Long after some of the 20th Century’s most monumental publications on success were released, such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) and Thomas Anthony Harris’s I’m OK, You’re OK, many of today’s most popular business books continue to talk about successful people.
CEOs and other famed business icons from General Electric’s Jack Welch to eBay’s Meg Whitman have imparted to us many of the stories, simple wisdom and basic habits of the mega-successful. While devouring business books by the dozen (and the lessons they contain) might be a pleasurable habit for some, most of us are too busy to get through many.
So we can tell you that one topic that seems to come up often is routines. It seems that major business news outlets talk about the importance of regular routines almost as much as behavioral psychologists do.
Just this month, Madison Avenue advertising and marketing guru Chris Matyszczyk wrote for Inc. magazine about routines, and how they are not just good for the average driven professional, but also something that is essential to genius.
Tipping his hat to business icons like Steve Jobs, as well as cultural ones like Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Jane Austen, Matyszczyk names some of the typical routines of the genius. Some sound refreshingly simple, such as talking long walks and having a quiet place to work. But Matyszczyk also mentions that geniuses, perhaps like the average sales person or corporate worker like to quantify the output of their work too. Even more important, he says, geniuses “ruthlessly separate administration from real work.”
“The geniuses of times gone by didn't have this worry,” Matyszczyk says of busy work. “They could stick to just being brilliant. It sounds like a wonderful life, doesn't it?”
Maybe most of us aren’t striving to be the next literary giant or technology titan but even today’s leaders in both big companies and small experience success by following simple routines.
Forbes spoke to a dozen women leaders in business, including CEOs, screenwriters, designers and sales execs. Some of the women interviewed mentioned the importance of going through lists of the day’s priorities each morning. Others make a habit of correspondence with prospects, customers and networking partners, while many make it a priority in their routines to specify time for “Computer Closed . . . .Make breakfast for family.”
Going a cut deeper into the world of entrepreneurship, Buffer Social spoke to the heads of a few trending startups. Jack Dorsey, CEO of the nearly-universal payment technology firm Square, chooses to work long hours, but blocks out his week by dedicating days to specify areas of his business for both Square and his other company, Twitter. Here’s what his themed week looks like:
Monday: Management and running the company
Wednesday: Marketing and communications, growth
Thursday: Developers and partnerships
Friday: Company culture and recruiting
For some, the age-old morning routine is the most important. People like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Disney CEO Bob Iger rise very early and start with the pleasure of the morning papers, while Vogue’s Wintour makes sure to include an hour of tennis just about every day.
Yet while following mega-successful CEOs on the edge of the tech curve might sound tempting, Buffer Social also points out the wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers, Buffer Social mentions one of the world’s most renowned inventors and entrepreneurs, Benjamin Franklin.
“Evening question: What good have I done today,” Franklin would often ask himself. Being keen on the idea of self-improvement, Franklin was said to “set himself a strict daily routine”, which included non-inventor related endeavors such as making time for “sleeping, meals and working”, as well as nailing down times of the day allotted just for work.
The best thing about instituting routines into your life balance is that they are 100% customizable. No one knows your time, your life and your family better than you do. And, even Psychology Today suggests that routines and setting your own “ideal schedule” are essential.
Regardless of what business or line of work you are in, taking a few moments to develop your schedule of routines can boost productivity and make you more accomplished in your business and personal life.