7 Highly Productive Habits of Famous People

Each of the world’s top writers, leaders, actors, composers and business professionals employ unique ways to maintain their productivity– many of which can be easily integrated into our daily lives. Keep reading to see how some of the most recognized names in history stay on top of the tasks that have lead them to fame and fortune.

1. Maya AngelouSeparate your work and home environments:

This author was so strict about separating her home and work lives that, for years, she rented a small, very sparse hotel room where she wrote each day from 7AM to 2PM. The only things she allowed in the room were a Bible, a deck of cards and a bottle of sherry– no other distractions were permitted. A master of single-tasking, Angelou’s diligence lead her to win a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award, three Grammys and many other exemplary awards.

Maya Angelou

2. Beethoven and BergmanRise early, work until midday, take a break:

Like Maya Angelou, a common thread among brilliant thinkers and creative visionaries is an early, powerful start to the day. Ludwig van Beethoven, Ingmar Bergman (a Swedish director/writer/producer), and all of these writers kept the same schedule for decades: waking up before 8AM, working until midday, and then taking time for a meal and– for Beethoven, a long walk or– for Bergman, a short nap.

Ludwig Van Beethoven

3. Ben FranklinRecord your daily successes and frustrations:

Taking the time to write out a summary of your day is a productivity habit that Benjamin Franklin swore by. Every day around 9PM, this Founding Father took the time for his evening question: “What good have I done today?” Another fan of this activity is Steve Rotkoff, a decorated (and creative!) military intelligence officer who kept a lengthy diary of Haikus that detailed his frustrations with the previous day’s events. Making the effort to recap your daily activities can help you prioritize your goals and set a clear roadmap for the upcoming 24 hours.

ben franklin schedule

4. Paul McCartney– Work through your limitations:

As detailed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, The Beatles achieved the “10,000 hour rule” purportedly required for success. By playing more than 300 times a year for four straight years in the same German concert hall, the were able to perfect their art, no matter the conditions. Once, Paul McCartney performed using a right-hand guitar (he’s a lefty)– there was nothing that could stop him and his band from becoming the best.

Paul McCartney

5. Barack Obama– Eliminate unnecessary decisions:

Being the President of any country comes with a never ending, and certainly never trivial to-do list. That’s why President Barack Obama makes every effort to limit unnecessary decision making like what to eat or what to wear. His memos even include a clear decision-making format: agree, disagree, or “let’s discuss.” While being a President is a whole different playing field, the rest of us can adopt this useful productivity habit by making weekly meal plans and setting aside tomorrow’s clothes before going to bed.

6. Kant, Dickens, Darwin– Exercise in the afternoon:

If there’s any common theme we’ve seen when reading about famous peoples’ productivity habits, is that the majority of them work intensely in the morning and leave time for other activities in the afternoon. In this interactive chart, we can see that famous creatives like Franz Kafka, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Richard Strauss have a serious knack for taking afternoon breaks to get some exercise. It’s the perfect equation: exercise your brain in the AM, and your muscles in the PM.

7. Jerry SeinfeldNever break the chain:

Paul McCartney and The Beatles aren’t the only ones known for their repetitious performances– Jerry Seinfeld, in fact, has an entire productivity method named after himself for this same reason. His in early comedy days, he realized that repetition was they key to improvement. He says that “after a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.” Learn how to integrate this productivity method into your life here.

Jerry Seinfeld

Which productivity habit would you integrate into your life? Have you already tried one? Let us know in the comments!

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