I frequently get asked the question: “How can I become successful?” Now, there are a lot of different components to success like exercise, reading, consistency. However, one thing is clear: insane productivity is the price of success.
Success does not come easy. It demands hard work over a long period of time. But, some people in the world obviously become extremely successful.
The reason why is they’ve paid the price and made productivity a priority.
But before we get there and talk about how they’ve made insane productivity a habit, let’s talk about a common starting point we all have.
Our most valuable resource is time and everyone on Earth has the same amount of it
Time is a necessary component to success. No matter what, you won’t go to sleep one night and wake up successful tomorrow. Success takes repeated work over a prolonged period of time.
But no matter your financial resources, we all get the exact same 24 hours in the day. To be fair, maybe billionaires can pay someone to run errands while most of us cannot.
But the fact remains 7 billion people in the world have the exact same amount of the most valuable resource there is.
Since we all have different levels of success, that must mean we all have different levels of productivity. Said another way, I’m confident that Jeff Bezos gets more done per day than I do.
Productivity increases when success is your only option
Last section, I made the claim that all of us have different default levels of productivity. Some of us are clearly more productive than others. That shouldn’t be controversial or surprising at all.
But here’s the thing: we’re all capable of reaching insane productivity levels.
Think about a time when you procrastinated on something that was important. Maybe it was your taxes, or perhaps an old school assignment comes to mind.
You put it off for a long time, then suddenly right before it was due, you completed the entire thing. It wasn’t fun, but you reached insane productivity and got it done because success was your only option.
If it was your taxes, you had to get them successfully done or the IRS would have come after you!
My guess is you can probably think of quite a few examples where this procrastination story was true. I can think of several myself.
So what does this mean? It means we’re all capable of insane productivity BUT we very rarely are that productive.
That level of productivity just isn’t fun to be at for that long. It’s why we as people naturally procrastinate for a long time. Watching Netflix and seeing friends is objectively more fun than being that productive.
But we are capable of being that productive. What separates the most successful in the world is that they are at insane productivity most of the time. They use their productivity capability more than the average person does.
The most successful in the world spend most of their time at insane productivity levels
Back in my old job, I worked as a consultant to some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world. There’s a story from the first few months on the job that perfectly captures how successful people think about productivity.
One day, my team and I sat down for a several-hour-long meeting with a CEO and his executive team. I was sitting next to the CEO so I could see his laptop screen.
As we went through the meeting, one member of the CEO’s team asked to take a quick bathroom break. The team member was out of the room for five minutes. During that time, most of the people in the room chatted about the weather.
Not the CEO. He had five minutes and was going to use it. He got straight to work on another task on his computer.
I watched, fascinated at how he refused to take even a few minutes to chat. He needed to be productive.
This phenomenon occurred a few more times during the meeting. Every free second, the CEO was working on something else.
Since that day, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting and working with several more CEOs and a couple of billionaires. They all are the exact same: insane productivity in small moments of free time, no matter what.
Billionaires do not waste time, ever. I’ve literally seen one checking things off his to-do list in the four minutes between when he called an Uber and when the Uber arrived.
The takeaway is this: the most successful in our society have made productivity the price they paid for success. Every free minute of time they can spend on work, they do.
How can I increase productivity to reach success faster?
At the start of this piece, I mentioned how Ten Minute MBA is frequently asked how people can become more successful.
The answer is this: find small opportunities of wasted time in your life and turn them into insane productivity moments.
The most successful people in the world have the exact same resource, 24 hours a day, that everyone else does.
What makes them different is how they don’t waste the small minutes of free time they get sprinkled throughout the day.
To reach success, and reach success faster, you need to maximize those opportunities of free time. Here’s just a small list of things you’re probably losing a few minutes to each day:
- Waiting for an Uber (mentioned already)
- Waiting for the bathroom
- Arrived early to a meeting that hasn’t started yet
- In line to get lunch
- While your family brushes their teeth (morning or night)
- While commercials play for your favorite show
Cumulatively, each one of these items might mean just a few minutes lost. But, added up, they end up wasting substantial time each day.
Use your opportunity here to get things done. The four minutes you are waiting for an Uber is probably enough time to place a quick phone call. As a tip: try making a direct call instead of sending a reply to an email. It will save you time and boost your productivity.
You can become successful. The trick is to maximize your productivity. Find those moments of lost time and turn them into something productive. It worked for billionaires and CEOs; it will work for you too.
To our success!