therefore, he says he is more productive when he is on the road, when there are less distractions. He says creating a balance between his home and business life is critical, making him more productive when he is working because he knows that the time he has at home is quality time.

These 10 productive people offer insights into how others can develop better productivity and achieve more in a day. These tips can help anyone become better organized, more productive and build success.

Published on: Jan 27, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.