From Ordinary to Extraordinary: Mastering the Habits of Successful People
The habits and daily routines of successful people have long been studied in hopes of uncovering the secrets to their exceptional productivity, wealth, and overall achievement.
While success depends on many complex factors, and means different things to different people, adopting positive habits can provide a strong foundation to build upon.
As Aristotle once said,
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
This article will break down the top 25 habits practiced by highly accomplished individuals across industries like business, sports, and entertainment.
By analyzing the routines of prolific figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, and Michael Phelps, we can extract powerful lessons about optimizing our mornings, time management, focus, health, and personal growth.
With consistency and dedication, integrating even a few of these success-proven habits into your lifestyle can greatly amplify your productivity, satisfaction, and inner fulfillment.
The time to harness the life-changing power of good habits is now.
Consistent small actions shape our trajectories. As Lao Tzu said,
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
- Morning routines set the stage for focused execution all day.
- Effective time management eliminates distractions to double productivity.
- Heightened productivity comes through singular focus, delegation, and rest.
- Professional development requires lifelong learning and skill-building.
- Optimal health habits supply the energy for sustainable high performance.
- Good habits compound, creating momentum. Bad habits impede it.
- Progress takes patience and compassion. Stay committed to the process.
Small choices become your destiny. Your habits manifest your values. Design them purposefully through clarity, consistency and community. Unlock your potential through purposeful daily habits.
Unlocking Success: The Powerful Habits of High Achievers
For an easy read, I’ve broken these top daily habits of successful into five (5) sections:
- Morning rituals
- Time management habits
- Productivity habits
- Professional development habits
- Health habits
Let’s get started…
I. Morning Rituals
The morning habits of successful people act as the foundation for their days. How you start your morning sets the tone and trajectory for the hours ahead.
As leadership guru John C. Maxwell declared,
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily.”
By optimizing their rituals and routines each a.m., highly effective people prime their minds and bodies for peak performance.
Let’s examine the top 5 morning success habits:
1. Waking Up Early
Waking up early allows time for reflection, exercise, planning, and preparation. Many luminaries like Apple’s Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, and GE’s Jeff Immelt rise before 5 a.m.
One study by Thomas Corley found that 50% of self-made millionaires wake up at least 3 hours before their workday begins.
Early risers have more time to enrich their mornings while others sleep. Some benefits include:
- Quiet time to meditate, pray, read, and set intentions
- Focus on important tasks before distractions arise
- Exercise with time to spare
- Preparedness to tackle the day ahead
Follow Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom:
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Engineer your morning schedule to align with your chronotype and allow adequate rest. But challenge yourself to wake up 15-30 minutes earlier than normal and enjoy the fruits.
2. Exercise First Thing
Exercise before work energizes both body and mind. Endorphins improve mood and focus, while increased blood flow boosts mental clarity.
Richard Branson makes exercise his top priority, even before breakfast. Other renowned early exercisers include Michelle Obama, Dwayne Johnson, and Jack Dorsey.
Any movement is beneficial, whether it’s:
Try to break a sweat and get your heart pumping. If your schedule is tight, even 10-15 minutes of bodyweight exercises will suffice. You’ll gain momentum to propel you through the rest of the day.
Meditation and prayer are common amongst history’s elite like Gandhi, Franklin, and Einstein. The benefits are immense:
- Lowered stress and anxiety
- Increased focus and mental clarity
- Deeper self-awareness and insight
- Greater creativity and problem-solving
Set aside just 5-10 minutes each morning. Find a quiet space, get comfortable, and choose a simple meditation technique.
Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer offer great guided sessions. If prayer resonates more, take time to silently speak from your heart.
4. Healthy Breakfast
“Eat breakfast like a king…” goes the old adage. Successful people fuel up wisely to power their best work. Some quick, healthy breakfast ideas:
- Oatmeal with berries and nuts
- Yogurt with granola and fruit
- Veggie omelette with whole grain toast
- Protein smoothie
- High-fiber cereal with almond milk
Avoid sugary options that lead to an energy crash. Hydrate with water or green tea. Set yourself up for steady focus and stamina throughout the day.
5. Planning the Day
The most effective people devote time each morning to plan and prioritize. This prevents wasted efforts on low-value tasks. Steps include:
- Review calendar – Know your schedule and commitments
- Set 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) – Align efforts with top goals
- Visualize plans – Envision how you’ll complete the MITs
- List other tasks – Capture misc. to-dos under each MIT
- Schedule blocks – Assign times to execute each task batch
Advance preparation leads to heightened performance. Follow Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom again:
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Optimizing your morning routine takes some experimentation. Maintain consistency and build one habit at a time.
Soon these practices will become automatic, generating the energy and mindset for your days to shine. Remember – mornings are a dress rehearsal for the grand show ahead!
II. Time Management Habits
After an empowering morning routine, successful individuals leverage productivity habits to make the most of their hours.
As business magnate Michael Bloomberg stated,
“Wasting time is wasting money.”
Managing time wisely is crucial for achievement.
Here are 5 fundamental time management habits of highly effective people:
6. Keeping a Schedule/Calendar
Ultra-successful people plan their days diligently with calendars and schedules. This prevents wasted time and ensures important tasks get done. Steps include:
- Record all commitments – client meetings, conferences, events
- Block time for goals – project work, learning, exercise
- Schedule Focus Time – periods of uninterrupted work
- Assign reminders – for appointments, tasks, breaks
Follow the lead of executives like Elon Musk and Bill Gates who optimize their calendar rigorously. Schedule in time for relationships and rest as well. Master your minutes to fulfill your bigger vision.
7. Making To-Do Lists
Lists help crystallize priorities and serve as a roadmap for action. Every evening, write your 3 MITs for the next day, along with other tasks.
Each morning, review and finalize your list. Tony Robbins starts his days reviewing his 50-100 item list!
To maximize effectiveness:
- Rank items by importance
- Estimate time each will take
- Cross off completed tasks – feels so rewarding!
- Limit lists – 3 MITs and up to 7 more tasks
- Review regularly – stay on track
Lists bring order amidst chaos. Follow the lead of superstars like Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, and Beyonce who use them diligently.
8. Batching Tasks
“Batching” organizes similar tasks into segments:
- Emails – check at set times, not continuously
- Phone calls – make all calls together
- Meetings – group back-to-back
- Errands – complete them consecutively
Batching improves efficiency, energy, and focus. It also prevents draining task-switching. Block time on your calendar for batching.
9. Focusing on Priorities
With so much vying for attention, laser-like focus is a superpower. Successful individuals master ignoring distractions and concentrating fully on one task until completion.
- Work in chunks – for 20-90 focused minutes
- Eliminate interruptions – silence phone, close emails
- Minimize meetings – condense and decline when possible
As Apple’s Tim Cook declared,
“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.”
Stay centered on your most lucrative priorities.
10. Avoiding Distractions/Interruptions
In this hyper-connected world, disruptions are endless: texts, emails, notifications, co-workers stopping by. Each interruption hampers productivity and takes nearly 30 minutes to recover focus.
To maintain traction:
- Set boundaries – make your needs clear
- Politely decline – “Now’s not a good time”
- Disable alerts – on your computer and phone
- Work remotely – avoid office drop-ins
Follow icons like J.K Rowling, who strictly separated writing time from correspondence. Defend your precious focus time vigorously.
Effective scheduling, list-making, and productivity habits will maximize your talent and efforts. In the words of business magnate Warren Buffet,
“You only have 24 hours in a day, make sure you’re focusing your time on what’s important.”
Make every minute count.
III. Productivity Habits
With strong morning routines and time management established, successful people implement further habits to maximize their productivity and output.
As businessman Peter Drucker declared,
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Productivity is about prioritizing the vital 20% of tasks that yield 80% of results. Here are 5 key habits for honing productivity:
11. Single-Tasking vs. Multi-Tasking
While multi-tasking may seem efficient, research shows it diminishes performance on all tasks by up to 40%. High achievers focus on one activity at a time with full concentration. Steps include:
- Turn off notifications and email pop-ups
- Block distractions – close browser tabs, silence phone
- Work in chunks – 25-90 focused minutes per task
- Avoid task-switching where possible
Laser-like attention finalizes tasks faster with higher quality. Be like Bill Gates – a notorious single-tasker.
12. Taking Breaks
Rest restores mental acuity, often leading to creative insights. Successful people incorporate brief breaks to recharge productivity:
- Follow 90-minute rule – work in focused spurts between breaks
- Take short breaks – 5-10 minutes every 90 minutes
- Take lunch break – 30-60 minutes to replenish
- Change scenery – walk outdoors when possible
Breaks must be brief to prevent losing momentum. Use timers and apps to schedule reminders. Protect your precious energy.
13. Delegating When Possible
Delegating aligns efforts with each person’s strengths, freeing up time for higher priorities. Steps include:
- List tasks to delegate – be honest about weaknesses
- Match with team members’ skills – their talent rises
- Provide context and training – set them up for success
- Check progress – without micromanaging
Hone the art of delegation like executives such as Richard Branson. Retain only vital tasks requiring your personal expertise.
14. Automating Repetitive Tasks
Automation handles routine tasks on autopilot so you can focus elsewhere. Explore tools to:
- Schedule social media posts
- Send recurring emails and newsletters
- Manage finances – automatic payments and reconciliation
- Generate reports – using templates
Eliminate tedious minutiae through technology. Even small efficiencies compound over time.
15. Tracking Progress
Consistent tracking ensures important projects remain on pace for completion. Methods include:
- To-do lists – review daily and migrate unfinished tasks
- Kanban boards – visualize workflow stages
- Gantt charts for complex projects
- Journals to record accomplishments
As motivational speaker Tony Robbins maintains,
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
Measure your progress to actualize your ambitions.
With these fundamental habits, you will amplify your output on meaningful work exponentially.
Soon you will embody Thomas Edison’s wisdom:
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment.”
Define your vital 20% and implement the habits to master it with laser focus.
IV. Professional Development Habits
Beyond daily execution, successful individuals continuously hone their knowledge and skills over time through professional development.
As business leader Jim Rohn stated,
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
Learning and growth separate remarkable careers from the average. Here are 5 habits for ongoing mastery:
16. Reading Daily
Reading expands perspectives, sparks creativity, and exposes cutting-edge ideas. Lessons from books compound overtime. Set aside quiet time to read each morning or evening.
To extract the wisdom efficiently:
- Read broadly across disciplines
- Take notes on key insights
- Keep book journal – rate/review books
- Rotate fiction and non-fiction
- Mix mediums – ebooks, audio, paper
- Apply the ideas – act on the lessons
Follow luminaries like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey who immerse themselves in books daily.
17. Setting Goals
Goals transform aspirations into concrete results. Clearly defined goals provide direction and motivation.
Effective goal-setting involves:
- Clarity – Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound
- Balance – across areas like career, health, relationships
- Writing down goals – visualize them
- Accountability – share goals with others
- Reviewing and adapting – adjust as needed
Approach goals like Olympians. Form the goal, then diligently build the skills to achieve it.
18. Taking Classes/Seminars
Successful people recognize lifelong learning is imperative for growth. Dedicate time and funds for courses, conferences, training seminars, mentorships, and other growth opportunities.
Target skill gaps holding you back from the next level. Gain knowledge before you urgently need it. Make learning a consistent habit.
19. Networking and Relationship Building
Strong professional networks provide insight, opportunities, and support. Dedicate time to:
- Attend conferences and events – meet like-minded professionals
- Connect through social media – provide value
- Do informational interviews – learn from their journey
- Offer help generously – build rapport
- Follow up consistently – nurture connections
Expand your circles like thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and Arianna Huffington. Quality relationships enrich work and life.
20. Seeking Mentors
Mentorships with seasoned professionals accelerate success. Identify experts to learn from. Seek:
- Career mentors – to advise your professional path
- Industry experts – to explain inner workings
- Management mentors – to grow your leadership skills
- Personal mentors – for greater self-awareness
Approach mentors with humility and care. Absorb their hard-won wisdom. Mentors multiply your potential for greatness.
Committing to continuous improvement through these habits will expand your capabilities vastly over time, unlocking new levels of contribution and fulfillment.
Follow Leonardo da Vinci’s model – insatiably curious and dedicated to lifelong learning across disciplines. The path to mastery is long but profoundly rewarding.
V. Health Habits
Success requires substantial mental and physical energy over time. As supermodel Christy Turlington declared,
“Taking care of yourself will positively effect everything in your life.”
Health powers peak performance. Let’s explore 5 habits for maximizing wellbeing:
21. Regular Exercise
Exercise improves focus, manage stress, boosts energy, and elevates mood. Any movement is beneficial:
- Cardio – running, biking, swimming
- Strength – weights, resistance bands
- Flexibility – yoga, pilates, stretching
- Walking – 10,000 steps per day
The most successful icons like Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates incorporate exercise habitually. Make time every day – your body and mind will thank you.
22. Adequate Sleep
Sleep fuels the mind. Research confirms most adults need 7-8 hours per night for optimal functioning.
Tips for restful sleep include:
- Establish consistent bedtime/waking time
- Limit blue light exposure in the evenings
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoons/evenings
- Create cooling, dark sleep environment
- Unwind with a buffer before bed – reading, stretching
Prioritize sleep as executives like Arianna Huffington and Jeff Bezos do. With adequate rest, you will have energy to actualize your dreams.
23. Healthy Diet
Diet profoundly impacts energy, mood, and health. While occasional treats are fine, regularly eat:
- Abundant vegetables and fruits
- Lean proteins – fish, chicken, tofu
- Whole grains – brown rice, oats, quinoa
- Legumes – beans, lentils, peas
- Healthy fats – olive oil, avocado, nuts
- Plenty of water – hydrate!
Fuel your body as world-class athletes like Serena Williams and Michael Phelps do. Premium nutrition energizes your work.
24. Stress Management
Progress requires enduring substantial pressure. But chronic stress damages health and performance. Counter it by:
- Regular exercise to clear your mind
- Meditation and deep breathing
- Talking with supportive friends
- Setting boundaries around work time
- Taking regular vacations and breaks
Value serenity like thought leaders Deepak Chopra and Oprah. Inner calm mythurates your greatest work.
25. Work-Life Balance
With demanding careers, successful people vigilantly carve out time for personal connections and passions:
- Set work hour limits – and stick to them
- Defend vacation time – disconnect fully
- Spend time with loved ones – nurture relationships
- Pursue hobbies – for joy and balance
Blend work and life purposefully, following icons like Sheryl Sandberg and Warren Buffet. Thriving across domains multiplies your impact.
By cultivating peak energy and wellbeing across physical, mental and emotional domains, your potential will expand exponentially. Remember, we are human beings, not human doings.
Follow Mother Teresa’s wisdom:
“Take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Support your life’s work by taking exceptional care of your whole self.
VI. The Importance of Good Habits
Now that we’ve outlined the fundamental habits of highly successful people across multiple domains, it’s worth examining why good habits are so invaluable.
Essentially, they provide an optimized system for living and working that sets you up for the greatest likelihood of happiness and achievement. Let’s explore 3 core benefits:
Creating a Foundation for Success
Good habits supply the building blocks to accomplish big goals and live intentionally. Little daily practices compound into remarkable results over time.
Small choices become your destiny. As entrepreneur James Clear declared,
“Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results.”
Your habits create your systems. Establish ones serving your best self.
Increased Productivity and Efficiency
Good habits boost your productivity – prioritizing quickly, concentrating deeply, recovering fully. They minimize wasted efforts on distractions and time sinks.
Energy flows toward what matters most. You tap into more of your potential.
Olympian Michael Phelps put it best: “You have to do the work to get better. You can’t just show up.” Dial in the habits.
Improved Mental and Physical Health
Finally, good habits cultivate the optimal energy and mindset for excellence. Healthy choices compound into fitness, mood stability, cognitive acuity, and biological functioning at peak levels. Work feels effortless.
As entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said,
“Most people want the results, but not the process.”
Embrace the progression of small steps, handled consistently.
In summary, swirling chaos is transformed into positive momentum through deliberate daily habits. The journey becomes clearer and more comfortable. Progress flows.
As industrialist Andrew Carnegie highlighted,
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Have faith in the process – small habits honestly practiced will transform your life immensely.
VII. How to Develop Good Habits
We’ve explored the immense value of positive habits. Now let’s discuss some fundamental principles for consciously shaping habits to elevate your days:
Start Small and Be Consistent
Begin with tiny commitments you can maintain daily. Like droplets shaping a stream, these small steps carve out progressive change. Walk 5 minutes daily. Wake up 15 minutes earlier.
Read 1 chapter each morning. Target consistency first, then expand intensity gradually. As inventor Thomas Edison said,
“Success is the product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
Set Clear Goals
Define your specific habit goals and metrics – walk 30 minutes daily, sleep by 10pm, practice guitar 30 minutes daily. Quantify the behavior so progress is tangible.
Post your goals where you’ll see them. Review them morning and evening to strengthen neural pathways. Clarity and repetition breed motivation.
Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
Your environment moulds your habits. Associate with people lifting you up through their example. Remove toxic relationships bringing you down.
Create surroundings that facilitate your goals – keep guitars visible, put running shoes by the door, remove junk food from the kitchen.
Follow Confucius’ wisdom:
“It is better to surround yourself with people better than yourself.”
Your community shapes your growth.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Share your habit goals with a supportive friend who will check on your progress. Keep a journal to record successes and lapses. Note how improved habits make you feel.
Review regularly to stay on track. Discomfort means you’re advancing. Stay positive yet brutally honest. Progress compounds when we hold ourselves responsible.
Building life-enhancing habits requires patience, tenacity, and self-compassion. Celebrate small wins while aiming for consistency.
Your habits will lift you to heights you can only imagine today. Persevere.
VIII. How to Break Bad Habits
While developing positive habits is invaluable, eliminating harmful ones is equally important for growth. Here are 3 strategies to break the bad habits impeding your progress:
Identify Triggers and Replace with Positive Habits
Pinpoint the cues triggering your bad habit – boredom, stress, loneliness. Then brainstorm healthy alternatives to meet the underlying need.
For example, combat late night snacking by drinking herbal tea to satisfy emotional comfort. Go for a walk or call a friend to ease stress rather than reaching for a cigarette.
Discover your triggers and intentionally redirect.
Seek Support and Accountability
Similar to forming good habits, enlist friends to support your efforts and check your progress. Join online communities pursuing the same positive change.
Confide in loved ones when you feel discouraged. Cheer each other on. Transformation is a team effort.
Stay Committed and Persistent
Change is difficult but impermanent. You will likely falter along the way. When you slip up, get back on track the next day without self-judgment.
Progress isn’t linear. Over time, the old habit will fade as rewards of the new habit manifest. Stay the course. Your perseverance will inspire others.
Be gentle with yourself in the habit change process. Celebrate small wins while progressing toward your brighter future one step at a time.
As author James Clear affirms,
“Streaks are more important than perfect.”
Just keep going. Consistency and compassion create lasting change.
Conclusion – Habits of Successful People
The habits we practice daily determine our growth trajectory. As entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously stated, “Success is neither magical nor mysterious.
Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
- We explored 25 fundamental habits across morning rituals, productivity, time management, professional development, and health cultivated by highly successful people.
- Small consistent actions compound into remarkable results over time.
- Develop positive habits gradually, through clarity, community, and accountability.
- Eliminate harmful habits by identifying triggers and redirecting to constructive alternatives.
- Progress takes patience – stay committed to the process.
- Your habits manifest your values – design them purposefully.
Choose and act upon the habits that will unlock your brightest future. What you do daily matters more than what you do once in a while.
Shape your habits, and allow your habits to shape you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to build a habit?
- Research shows it takes 66 days on average to cement a habit. Stay consistent.
Which habit should I start with?
- Start with easy small wins like making your bed, reading 10 pages, or taking a short walk. Build from there.
What if I break my habit chain?
- Miss one day, then restart the next day. Progress isn’t linear. Streaks matter more than perfection.
How can I stay motivated?
- Share your goals with a supportive community. Review your reasons and progress often. Infuse it with meaning.
What if I don’t see results right away?
- Trust the process. Small compounding actions build extraordinary results over time.
How can I break my worst habit?
- Identify your triggers and consciously redirect to healthy alternatives through accountability. Replace, don’t resist.
How do I prioritize my time?
- Each day, set 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) aligned to your big goals. Schedule time to tackle them.
Through small consistent steps, remarkable growth unfolds. Persevere with patience and compassion. Your habits today become your destiny tomorrow. Design them with care.