We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
When you see certain individuals achieve a level of unimaginable success, it’s not because they have more hours in the day than you. It’s because somehow they’ve figured out how to deploy those hours in a way that is more effective and more productive, and allows for compounding results.
Whether your goal is to take your career to the next level or to just have more control over your personal schedule, these are the 10 life hacks you absolutely need to implement in your daily routine:
1. Set alarms for everything.
I know I’m not the only person who lives by the mantra, “If it’s not in my mobile calendar, it doesn’t happen.”
Success tends to be the result of being able to manage more with less–meaning you can handle 10x the responsibilities of most people, but with the same (or even less) effort. This goes back to the idea of working smart, not hard.
So, with an increase in responsibilities, you can’t expect yourself to remember everything. In fact, it’s a waste of brainpower. Just set reminders and show up when you need to. It’s that easy.
2. If someone wants to schedule a call, send a Google calendar invite.
Building on the above, if someone emails you requesting a call–or if you email someone to schedule a call–always, always, always send a Google call invite.
Not only does this ensure you don’t forget, but it ensures the other person won’t forget either. And more than that, it shows you’re on top of your game.
You’re organized, and you’re going to be there when you say you’re going to be there.
3. Chunk your activities together–don’t bounce between different tasks.
Do you have tons of calls this week? See if you can move them all to one afternoon, back to back to back.
Do you have a bunch of video editing to do? Do it all in the morning, instead of doing some now and then some later.
Do you need to think through a big pitch for a potential client? Block off an evening to focus on that and only that.
By performing related tasks one after the other, you’re able to move so much faster. The reason is that you get in your flow for that one specific type of activity. Whereas, if you have a call, then try to edit a video for 40 minutes, then respond to two emails, and then hop on another call, by the time it’s 2 p.m. you’re going to be brain-dead and exhausted.
4. Don’t start your day by answering emails. Start with your hardest tasks.
Most entrepreneurs that live by this golden rule.
When you start your day by checking your inbox, you immediately put yourself in a reactive state. You’re reacting to the day, to other people’s requests, instead of setting out to get done what you know you need to get done, first.
Instead, start your morning with a tough task. Work through the hard stuff earlier on, and save the mind-numbing email tasks for lunch or later in the day. But don’t waste those precious morning hours responding to other people’s requests.
They can wait. (And that’s not out of disrespect–just an awareness of protecting your time.)
5. Do free work for someone you very badly want to learn from.
This is a severely undervalued professional life hack.
I am a firm believer in doing free work in exchange for the opportunity to learn. Most people don’t think this way. They reach a certain level of success or status within their career and refuse to play that “intern” role ever again.
I’ll be an intern for the rest of my life if it means learning the things I want to learn.
I would much rather sacrifice a short-term financial gain for a long-term knowledge gain. Even today, there are people I work with for free purely because they know things that I want to learn, specifically from them.
And you know what’s funny?
If you’re good at what you do, that free work almost always leads to bigger and better opportunities.
6. Save more than you spend.
Most people don’t task risks–personally and professionally–because of money.
For example, a lot of people don’t leap from your 9 to 5 to do something they really enjoy purely because they can’t stomach the financial risk. They don’t have enough saved up to make that sort of decision comfortably.
OK, why don’t you have enough saved up? Probably because you spend more than you save.
Having money in the bank is what allows you to take risks, build bigger ideas, and ultimately live a more fulfilling life. So, by any means necessary, work toward a lifestyle that allows you to save more than you spend.
This, in itself, will change your outlook on life.
7. Build your personal brand online.
Do you want to know the single most powerful professional life hack out there?
Having a personal brand.
When people know who you are, they reach out to you.
When people know what you’re all about, opportunities come your way.
When people know what value you can provide, they want to work with you (and only you).
And all of those things come as a result of sharing what you know and putting yourself out there–a.k.a. building a personal brand.
Whenever I explain this concept to people, the majority see it as a cost. “But it will take a long time for people to know who I am and what I do,” they say.
And they’re right. It’s definitely an investment. But it’s an investment that pays returns you will never see by continuing to approach business one coffee conversation at a time.
Building a personal brand allows you to scale your knowledge. And that’s power.
8. Schedule time to relax.
Having commitments from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. is not realistic. And it’s also not sustainable.
A better long-term model (to ensure you don’t burn out, crash, and then spend a week recovering) is to deliberately schedule time to relax. If you have calls all morning, give yourself an hour to go grab lunch uninterrupted. If you have a crazy week, spend your weekend doing something to recharge.
Laddering up in life means playing the long game.
9. Delegate as much as possible.
If you value an hour of your time at X, then anything below that cost, outsource.
Delegation is one of the only ways you can really scale your time. And a lot of people struggle to delegate for two reasons:
If you want to be a one-person show, then by all means, keep doing everything yourself. But if you want to scale your time and build something bigger than yourself, then you’re going to have to let go of some of that emotional attachment.
10. The more successful you get, remind yourself to stay open and humble.
Here’s a life hack most business people never talk about.
Let’s say you start achieving a ton of success in your life. You go from being that young and hungry entrepreneur to an industry superstar.
For most people, this is where ego gets involved. They start seeing themselves as better than everyone else. They take fewer meetings, answer fewer calls. They distance themselves from the world, because they feel like they have nothing left to prove.
That’s a fast track to closing doors of opportunity.
The bigger you get, and the more success you find, the more you have to work to stay open and humble. Continue to say, “Sure, I’d love to grab coffee” with people who reach out (assuming you can realistically make the time). Continue to answer calls, hop on smaller podcasts, share what you know, and give back.
Giving, in itself, is a life hack that people forget exists. The more you give, nine times out of 10, something good comes back.
Published on: Nov 28, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.