22 executives share the daily habits that keep them on top

7 Habits of Successful Investors

You might be surprised at the simple things they do to succeed.

The most successful people I know share some common traits. They tend to get up early, stay in front of health issues, and know how to handle money. They get quality sleep, play hard and stay sharp through continuous learning. They also stick to certain routines proven over time to work. Check out these quotes from 21 successful executives who credit simple daily habits for helping them get ahead in business and life.

1. Go for a walk.

"I live in San Francisco, a beautiful city to walk around in. Every day I try to walk somewhere, whether purposefully to head to a meeting, or simply roaming aimlessly along the waterfront. No matter where I am walking, I always use the time to multi-task by perhaps calling a friend, thinking through ideas for new blog posts or articles, or practicing an upcoming speech. I don't, however, read email or text while I walk."
--Ruth Ross, speaker, author of "Coming Alive: The Journey to Reengage Your Life and Career," and engagement evangelist, addressing the epidemic of employee disengagement in Corporate America.

2. Make sleep, exercise and meditation non-negotiable requirements.

"Each day, I wake up at the same time--7 days a week--regardless of what time I go to sleep. The science behind sleep tells me that this ensures the best quality sleep in subsequent nights. Every morning, I meditate, some days for five minutes, other days for 20 minutes. I exercise at least five mornings a week, and often have a coffee with my wife, or while reading the paper. This means before I start my workday I have set up my mind and body for clear and positive thinking. I prioritize these practices to set myself up for success." --Stuart Taylor is founder and CEO of The Resilience Institute, which guides organizations, leaders and individuals to see opportunity instead of adversity.

3. Take time to laugh.

"I take time out of every day, usually at night when my mind is still racing with thousands of work tasks, to laugh out loud. It's as simple as watching a funny prank video on YouTube, but this daily practice clears my mind and eliminates stress.
--Daniel Young, co-founder of the awarded property investment group BInvested and owner of 70+ investment properties.

4. Turn on airplane mode.

"Every morning I make it a point to leave my phone on airplane mode for a minimum of an hour after I wake up so I can spend quality uninterrupted time with my wife and 11-month old daughter. During that time, I am in the playpen singing songs, reading stories and dancing. Apart from starting the day by being surrounded by the people you love, this also has the additional benefit of ensuring your day begins in a playful, creative space, which often leads to innovation in your business. Your mornings should be held scared because they set up your mindset for the rest of the day. So do not allow them to be hijacked by someone's thoughts via email, social media, news bulletins or the radio." --Ben Harvey, founder of training company Authentic Education.

5. Put away 10 percent.

"Every bit of money that comes in I put aside 10 percent of it. This enabled me to get out of $187,000 of debt. This is money is not for a rainy day but just for you. When you pay yourself first with the 10 percent account, you are demonstrating your willingness to value yourself. Once it gets up to a certain amount you can have fun with it and buy items of intrinsic wealth that continue to increase value over time, such as gold, silver or platinum... Antique jewelry and sterling silver are examples of intrinsic wealth that also have the added bonus of contributing something beautiful to your life. Do not spend your money on anything that devalues over time or that costs money to maintain--like a car or house-- and you will be on your way to having a totally different financial reality." --Simone Milasas, global business mentor and author of "Joy of Business."

6. Bring back the timeless art of journaling.

"Journaling has changed my life. For me, it is a spiritual practice that has true meditative value. I usually just start by writing down what is going on, how I am feeling, any challenges I am carrying, and exploring solutions. It gives me a chance to reconnect and rejuvenate. Whenever I put down the pen I feel clear, centered, aligned and empowered. In a world where there is so much noise, to give time and space to your own voice is one of the most beautifully empowering experiences I have found."
--Jack Delosa, author, investor and founder and CEO Of The Entourage, Australia's largest educator and community of entrepreneurs.

7. Start the day with a question.

"I start my day with a question: 'Where do I need to put my attention today?' I run several businesses, one of them is in 173 countries and I work with people all over the globe. Asking this question allows me to connect with the people who can aid in achieving that day's target goals quickly. It also empowers others to recognize the awareness they have and how they can contribute to the business."--Gary Douglas, international best-selling author, investor, antique collector and founder of the personal development company, Access Consciousness.

8. Take time every day to remember why you are doing this.

"I deliberately take time each day to remember why I do what I am doing. This keeps me passionate and helps me to keep others fired up. That fire needs to be tended or it becomes just a job where you are going through the motions." --Matt Schiltz, CEO of Conga, a suite of cloud-based document generation and reporting applications for Salesforce.

9. Start with "good morning."

"The first thing I do every morning when I arrive at work is walk through the building and say 'Good morning' to everyone. The day can be consumed by many impersonal connections--email, text, and conference calls--and I want to ensure that every colleague and employee has the opportunity to speak to me in person about what's on their mind." --Devin Koskan, founder and CEO of KosLo, an online vehicle brokerage company.

10. Smile.

"I make it a point to keep a smile on my face and have a 'make it a great day' attitude every time I walk through that office door. I believe your office shouldn't be any different than your home in how you treat people and treat life. If you're grumpy and nasty no one wins. Besides, who doesn't like to be happy?" --Edward Sota, president and cofounder of Safeguard Financial Services and a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group.

11. Don't take work home.

"It is tempting to blur the lines between a work-life balance by bringing home work. When you do, it seems either work or life suffers. When you're home, be home--spend time with family, rest, and recharge the batteries for the next day. You can't always be at 100 percent. Surprising at it may seem, I find I am more productive at the office when I don't take tasks home."--Alex Sutherland, registered investment advisor for LifePlan Group, a financial planning firm specializing in retirement planning which has doubled its client base each of the past three years.

12. Have meaningful conversations with your colleagues.

"I make a point to have a significant conversation with one to two employees every day to learn about what they're working on and get to know them better. This is something everyone can do. By having a meaningful conversation with one or two people outside of your department on a daily basis, you gain a much clearer picture of how your work impacts the rest of the company. This not only motivates others around me, it helps me understand what is happening on the ground level of the organization." --Rajeev Behera, CEO of the modern performance management company Reflektive, which was funded by Andreessen Horowitz in 2015 and has since signed 100+ customers.

13. Practice being approachable.

"As a leader, I go out of my way to try to talk to and have genuine interactions with a variety of people in my company on a regular basis. I recognize that success can change how my team interacts with me, and I work hard to make sure I remain approachable, and that people feel comfortable being themselves around me."
--Steve Conine, co-chairman and cofounder of online home store Wayfair.

14. Invest in relationships.

"No matter what industry or lifestyle, never take friendships for granted and nourish the ones you have. Doing something kind for someone without the expectation of receiving something in return can have a profound, long-term impact with your customers, colleagues and friends. --Kent Atherton, founder and CEO of Bloc Enterprises, which owns the exclusive rights to distribute the smoking cessation product NicoBloc in the United States.

15. Soul search.

"I have learned that it is most important to dig deep and to search within yourself. I like to make a vision board and place it somewhere in my office. I cut out multiple pictures or statements from magazines articles and place it on a board. The key is to vision that you already have these items or way of life. On my first vision board I wrote myself a check for $10,000,000 and would stare at it daily. It would encourage me to maximize my productivity and to reach further to achieve my goals. --Dave Cantin, board member with Columbia University's Hope & Heroes Children's Cancer Fund, and former VP of Brad Benson Hyundai, New Jersey.

16. Juggle another ball.

"Many of us in this constantly changing world self-identify as jugglers with many projects in the air. When one is caught, good news but keep on juggling. If all come down at the same time it is disaster. A typical response is to focus by cutting the number of balls in the air, presumably reducing the probability of failure and increasing the probability of success. I do just the opposite, resolved every day to initiate a new idea, to fling another ball into the dynamic circle of our enterprise, thereby testing our limits, keeping our ideas fresh, and extending our personal and public perception of a small, dynamic, innovative enterprise that gets things done. The greatest compliment is the observation 'I just don't understand how you can do so much.' This real and apparent energy drives our connections again and again, building partnerships and networks through outreach and performance." --Peter Neill, director of the World Ocean Observatory, an online place of exchange of information and educational services about the ocean.

17. Rise early to take advantage of the quiet.

Multitasking is myth. Most tasks are best accomplished with singular focus, yet constant interruptions abound during business hours. From 5:30 to 7:30 in the morning, silence is my assistant. The quiet fertilizes my thoughts and brings clarity to my vision. I generate more ideas in those early hours than all the 9 to 5 hours combined. --Leah Miller, CEO of Red Anchor Wealth Management, a company that creates custom retirement coordination of the major impactors of modern retirement, such as Medicare, Social Security, pension, 401(k) distribution, and investments.

18. Prioritize your time.

"I start reorganizing and tackling the most challenging and toughest priorities first thing in the morning instead of later in the day. A lot of people take the most difficult ones and push them off as long as they can which causes them to stress out about it all day. Instead I like to take those head on and knock them off my list. It makes the rest of your day seem like a breeze. It's all about consistently knowing what your list of priorities is and being able to communicate to your staff when they have changed so there is no confusion. Anything is manageable if you learn to prioritize effectively."
--Joshua Mellberg, CEO of J.D. Mellberg Financial. His financial videos have been downloaded and viewed more than four million times over the past year, with an average of 350,000 visitors each month.

19. Decompress from the day before going to bed.

"Every night I mentally unwind by doing something relaxing before going to bed. I also make sure my bedroom remains a work-free zone. If I have ideas or thoughts for the next day I jot them down before going to sleep, then review them the next day. Having a soothing bedtime ritual helps release the stress from the day and makes it easier to get a good night's sleep. I feel energized and ready to go when I wake up in the morning." --Donna L. Hamilton, bestselling author and chief wellness officer of Manifest Excellence, a holistic health promotion company that helps companies increase employee productivity and engagement through improved workplace wellness.

20. Practice super responsiveness with email.

"Every night and first thing before I get out of bed in the morning I respond to all emails even if it is to say, 'I read your email and I will have a response for you in the morning or later today.' I believe in being respectful and I feel being responsive is one of the most important elements in showing a person you care about what they have to say and the job they are doing." --Nicole McMackin, president of Irvine Technology Corporation, a national IT staffing and solutions firm.

21. Reinvest in yourself.

"Many times when people become financially successful they look outside of their own world into business they don't understand as investment opportunities. All the while they are sitting on the best investment they know, their own business. That is where their investment should go; it's the only investment opportunity they have where they can personally control the outcome." --Dr. Vladimir Alexander, orthopedic surgeon and founder of Alexander Orthopaedic Associates.

22. Crowdsource the to-do list.

"During a weekly staff meeting, I generate a to-do list and assign a person to follow up the task. All aspects of our business are open for discussion at this meeting. Each day I go through the list and code it as to completed or not. Then the following Monday we go through each open item and update the progress and add any new items. It doesn't get any lower tech than this, but it's a highly effective way to keep up with both the small and the large tasks in the company." --Susan Schlapkohl, cofounder of InterVac Design Corp, a manufacturer of specialty vacuum cleaners for the RV industry.

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22 executives share the daily habits that keep them on top

Since most of us have access to the internet at work, it's easy to get sidetracked looking up the answer to a random question that just popped into your head.

That's why Quora user Suresh Rathinam recommends writing down these thoughts or questions on a notepad. This way, you can look up the information you want later, when you're not trying to get work done.

While many people believe they're great at doing two things at once, scientific research has found that just 2% of the population is capable of effectively multitasking.

For the rest of us, multitasking is a bad habit that decreases our attention spans and makes us less productive in the long run.

Constant internet access can also lead people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time you do this, you lose up to 25 minutes of work time. What's more, the constant checking of email makes you dumber.

Instead, strategy consultant Ron Friedman suggests quitting Outlook, closing email tabs, and turning off your phone for 30-minute chunks of deep-diving work.

Whether it's a new diet, workout routine, or work schedule, one of the most difficult things about forming a new habit is the urge to cheat as a reward for sticking to a routine for a while.

This idea that we "deserve" to splurge on fancy meal after being thrifty for a week is called "moral licensing," and it undermines a lot of people's plans for self-improvement.

Instead, try making your goal part of your identity, such that you think of yourself as the kind of person who saves money or works out regularly, rather than as someone who is working against their own will to do something new.

People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave their more difficult work for later. This is a bad idea, and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all.

As researchers have found, people have a limited amount of willpower that decreases throughout the day. That being the case, it's best to get your hardest, most important tasks done at the beginning of the day.

Nothing disrupts the flow of productivity like an unnecessary meeting. And with tools like email, instant messenger, and video chat at your fingertips, it's best to use meetings for introductions and serious discussions that should only be held in person.

BlueGrace Logistics founder Bobby Harris recommends that people don't accept a meeting unless the person who requested it has put forth a clear agenda and stated exactly how much time they will need. And even then, Harris recommends giving the person half of the time they initially requested.

Nilofer Merchant, a business consultant and the author of "The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy Paperback," shares with TED audiences how she's helped several major companies develop successful new ideas: walking meetings.

She recommends forgoing coffee or fluorescent-lighted conference-room meetings in favor of walking and talking 20 to 30 miles a week.

"You'll be surprised at how fresh air drives fresh thinking, and in the way that you do, you'll bring into your life an entirely new set of ideas," she says.

It might feel like pressing the snooze button in the morning gives you a little bit of extra rest to start your day, but the truth is that it does more harm than good.

That's because when you first wake up, your endocrine system begins to release alertness hormones to get you ready for the day. By going back to sleep, you're slowing down this process. Plus, nine minutes doesn't give your body time to get the restorative, deep sleep it needs.

This isn't to say you should cut back on sleep. As Arianna Huffington discusses in her TED talk, a good night's sleep has the power to increase productivity, happiness, smarter decision-making, and unlock bigger ideas. The trick for getting enough sleep is planning ahead and powering down at a reasonable time.

Some people think having lots of goals is the best way to ensure success — if one idea fails, at least there are plenty more in reserve to turn to. Unfortunately, this sort of wavering can be extremely unproductive.

Warren Buffett has the perfect antidote. Seeing that his personal pilot was not accomplishing his life goals, Buffett asked him to make a list of 25 things he wanted to get done before he died. But rather than taking little steps toward completing every one of them, Buffett advised the pilot to pick five things he thought were most important and ignore the rest.

Many ambitious and organized people try to maximize their productivity by meticulously planning out every hour of their day. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned, and a sick child or unexpected assignment can throw a wrench into their entire day.

Instead, you might want to try planning just four or five hours of real work each day, that way you're able to be flexible later on.

With that being said, you should take time to strategize before attempting to achieve any long-term goals. Trying to come up with the endgame of a project you're doing midway through the process can be extremely frustrating and waste a huge amount of time.

Harvard lecturer Robert Pozen recommends that you first determine what you want your final outcome to be, then lay out a series of steps for yourself. Once you're halfway through, you can review your work to make sure you're on track and adjust accordingly.

The LED screens of our smartphones, tablets, and laptops give off what is called blue light, which studies have shown can damage vision and suppress production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle.

Research also suggests that people with lower melatonin levels are more prone to depression.

More often than laziness the root of procrastination is the fear of noting doing a good job, says British philosopher and author Alain de Botton on his website, The Book of Life.

"We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well … And that can take time," he writes.

The only way to overcome procrastination is to abandon perfectionism and not fuss over details as you move forward. Pretending the task doesn't matter and that it's OK to mess up could help you get started faster.


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