Habits for success


Consider this your mid-week motivation—here we’ll be sharing a new smarter secret from our authors, the people who you learn from and who inspire you to push the limits of your potential. So, we asked: What habits have led you to success? 

Create a morning routine

The activity that most improves my professional abilities is my morning routine. Each work day I get up at 6:15, meditate for 15 to 20 minutes and then take a 45 minute walk. I do all of these before I read any emails or look at a screen. This gives me a chance to process the events of the previous day and then prepare and plan for the day ahead on my terms, rather than letting the events of the day drive me. –Jim Wilson

Make realistic lists

I love to do lists. Every evening I make a plan for the next day of what I plan to accomplish. This is a realistic list, with some room for delays that are bound to happen. I even make a rough schedule (not minute by minute) so I am sure that what I have planned can actually be done in a day. This prevents me from having an impossibly long to-do list and feeling overwhelmed, therefore resulting in nothing being done. –Corissa Jesseman

Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done (GTD) is instrumental to my personal and professional organization. I believe that meditation, physical exercise, and quality contact with those around me all contribute to my giving my best each day at work and at play. –Tim Warner

Five nines of reliability

I learned a lot about computing in my early days due to the dual needs to a) continue playing video games, while b) not utterly destroying my father’s accounting program.  I can say that I learned early the need for five nines of reliability through the sheer number of times I managed to not accomplish (b) while focusing on (a).  The fear of being grounded or extra farm chores made me an accomplished IT professional and technology troubleshooter before I even hit junior high school. –Greg Shields

Sleep in

Ever since I abandoned a normal job by starting my own business, I arranged things so I could sleep in most days. And it's not just because I'm a night person. When I run into a tough problem, I'll think about it as I fall asleep, and 9 times out of 10 by morning, my subconscious will have come up with a solution, or at least a direction to pursue. Sometimes I think I do my best work while asleep.–Dan Appleman

Do the difficult stuff first

Doing the difficult or unpleasant stuff first—it tends to be the most valuable, and getting it out of the way early is a big stress reducer.–Ben Piper

Keep a notebook

Keep a notebook. Every morning I go into OneNote and add a new heading to a page called "Today" with today's date. Then I enter things I need to do (with a checkbox), information I need to refer back to (with a star), and general notes on what I discover (with no line adornment). After an interruption, which occurs far too frequently, I just read the last line to remember what I was doing.–Michael Perry

Listen to your body

I pay attention to my energy levels. When I don’t feel like working during the day, I take a break and exercise.  I don’t stay up late killing time in front of the TV. When my will power is depleted, I go to bed. I wake up early, feeling refreshed.–Cory House

Stay organized

Going to the gym at least 3 times a week, running and hiking. Positive thoughts, quality food, and sleep. And staying organized, of course. iCal is my best friend.–Karoly Nyisztor

Daily list of goals

I start the day out with a written list of micro goals that I would like to achieve. This helps me stay focused and allows me to move to the next task if I run into any roadblocks.–Lee Allen

Be realistic with your time

I have stopped watching TV. I just don't. I watch the occasional movie, but reality/drama/sitcom/whatever TV is eliminated from my routine. I also don't use the words "can't" or "busy", which forces me to make a conscious decision about what I use my time on, as well as gives people the time and respect I need to respond to them properly.–Lars Klint

Alternate work and play

I've found that what I need to do is plan for a week, plan one thing for an evening (eg. this week Wednesday evening is for writing blog posts, Thursday is for working on an upcoming presentation, Friday is for reading, etc.) and making sure that I alternate a couple days of “work” and an evening of something fun. That's sustainable for me.–Gail Shaw

Exercise daily

Exercising daily, focusing on one major goal for each day, and getting eight or more hours of sleep each night. If I skip any of those my productivity nose-dives.–Paul Cunningham

Let your mind wander

When I'm tired from sitting behind a screen for too long, I go for a walk or a cycle and feel refreshed. I do the same when I'm doing creative work (like creating the story for a Pluralsight course). Take time away from work by doing something else and let your mind wander every so often. Most importantly, I try to do the things that make me happy, both in work and in my personal life. That keeps me productive.–Barry Luijbregts

Always have something to write with

Jotting down my thoughts on various topics when they occur. Always have a notebook or something like Evernote at hand. Just because you're busy with something else doesn't mean you don't get creative thoughts on other problems and topics. This results in a treasure trove of notes when starting on new tasks and projects, giving me a great headstart.–Sander Mak

Keep your to-do list on paper

I keep weekly goals in my head - which is easy, as I insist on having one goal per week. If I get behind schedule, then I write a to-do list on paper. I cannot minimize paper—it's always in front of my eyes, and that serves the purpose when things are hairy. I also always have something to write on (e.g. a smartphone). When I collect a lot of thoughts on one topic in one of my OneNote documents, I realize that topic is much easier compared to starting from scratch. I don't chase tasks, but wait until I pile up enough of the solution and then complete it with minimum investment.–Zoran Horvat

So, what's your secret to being smarter?

Share it with us: #SmarterThanYesterday



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