The thing that separates successful people from everyone else is their daily routine.
We all have things we do everyday. For some people, it’s drinking a warm cup of coffee first thing in the morning. For others, it’s going for a short run on the treadmill to burn off steam after work.
But what do great, effective, and successful people do that normal people don’t?
“The successful do daily what the unsuccessful do occasionally,” John Maxwell, NY Times bestselling author and popular leadership speaker says.
Successful people often have a personalized daily routine; an agenda geared towards self-reflection and growth that they follow every day.
Those who work intentionally towards daily personal growth create a gap between those who grow occasionally, or don’t try to grow at all. As time goes on, this gap widens and becomes harder, and eventually almost impossible to bridge.
Here are some steps that I’ve learned and compiled from leaders like Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, James Maxwell, Dale Partridge, and others.
1. Prepare the night before.
Before you sleep, reflect on your day and make a plan for tomorrow by creating a to-do list on 3×5 index-cards. Number them and put the most important task first.
2. Begin the day with your priorities.
Before allowing yourself to eat breakfast, complete the first task on your to-do list, which should be the most important. Make sure you don’t linger too long on your meal (30 minutes or so) so that you can quickly move on to the next task.
3. Get into the right mindset, evaluate your goals, and ask great questions.
While attitude isn’t everything, it is one of the most important factors that will impact the outcome of your day. I begin my day by reading an inspirational journal called “Just For Today.” It only takes two to three minutes, but it helps me get into the right mindset. I also look at my weekly goal and then my personal and professional goals for the year so that I don’t lose sight of, or forget, the bigger picture. I also ask myself, “What good will I do today?” Martin Berkofsky, an American classical pianist who performed at venues like Carnegie Hall (who was also my old piano teacher), started his day by watching Charlie Chaplin’s moving speech from “The Great Dictator.” Each person is different – what works for you may not work for me, but it’s useful to compile something that helps you hit the ground running.
John Maxwell follows what he calls the “Rule of 5,” a list of his daily habits:
- Read. I am constantly feeding my mind. I try to read one or two books every week. Some I skim. Others I fully digest. I also listen to podcasts and other audio messages, the best of which I have transcribed.
- File. It’s not enough just to read. The No. 1 time-waster for most people is searching for lost items. Whenever I find a good quote or idea, I file it. That way I can retrieve it within seconds or minutes.
- Write. I help others primarily through books and speeches. That means I need to write continually. Look in my briefcase or on my desk and you’ll find files of material I’m working with to create new lessons and ideas.
- Think. Perhaps the most valuable thing I do every day is stop doing and just think. I evaluate experiences, weigh opportunities, consider how to help my team and ask God for guidance.
- Question. Good questions unlock doors and reveal opportunities. I feel so strongly about this that I wrote a book called “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.”
John encourages others to make their own daily list, tailored towards his/her most important values, goals, and priorities. One great way to learn is to make a list of books you want to read for the year, purchase them, and each time you finish a book, strike through it on your list. The book I’m reading now is Stephen King’s “On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft.”
Self-reflection is one of the most important things we can do, and most people don’t naturally do it. Reflect on your mistakes, your victories, and what you can learn from and improve on. Follow up with the question you asked yourself in the morning — if you asked, “What good will I do today?” ask, “What good did I do today?” Take a look at John Maxwell’s list (minus the goals – those are for you to choose), which he bases around the things important to him. You can use the form I just hyper-linked for yourself. Benjamin Franklin himself went through an intense program of self-evaluation every day, which we can probably assume contributed to his major accomplishments and eventual contribution to the Declaration of Independence.
Moving forward, remember what Zig Ziglar said: “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
Do you have a daily routine you follow? Feel free to leave it for me and others to see in the comment section below.