If you want to be truly successful, say hello to these 17 productivity habits

There is no single blueprint for success – at least that’s my personal belief.

But it can’t be denied that there’s one thing common among successful people – irrespective of how they’ve achieved it and how you define success.

That common denominator comes in the form of habits – or systems they have put in place – to achieve, maintain, and build on their current levels of success.

That said, here’s a list of productivity habits used by successful people that have proven effective:

1) Find your purpose

In the wise words of Bob Proctor, “Your purpose explains what you are doing in life.”

I also remember listening to a podcast in which he talked about only doing things that align with your purpose and not wasting energy on anything else.

But let’s face it:

Finding our life’s purpose takes time. Unfortunately, some people don’t live long enough to realize their purpose.

But then again, you can always start finding your “in the meantime” purpose – or what I like to call what truly matters to you in daily, weekly, or monthly contexts.

Why is this important to your success?

It serves as your guiding light towards any actions you take.

Once you’ve established this “why,” you can then move on to your “how”:

2) Clearly define your top three goals

Your goals serve as your “how” s to your “why”s.

They are the tangible steps you plan to take to move closer to your purpose. They are something you must do for the day, week, or month, and everything else can wait.

But why three?

Achieving something usually takes more than three steps, but three is a realistic number for non-negotiable goals, which ensures you are inching closer to that bigger purpose.

3) Set a daily routine that works for you

Ever tried following a motivational speaker or a life coach’s “morning routine” only to fail at sticking to it? 

I did.

Thing is, it’s not that they don’t work. It’s just that they didn’t work for me. 

You’re probably sitting there thinking, that’s rich coming from someone suggesting habits for how I can be productive and successful.

I get it, but hear me out:

Only take what works for you and what’s relevant to you in this list. The same is true when it comes to adopting trendy daily or morning routines.

Use them as a guide, but tailor it to suit your lifestyle.

For example, early birds may find their peak productivity at 4:00 am. But if you’re a night owl, embrace your natural rhythm and schedule your tasks accordingly. 

In short, when it comes to planning your daily routines, it’s important that you do you.

4) Soak in natural sunlight

This is advice from neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, who says that viewing sunlight within the first few hours of waking up increases cortisol release.

And how does cortisol contribute to your success and productivity?

It boosts your immune system and your ability to focus.

And if you’re a night person, no worries.

Dr Humberman says using the brightest artificial light you can find works just as well.

5) Organize your space

While studies suggest that a mess-free desk positively affects how we work, existing research also proves that a cluttered desk fosters creativity. 

Therefore, either way could lead to higher productivity.

In saying that, organizing in this context means having everything you need within arm’s reach and/or knowing where they are. 

It’s a time saver, sparing you the hassle of time-consuming searches.

But whether that means a tidy or messy desk – that’s entirely up to you.

6) Practice energy blocking

There’s the more popular time blocking, and then there’s the version I prefer – energy blocking. 

Here’s what that looks like:

Instead of dividing my day into hour blocks, I split my daily routine according to my energy levels, my body’s unique rhythms, peak performance times, and my kids’ schedules.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried time blocking before, and it has its benefits, too.

But because energy blocking is highly personalized and flexible, I find that I am able to do more with this approach.

7) Learn to delegate effectively

Delegation is an overlooked habit when it comes to productivity. 

But if you think about it, doesn’t it make more sense to get help (if available) in doing a task rather than carrying the burden alone?

Take it from this African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

8) Take shortcuts

Here’s another popular saying to ponder on:

“Work smarter, not harder”.

In the right context, shortcuts are okay and something you shouldn’t be guilty of.

If there is a more efficient way to accomplish the task, as long as it doesn’t violate legal or ethical boundaries, by all means, go for it.

9) Embrace technology

Speaking of working smarter, why not leverage the technology that was literally made to make our lives easier?

AI is generating (pun intended) a lot of mixed reactions at the moment, but technology isn’t just about AI.

It’s more about the tools that boost productivity. 

For example, project management tools, document management software, or note-taking apps for students and workers.

And let’s not forget the parents’ lifesavers: air fryers, dishwashers, and robovacs!

If you’re still on the fence, start by embracing a time-saving technology applicable to you and see how it goes.

10) Play the “pass” card…

If you’re familiar with quiz shows like Family Feud and The Chase, you understand that a “pass” allows contestants to skip a tricky question and proceed to the next, with the option to revisit it later if time permits. 

Do the same with your daily tasks – skip the ones you struggle with and tackle the easier ones first.

This tactic ensures you maximize your output in the available time.

11) …Or eat the frog

If saving the hardest for last isn’t your thing, “eating the frog” is. 

This phrase that originated from Mark Twain has evolved into a concept that essentially means tackling the hardest task first thing in the morning without taking too much time to think (and, therefore, hesitate) about it.

Like the pass card, this habit is believed to boost performance and productivity levels, too.

12) Adopt the 5-second rule

Ever heard of the 5-second rule?

This concept, popularised by Mel Robbins, works like this:

“Whenever you get an instinct to act on your goal, you must physically move within five seconds, or your brain will kill it.”

Essentially, the aim is to break bad habits and take action to change your life.

13) Apply the two-minute rule

From seconds, let’s jump to minutes – 2 to be precise.

The 2-minute rule was coined by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done

Here’s what it dictates:

“If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined.”

Unlike the pass card which is all about keeping the momentum going, the 2-minute rule is all about immediate action to reduce procrastination.

14) Practice deep work

This means hyperfocusing on one task for periods of time. 

There are a lot of techniques associated with this, but the most common ones are:

  • The Pomodoro Technique – based on a cycle of 25-minute stretches of deep work followed by five-minute breaks.
  • The Timeboxing Technique – scheduling a set amount of time to focus on a task rather than working on it until it’s done.

In a nutshell, deep work aims to increase efficiency by eliminating multitasking and minimizing distractions.

15) Get moving

It’s a well-known fact that exercise does wonders not only for our bodies but also for our minds.

In fact, countless studies have proven that exercise sharpens mental clarity and improves our focus.

Whether it’s high-intensity exercise or simply walking around the block, as long as you get your body moving daily, your brain and body will thank you later.

16) Hydrate throughout the day

Of course, with exercise comes proper water intake. 

Needless to say, adequate hydration helps our body move and think better. 

So, if there’s anything on this list that everyone must adopt, let this be one of them. 

17) Nourish your mind and soul

Another ironic concept: 

Taking a break to free your mind and feed your soul helps boost your productivity.

And this isn’t just hearsay. Science actually backs this up:

A recent study found that mindfulness practices in the workplace enhance personal performance and reduce burnout.

As always, do what works for you. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing yoga, journaling, deep breathing, meditation, a quiet walk, or a moment of silence with your favorite cup of tea. 

The important thing is you make a habit out of mindfulness.

Remember to indulge yourself and rest

Allow me to reiterate: 

The above list of productivity habits for success isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. It’s more of a guide – a menu, if you will – for you to pick from and stick with the ones that work for you.

That said, there’s no point in working hard if you don’t get to enjoy the rewards.

Sure, you may not have reached your peak success yet. 

But surely, you have small wins daily – cultivate a habit of celebrating those! 

Treat yourself – you’ve worked so hard, you definitely deserve it.

Most importantly, take time to rest – your body and your brain need it.

After all, what good is success if you wear yourself down so much that you can’t enjoy it?

Sarah Piluden-Natu-El

Sarah is a full-time mum, wife, and nurse on hiatus turned freelance writer. She is on a journey of diving deeper into life through life itself and uses her writing to share the lessons learned along the way. When not on her computer, she enjoys time with her family strolling along the Gold Coast's stunning beaches and captivating hinterland.

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