11 ways successful people get more done than the rest of us

When you look at the richest and most successful people in the world, you have to wonder: how in the world did they do it?

They have the same 24 hours in a day that you do, so how did they accomplish something that you couldn’t do in a dozen lifetimes?

The truth is that they just live more efficiently than the rest of us.

Successful people have made life into their art form, figuring out the formula to making every single day work for them.

Here are 11 ways successful people get more done than the rest of us:

1) They Introduce Structure Into Their To-Do Lists

Lists are one of the most accessible productivity tools and yet too many people fall into the list trap.

Most people treat to-do lists as a dumping ground for their ideas with no real sense of priority or structure.

Instead of narrowing it down to top tasks that would actually move the day forward, people tend to fall into a false sense of productivity and create a never-ending list, with important, and often daunting, tasks getting mixed with not-so-important ones.

Successful people treat to-do lists in a more goal-oriented way.

One of the best ways to make sure you stick to your to-do list is by starting the day with three or five tasks, and bumping up the most important ones at the top to make sure they don’t get lost.

2) They Know How To Eliminate Distraction and Stay Focused

Successful people know you don’t have to (and shouldn’t have to) strive to work six hours a day if you can do your tasks within a couple hours.

At the end of the day, it’s not about how much time you spend working; it’s about how much deep work you actually get done.

It’s tempting to let time slip by and convince yourself that the six hours you spent in front of the computer were dedicated to pure, deep work.

Truly productive people know the difference between the two and consistently work on shaving off hours from their actual active time by staying focused and eliminating distractions.

Whether it’s structuring their day more efficiently or hiring an extra set of hands to automate redundant work, they know that the key to doing more work isn’t by working more hours: it’s by achieving good focus.

3) They Focus On Things That Matter

There’s a difference between getting things done and getting the right things done.

Again, the productivity trap makes it easy to feel fulfilled doing unnecessary tasks.

But the key difference between busy people and truly productive people is that productive people want to keep their focus on things that actually move things forward.

It’s not enough that they showed up to work; they achieve and measure success by making sure progress is made each and every day.

4) They Invest In Personal Growth

They don’t just optimize systems, they aim to optimize themselves.

They set up routines that contribute to their well-being and reduce mental load.

They participate in activities that improve their conversational skills and hone social aspects that are crucial to negotiation.

They seek out relationships that challenge them to do better and give them exposure to novel things conducive to personal growth.

They understand that success isn’t a magical peak you reach once you arrive at the summit.

To them, there is no summit.

Life and progress go hand-in-hand; they wake up everyday viewing life as a journey.

They understand that you don’t grind for years only to stop when you’re at the “top”; if you want to stay on top, you have to keep pushing boundaries and challenging yourself to want bigger, better things.

5) They Accept Faults and Learn From Mistakes

Reliving mistakes and repeating offenses becomes inevitable when problems and failures aren’t addressed.

With most people, there is an almost automatic response to sweep more embarrassing moments under the rug and forget they ever happened.

Successful people understand that the road isn’t linear and that ultimately there are days when they just can’t win.

Instead of avoiding failure, they confront problems and use these as opportunities to address deficiencies within themselves and re-strategize.

They take the time to understand what exactly went wrong so they can focus on getting it right the second time around.

6) They Hold Themselves Accountable For Their Progress

In many ways, life teaches us to live passively.

As long as we do our homework, pass our tests, apply for jobs, and do all our work, our teachers and bosses will give us what we need — our own sense of progress and accomplish according to their metrics.

But successful people don’t live by the metrics and expectations of teachers or bosses; they live by their own.

They know that the only way they’re going to get what they want in life is by working towards it.

No amount of dreaming or talking about what they want in life will bring them closer to their goals if they’re not actually putting in the work to do it.

So they plan out their path to success, step by step by step, turning a big dream into an achievable reality.

7) They Work To Eliminate Small Decisions

Every decision you make during the day is another portion of time and energy spent.

And when you break down the way you live to its smallest part, that’s all it really is — a series of decisions all day long.

And it’s been proven that the more small decisions you put in your way every day, the more tired you feel and the less you accomplish.

So how do successful people live differently?

Simple: they eliminate those small, trivial decisions.

There’s a reason why Steve Jobs (and many other highly effective people) wore the same thing every single time he gave a presentation, or why the most productive CEOs tend to eat the same thing everyday.

Instead of spending time and energy thinking about all the small, meaningless things, they just structure their lives and days in a way where those decisions are made automatically, without any input from them.

8) They Keep Track Of Their Habits

Your habits shape the person you become.

No one is born with the motivation and drive that pushes the top athletes, CEOs, scientists to achieve what they’ve achieved.

The people who become the most successful titans in their industries are those who figured out that the way they spend their time is crucial towards becoming their ideal self.

And this all comes back to your habits.

The little things you do in your spare time define how you behave, what you learn, what you engage with.

You will never see a top CEO spending consecutive afternoons doing nothing but watching reality TV on the couch.

So are you out of luck if you don’t have “smart habits”?

Of course not. Those are things you can teach yourself to do and enjoy.

The difference between a successful individual and one who isn’t is that they’re productive even when they’re not working.

9) They Break Down Goals Into Actionable Steps

When you want to have a productive day, one of the best things you can do for yourself is plan out every hour of the day.

Wake up at seven, go for a jog, have breakfast, answer emails by nine, and so on.

By breaking down your entire day, you can get the most done out of it. You’d be surprised just how long the day actually is when you use every minute effectively.

And this is how successful people plan out their goals and lives.

They don’t let the river of time take them from one place to another; they plan out exactly how they’re going to accomplish even the most difficult tasks.

They figure out the components of every goal they set, and turn those components into actionable steps that they can begin doing right now.

10) They Work Smart, Not Hard

It’s not about how hard you actually work.

It’s not about how many buckets of sweat you produce in a single day just from your labor, nor is it about how few hours you sleep every night because you’re so busy working every minute of the day.

It’s about investing your energy in the right direction.

CEOs have salaries thousands of times greater than the average person, but that doesn’t mean they create thousands of times the amount of work of the average person.

Once you break out of the mindset that your hours are meant to be traded for a static paycheck, you start thinking about how you can multiply what you make by working towards other areas.

11) They Keep Their Eyes On The Horizon

It’s easy to get distracted by the problems of the present, because that’s what you have to deal with right here, right now.

But the problem is when you become too focused on the present, seeing only today’s issues and nothing else.

Successful individuals don’t let today’s problems get to them, because they trust the path they laid out, and think instead about tomorrow’s possibilities.

Don’t let yourself miss the forest for the trees, simply because you were preoccupied by something going on today (which probably won’t matter at all in a few years).

Your goals are lifelong, so your focus should be lifelong as well.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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