10 productivity habits that successful people always practice (even when they’re tired)

Unless you win the Powerball, success doesn’t often tend to just land in your lap. 

Generally speaking, success is a product of your daily habits. 

Our habits define us; they can be the decider whether we reach our goals in life or not. 

So if success is what you’re after, you must take a deeper look at your habits, making the correct adjustments where necessary, with dedication and discipline.

In this article, I’ll take you through the top productivity habits successful people always practice, whether they’re tired or not. 

Once you get a clearer idea of things, you’ll be in a better position moving forward. 

Let’s dive in!

1) They have a morning routine 

Successful people don’t roll out of bed on weekdays at 11 am hungover and depressed. 

Almost every successful person I know has some semblance of a structured morning routine.

They know that how they start their morning will set the tone for the rest of the day; hence, they make it count. 

They’ll wake up at a reasonable hour, perhaps get some meditation or exercise in, eat a balanced, light breakfast, go for a walk with the dogs, read, or what have you. 

Mornings are not just dismissed as a time to struggle to get out of bed, scroll through Instagram, and then rush to the office. 

Successful people consider mornings as a crucial, arguably even sacred, part of the day. 

2) They engage in prioritization

Successful people have their priorities in order.

They almost always base tasks on their level of importance and urgency. 

They get the more cerebral, stressful, high-impact stuff out of the way when they’re sharpest, typically at the start of the day. 

This ensures they stay focused, so when fatigue invariably sets in, they’re able to still be productive, focusing on the less mentally taxing tasks at an effective level, knowing that the more challenging work is behind them. 

As entrepreneur Jessica Jackley astutely puts it: “As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritize. You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay, or skip the rest.”

3) They have a schedule (time blocking)

As you know by now, successful people are advocates of structure. 

Unlike many of us, they don’t often wing it and hope for the best. 

Time blocking means dedicating specific blocks of time to specific tasks. 

Successful people tend to plan their days. 

They don’t just wander or coast through life. Everything is planned ahead of time: work tasks, meetings, breaks, get-togethers with friends. 

All these things are meticulously jotted down on a calendar, with each activity allocated a certain amount of time. 

Because as successful and productive people know quite well: time is money. 

4) They maintain a healthy lifestyle

It’s no longer a state secret, how healthy you are has an almost direct effect on your level of productivity. 

Successful people are deeply attuned to this correlation. 

During the pandemic, I became quite profoundly unhealthy. 

My mindset was “Well, the world is going to shit, I might as well enjoy my life.” 

But my definition of enjoyment essentially meant hedonism

I’d eat copious amounts of takeout, snack on Doritos, and regularly imbibe soda and an assortment of liquors, often to excess. 

Exercise became a foreign concept. 

I gained thirty pounds; and frankly, my self-worth and self-image plummeted to record-low levels. 

I hated myself and who I had become. 

And in addition to all that, my work suffered. 

I had no motivation to get things done, always giving myself and everyone else excuses to slack off (pun intended), to skip the Zoom meeting. 

It’s a minor miracle I wasn’t sacked. 

Fortunately, one morning, I had a moment of clarity. 

I snapped out of the toxic trance and became determined to turn things around–which somehow, I eventually did.

When you’re healthy, you’re chances of real success increase exponentially. 

Getting in regular exercise, having a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, self-care, and staying away from toxic relationships; all these things add up in a big way. 

Successful people make conscious efforts to maintain a certain lifestyle–one that directly impacts their productivity. 

5) They set goals 

Successful people don’t just coast through life, waiting for their monthly wages to come in to pay off their student loans, rent, or utility bills. 

They always have goals; clear, achievable goals, both long and short-term. 

This provides them with a perpetual sense of direction. 

Each day, they work towards achieving their goals, slowly but surely; celebrating their victories along the way. 

They don’t get overwhelmed, precisely because of this systematic approach. 

As my trusty attorney always says: “you can’t eat an elephant with one bite.” 

Successful people break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks, making it easier to stay on track, even when their energy levels are compromised. 

6) They are continuously learning 

For successful people, the grind might slow down, but it never really stops. 

Now I’m hardly a proponent of this trending toxic hustle culture that’s all over the internet, but I do think continuous learning and growth is important for everyone. 

This doesn’t have to pertain to your job, or making money–in fact, most of the time it doesn’t. 

Continuous learning can involve reading, attending seminars, acquiring new skills and hobbies (creative or otherwise), learning a language, etc. 

There is literally an infinite variety of choices out there and life is short; the quest for growth should therefore never end.

This pursuit of knowledge doesn’t just make you a more complete, worldly citizen, it also enhances your adaptability, flexibility, and problem-solving abilities. 

7) They delegate effectively 

No man or woman is an island. 

Successful people know that taking on too much means they risk getting burnt out–which will set them back indefinitely. 

They understand the value of delegating tasks

They understand that delegation allows each team member to focus on their core strengths, rather than aimlessly grasp at straws and waste time. 

They appreciate the importance of teamwork and tend to surround themselves with a reliable support system. 

8) They take regular breaks

It may sound counterproductive but taking the odd break is critical for anyone’s productivity levels. 

If you get too caught up in work, working relentlessly with zero pauses, the quality of your output will inevitably begin to decline. 

This is just human nature. 

Short breaks help you maintain focus and prevent burnout. 

As a writer, I know that breaks are exceptionally important.

When I’m immersed in a piece for too long, I tend to hit mental roadblocks, sometimes scratching my head and staying in that rut for hours. 

Meanwhile, if I actively make it a point to shut off my laptop, and get outdoors, say to walk my dog in the park for an hour, or do some light exercise, I come back clear-headed, with the ability to see things far more objectively. 

It’s like magic; that work problem I was once dwelling on is almost instantly solved.  

Breaks are a good thing. 

You aren’t slacking off, consider the bigger picture. 

So incorporate breaks into your schedule–this will ensure you are recharged and maintain a high level of productivity and output moving forward. 

9) They stay mindful 

It’s no longer just some new-age fluff your aunt has been preaching about. 

It’s science: practices like mindfulness meditation and stress management techniques help you stay calm during the more tense moments of life. 

They allow you to block out unnecessary anxieties and worries, keeping your head in the game and your eyes on the prize. 

These habits, when practiced effectively, can improve decision-making and problem-solving, peeling off an extra layer of your potential. 

Take it from Albert Einstein (maybe you’ve heard of him): “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then is an empty desk a sign?”

Touche. 

10) They stay adaptable 

Most people fear change. They’re averse to it because they don’t know how to handle it. 

The genuinely successful person understands the inherent importance of adaptability.

They know that the world is an ever-changing place, full of unpredictable twists and turns, both good and bad.

So they stay ready. 

They embrace change, adjust their plans as needed, and remain resilient in the face of challenges. 

They try to actively maintain these practices so that when life throws them the inevitable curve ball, they’re prepared. 

This flexibility allows them to navigate through life and its many challenges, not getting overwhelmed by any feelings of mental or physical exhaustion. 

They stay composed and productive. 

I’ve used this quote by the late great Bruce Lee countless times because of its universal relevance:

“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Think about it. 

Final words 

If success is your goal, remember that real change starts with your smallest, almost negligible habits. 

The ones that most people overlook. 

Start small. Take baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

And you will not become Bill Gates or Warren Buffet overnight. 

However, if you stay on track, with consistent will and determination, those foreign habits will start to feel organic–and soon, you will get to where you want to be. 

You will thrive. I do not doubt it for a second. Neither should you.  

Ethan Sterling

Ethan Sterling has a background in entrepreneurship, having started and managed several small businesses. His journey through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship provides him with practical insights into personal resilience, strategic thinking, and the value of persistence. Ethan’s articles offer real-world advice for those looking to grow personally and professionally.

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