August 31, 2013
5 Daily Habits Of Remarkably Successful CEOs

If you haven’t noticed there has recently been an onslaught of articles from various publications on how to be more productive, and all of them point to the same message: How you choose to spend your time is the difference between being a good leader and a remarkable one.

And if efficiency is about mastering your rituals, then we thought we’d take a look at which daily habits remarkably successful chief executives seem to have in common.

1. They wake up early.

Almost across the board, successful people wake up early—really early. Most of these CEOs wake up between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. And they never hit the snooze button.

There’s something about those quiet, meditative moments in the morning that help leaders identify what their priorities really are—not just for that day, but for the long term.

And as far as work-life balance goes, there is an important truth to remember: The more you get done when people are asleep, the more time you can spend with people when they are awake.

2. They exercise.

If you are getting up early, mornings are the perfect time to exercise. You don’t have to be one of those insanely fit CEOs who breeze through triathlons like the rest of us ride escalators. But you should do all you can to establish habits to maintain your physical health.

Aside from the primary purpose of better health, there are many unexpected benefits of exercise that will help you be a better business leader. Some of these include a sharper memory, a reduction in stress, improvement in self-confidence and greater overall productivity.

Remember, you can’t take care of others without first taking care of yourself.

3. They meditate. 

Setting aside an actual time to meditate, pray, or even just quietly reflect once or twice a day may not solve all your life’s problems, it certainly helps keep things in perspective.

Studies show people who meditate have lower stress levels, lower blood pressure and even longer lives. Maybe that’s why CEOs like Rupert Murdoch and Oprah Winfrey are such big fans of meditation.

4. They cut back on meetings.

You’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking this is out of your control, but is it really?

Most meetings are habitual and unnecessary. Before scheduling a meeting, consider if an email, a phone call, or some other form of communication would save more time. CEOs who are productive are CEOs who cut back on meetings.

If you absolutely have to have a meeting then stick to the allotted time. And only schedule in-person meetings when it’s necessary.

Perhaps Mark Cuban said it best:

“Meetings are a waste of time unless you are closing a deal. There are so many ways to communicate in real time or asynchronously that any meeting you actually sit for should have a duration and set outcome before you agree to go.” 

5. They keep to-do lists.

This might be the most important habit for business leaders to establish. Our lives are much too complicated to not write anything down.

There are a myriad of productivity programs available, from bigger ones like Evernote to simpler ones like Trello. But whatever program you use, take Barbara Corcoran’s advice and rank items on your to-do list so that the most important items actually get done.

When it comes to focusing on what matters, remember that successful people have short to-do lists when it comes to the most important things they want to accomplish each day. The former CEO of Xerox rarely had no more than three daily objectives.

Above all, as you prioritize remember that people are more important than to-do lists. The best daily habit for any leader is doing what’s best for the individuals they lead.