Seven productivity tips from billionaires

There’s one thing for certain, we all have the same amount of time each day. How is it then that some people seem to accomplish more, sometimes even while doing less, in their lives? You need to focus on working smarter.

Here are some productivity tips from billionaires like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Richard Branson, to help you work smarter:

  1. Block your time for maximum effectiveness. Schedule time based on your calendar (not a ‘to-do’ list). Bill Gates and Elon Musk schedule into 5-minute increments. According to Parkinson’s law, work expands (and contracts!) to fill the time allotted to it. Keep track of your time, work out how long it takes to do activities in your ‘natural state’, to enable you to have accurate time allocated to complete a task – and aim to beat it. Avoid the temptation to over-schedule your day. Schedule ‘reactionary’ time to enable you to complete any issues not expected.
  2. Include some time to think by yourself. Andrew Carnegie sent Napoleon Hill of ‘Think and grow rich’ fame to interview ‘billionaires’ of the time. He discovered one of the keys to success was ‘sitting for ideas’, ensuring that you remove distractions. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, schedules “do nothing” time on his calendar. He creates a 90-minute and a two-hour buffer in his day where he keeps no meetings, no calls and no one can even disturb him during this time. This gives him enough time to think and do his job well. You could use an app like Freedom to help block out other distractions.
  3. Find your peak performance schedule. What is your genetic ‘sleep chronotype?’ Take the Power of sleep quiz, to work out whether you are a Wolf, Lion, Bear, or Dolphin. Research the ideal schedule for your chronotype. This can help you work out when your body likes to sleep, eat and operate. Jeff Bezos spends his mornings ‘pottering,’ as this suits his chronotype.
  4. Whatever your chronotype, you’ll need to get a good night’s sleep. Working overtime will make you tired and stressed, and negatively impact your productivity. Getting enough sleep will help you to ensure good physical and mental health. Bill Gates said that he needs seven, Jeff Bezos nine, and Elon Musk between six to seven hours of sleep every night.
  5. Make decisions quickly, including correcting bad decisions. As Jeff Bezos told his shareholders, “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70 percent of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90 percent, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”. Making the right decision can sometimes be less important than making a quick decision. The Amazon founder bases this assumption on the fact that “most decisions are reversible”. To ensure optimal levels of productivity, one needs to also be quick about correcting bad decisions. Mistakes are inevitable in life, and to grow, we need to not only seek mistakes but also learn from them as quickly as possible.
  6. Have a place to store your ideas. Our minds are best for processing information, rather than remembering. Richard Branson, the Virgin Group founder notes down everything—from ideas, suggestions, feedback, and contact details. He feels it helps to increase one’s productivity levels.
  7. Know when to say no. Throughout their careers, Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs followed the principle of knowing when to say no. Steve Jobs famously said, “Focus means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas”. Warren Buffet agreed saying, “Really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

Working hard is important, but what’s more important is how we can optimise our potential by working smarter.

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