“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn
Time is our most valuable finite resource. Yet many of us get so caught up in the whirlwind of life that we schedule our days haphazardly, if at all. As a result, we take on tasks inefficiently and let the rest of our life fall in between the gaps.
Ultra-successful people, on the other hand, realize the sheer importance that every minute plays in their day. They’re able to schedule their days strategically, maximize their productivity and enhance their well-being outside of work.
Thankfully, there are plenty of science-backed solutions that will allow you to do the same. Check out these strategies to squeeze the most success our of your day:
There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama wear the same work outfit every single day, and it isn’t because they lack fashion sense. Just like our muscles, studies show that our ability to make smart decisions gets worn down as the day goes on.
So to make the most out of their mornings, ultra-successful people cut out and automate as many non-essential decisions as possible. That way, their mental muscles and willpower are reserved for making wise choices that matter.
You don’t have to mimic Steve Jobs’ outfit every day, but you should start streamlining your life, too. For instance, you can set up your weekly wardrobe on Sunday, or create email templates to respond to morning client inquiries.
Catch the worm
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, and a slew of other successful individuals wake up early in the morning. Studies show they’re onto something — people who wake up early are able to be more proactive and take charge of their life.
While everyone else is struggling to shovel down breakfast while running out the door, you’ll have ample time to prepare for your day ahead and take advantage of healthy morning routines. Personally, I get to enjoy a leisurely walk to work with my rescue pup.
Follow the 52-17 rule
Most people batten down the hatches during a busy day and rarely if ever take time to relax. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t computers — they need regular breaks to keep functioning at a high capacity.
Desktime, a widely used productivity app, tracked the habits of the top 10 percent most productive users and found that the magic average for success is 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest. Even if you can’t stop at exactly 52 minutes, a glut of research shows that you should take breaks when you can to reap benefits and avoid burnout. Trust me, the work will still be there when you get back.
Stuck in a serious rut? Consider pairing your strategic breaks with a trip outside. Better yet, take the whole team on a walking meeting, just like Richard Branson does. Science shows that outdoor time fires up new brain synapses and enhances creative thinking.
Click on nearly any job post, and you’ll see “ability to multitask” as one of the most desired skills. While we’d all like to be able to juggle 10 projects simultaneously, it doesn’t mesh with reality.
Multitasking detracts from the work quality of everything you’re doing, according to numerous studies. The reason being is that you’re actuallyswitching your attention between the tasks, and paying a cognitive price each time.
That’s why I have my team — and myself — prioritize instead, and you should do the same. Always put your sole attention towards the most important tasks, and it’ll ensure they’re done with 100 percent efficiency.
Scheduling your day with purpose will be all for naught if you feel a constant obligation to do things for others. And, according to University of California in Berkeley, people who have difficulty saying “no” experience higher stress, burnout rates and the inability to focus. So don’t mistake being helpful for being a doormat. You’re not being rude, you’re putting yourself first.
Granted, you can’t tell your boss “no” every time they pop their head in your office. You can, however, make them aware of what you’re prioritizing, or tell them you have too much on your plate. You don’t have to sacrifice your work on an important project just because your manager tells you to.
The bottom line: If you strategically plan your days, it will snowball into a more streamlined and successful life.
Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the chief investment officer and founder of LexION Alpha.
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