Recently, Forbes magazine published an article identifying five things that “super successful” people do every morning. According to Forbes, super successful people perform a set of critical tasks that attend to their physical and mental health, as well as their organizational priorities – all before 8 a.m. How’s that for pressure?
Here is my opinion on what is absolutely necessary “before 8 a.m.” for success. I believe if leaders will set three fundamental priorities, they will improve their probability of success. Let’s take a look at each of them.
1. Staying Healthy
In the long run, leaders can’t lead if they’re not healthy. Successful people look after themselves by: eating smart, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Most people focus on the first two and neglect the third. This is a mistake.
Those who know me know that I am a very early riser. That said, I know how many hours of sleep I need in order to function effectively. Different people have different sleep needs. Not everyone can physically sleep for eight hours, and not everyone can function on four hours of sleep. Be honest with yourself about the amount of sleep that is appropriate for you, and make it a priority to get it.
2. Plan Your Day
Take some time to establish a scheduled agenda of items that will bind your time. What meetings do you have to attend? With whom do you need to speak? How much time do you need to commute from place to place? Planning your day will give you a framework around which to operate and schedule items that are time sensitive.
Ideally, leaders create a plan for the following day the night before. Failing that, planning your day should be done by 8 a.m., at the latest.
3. Prioritize Your To-Do List
It seems obvious, but reviewing your daily task list and ranking items in priority sequence is not something that happens naturally, or automatically. Make it a habit.
Setting priorities is not about managing events. It’s a process. The process may be managed daily, but it is one that is heavily influenced by long-term, strategic objectives.
Failing to create a priority list is akin to operating your business like a gunslinger. Gunslingers draw and shoot at issues as they arise. Leaders don’t operate this way. Leaders are deliberate and focused in their execution of long-term goals.
While it is true that to be successful, leaders need to focus on routines that involve their health, their daily plan, and their top priorities, technology has made it harder to put these routines into play. As information is transmitted at a faster pace, and higher volume, it is tempting to simply respond to each new piece of information as it appears. Truly effective leaders don’t do this. They stay focused on the priorities they set, remaining proactive rather than reactive.
For further reading on improving your ability to prioritize and plan for success, please see my other articles 3 Leading Perspectives On Time Management and Why Managing Time As A CEO Is Like Riding A Bicycle.