He is the CEO of Tesla and the recent host of Saturday Night Live. How do successful people like Elon Musk get it all done? OnDeck, the global online small business lending company, recently analyzed the work habits of forty leading business leaders to see how they perform superhuman feats without exhausting themselves. Could reviewing their routines help us juggle our own daily tasks?
Here are five work habits of the world’s most successful people that will change the way you approach your day.
Work habit # 1: strategic multitasking
Whenever possible, Elon Musk combines multiple tasks into a productivity hack called batching. While studies have suggested that multitasking is generally less efficient than multitasking, there is another option. This involves dedicating blocks of time to similar tasks to reduce distraction and Increased productivity. Each time we are interrupted, it takes an average of 15 minutes to regain concentration. Batch processing minimizes the amount of distraction placed on our increasingly connected lives. Some examples include processing all email, phone calls, and other communications at once, or updating multiple spreadsheets at the same time. To find items that you can stack, write down all of your general activities for the week and identify which ones you can group together. Musk would have said, “But what I find is that I am able to be with [my kids] and always by e-mail. I can be with them and continue to work at the same timeâ¦ Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do my job.
Work habit # 2: avoid meetings
According to billionaire investor Mark Cuban of Shark aquarium Fame, âMeetings are a waste of time unless you strike a deal. There are so many ways to communicate in real time or asynchronously that any meeting you attend must have a duration and a defined outcome before you agree to go. Instead, send a daily summary via email. Make e-mail your default mode of communication. If someone wants to set up a meeting, ask them to email you their questions instead. If that doesn’t work, talk about it over the phone. If a meeting is to take place, request a copy of the agenda, then complete what is on the agenda before the meeting. This will save you from having to be in the meeting to be able to work on another project instead.
Work Habit # 3: Develop a Routine
How it works Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue manage your busy schedule? She has impeccable work habits. Wintour shares: “I have a fairly consistent structure for my day that I am that I find that works very well for me.” Anna Wintour’s daily routine begins early, usually between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., when she begins reading British and American news. After that, she usually plays tennis and runs a Starbucks for coffee and breakfast. Wintour is also known to wear similar outfits every day to reduce decision fatigue. Its afternoons are usually reserved for offsite meetings, lunches with designers, event planning, or outside appearances. Then at 5 p.m., she’ll come home with some work to do for the evening. âIt is very important for me to do everything at night so that I can follow the work and no one waits for my comments,â adds Wintour.
Work habit # 4: write it down
Asked about the things he takes wherever he goes, Sir Richard Branson chose one item as the most important. âIt might sound silly, but the most important thing is to always have a small notebook in your back pocket. I think the first thing I take with me when I travel is the notebookâ¦ I could never have built the Virgin Group the size it is without those few pieces of paper. âGetting into the habit of writing every day has many benefits. On the one hand, putting your goals in writing makes you more likely to achieve them. It also improves the clarity and focus of your ideas and clears your mind so that you can solve problems more efficiently.
Work Habit # 5: Plan Creativity
It sounds counterintuitive, but creativity doesn’t just happen. You have to work diligently and methodically to make it happen. Take poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. She used to go to a hotel room to write – arriving at 6:30 a.m., writing until 2 p.m., then returning home to edit. Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO of music streaming service Spotify, believes in planning creativity. âPeople think that creativity is that free spirit that has no boundaries,â says Ek. âNo, in fact, the most creative people in the world plan their creativity. That’s the irony. So, I try to do the same. The calendar is the system that makes your goals come true. If you don’t set yourself a routine, your only option is to rely on motivation. Remember, you can’t always count on inspiration, but you can rely on constant effort.
Effective work habits are essential for success. And this past year has taught us that time is precious. Make the most.