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December 16


Kerry Anne Cassidy: Productivity Rituals in leadership and routines of ultra-successful leaders

Productivity Rituals: how to get your priorities completed 

If you are looking to get on top of your never-ending pile of to-do’s but you just don’t know where to start, this article will help you.

I want to introduce you to five simple and easy to implement productivity rituals that ultra-successful leaders practice.  

I also want to zoom in on four seriously successful leaders who have kicked some amazing goals and made their mark on the world.  Some of them you will recognise, others may be new to you.  

My aim is to inspire you into taking action by choosing at least one of these productivity rituals to take out on a test run...

If you've missed the previous articles be sure to have a read over here: Seven Habits for a Happier, More Productive You

After all, as Pablo Picasso once said: “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal.”

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1. Use a Notebook

Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. 

In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, “Always carry a notebook. Write everything down…That is a million dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!” 

Ultra-productive people free their mind by writing everything down.

2. Theme Days of the Week

Kevin Kruse, in his article writes that highly successful people often theme days of the week to focus on major areas to achieve results. 

Jack Dorsey, CEO of both Twitter and Square was able to successfully run both businesses by theming his week, as he explained his secret to being productive while working eight hours a day at each company, in a 2011 interview at Techonomy: 

The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company…Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.

This idea of daily themes is powerful for two reasons. First, it establishes a cadence—a rhythm—of focus and attention. 

Members of the product divisions at both Twitter and Square know that they have only seven days before Dorsey follows up on the questions he asked the previous week, and only seven days before they will have to show forward progress.

Second, daily themes are powerful because of efficiencies associated with grouping like tasks together. Many doctors who work in busy group practices will have one day a week that they schedule all their patients who have diabetes. That day, the nurses and physician assistants consistently tell each patient to take his socks off (in order to check for sores and other complications), to check certain blood levels, ask certain questions.

3. Practice a Consistent Morning Routine

Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, shares, “While most people focus on ‘doing’ more to achieve more, The Miracle Morning is about focusing on ‘becoming’ more so that you can start doing less, to achieve more.” 

If you can optimize your morning routines, you’ve set yourself up to have a productive day ahead of you.

The good news is, we all wake up with a fresh slate each morning, and have the opportunity to make it a great one, no matter how unproductive your previous mornings have been. Some ideas for morning productivity rituals include: nurturing your body  in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast and light exercise. Nurturing your mind with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, and journaling.

Morning Productivity Rituals Of Four Ultra-Successful Leaders

A powerful way to optimize your morning habit is to simply follow what’s working for the successful people you admire.

01 Tony Robbins

If you thought putting on a 60-minute presentation was difficult, meet Tony Robbins. Tony makes a living from putting on 50 to 70 hour presentations over the span of a weekend, and he’s been doing this for the past three decades.

“Tony’s Power Is Superhuman… He’s A Catalyst For Change. I Want To Eat What He Eats, Drink What He Drinks — I Just Want To Do What He Does!” — Oprah Winfrey

Here is Tony Robbins’ morning routine:

a. Priming

The first thing Tony does when he wakes up is priming (instead of meditation, because Tony likes to think, the faster the better because that’s how his brain works).

“Wherever I am, I do not missing Priming.” — Tony Robbins

b. Process

1. explosive change of physiology

  • hot/cold shower
  • breathe 3×30 of 4x inhale/4x exhale
  • pump-up music

2. “getting inside of my body”i.e. feel the sensations of your body, become aware of sounds, feelings, emotions…

c. Gratitude

The last thing Tony does is to be grateful for three things:

  1. First simple things like the wind on my face, then the things you have in your life, your relationships, your loved ones, your health, …
  2. Passions in life
  3. Service to others


If you want to learn more about Tony’s routine, you can read more here. Or, check out his video “Full Hour of Power”:

02 Paul J. Mitchell

DeJoria, the cofounder of Patrón tequila and Paul Mitchell hair products, starts every morning with five minutes of quiet reflection.

“The very second I wake up, I stay in bed for about five minutes and just be.” — Paul J. Mitchell 

During those five minutes, he tries to be truly ‘present,’ and is grateful for what he has. From there, he examines his schedule for the day on his calendar, checks in with his assistants, and takes care of anything urgent such as a phone call.

One thing he doesn’t do: Email.

Paul says that it allows him to focus on the most important things that need his attention most in the early part of the day. Read more about Paul’s routine here.

03 Cheryl Bachelder, CEO Of Popeyes

Like many of us, Cheryl is a fellow night owl, so she designs her morning routines to get her ‘in the right frame of mind for the day.’ She starts her day with music, something she has always done since childhood, which gives her purpose and reminds her of her family. Bachelder then spends time reading in the morning, as well as writing on her blog, when she can find the time.

“To have the energy to lead, we need to be restored and prepared before we get to the workplace.” — Cheryl Bachelder

04 Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin outlined his morning routine by the hour, which you can see below. Much like the other successful people we’ve profiled, Franklin was an avid morning person.

From 5 to 7AM each morning, Franklin asked himself, “What good shall I do today?” which also included addressing the “Powerful Goodness” and setting a plan for the rest of his day.



4. Read for an Hour

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is an avid reader. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book, ranging on topics from politics to current events.

Aside from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge, reading daily has also been shown to reduce stress and improve memory. A 2009 study from the University of Essex revealed that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.

Another big benefit from cracking open a good book on a nightly basis is that it can improve the long term health of your brain. Every time you read, it’s like a mental workout for your mind. This study performed in Britain showed that people who stimulated their minds through activities like reading, reduced cognitive decline by an average of 32% as they got older in age.

5. Create a Power Hour Each Week

When George Shultz was secretary of state in the 1980s, he liked to carve out one hour each week for quiet reflection. He sat down in his office with a pad of paper and pen, closed the door and told his secretary to interrupt him only if one of two people called: My wife or the president,” Shultz recalled.

Shultz, who’s now 96, says that his hour of solitude was the only way he could find time to think about the strategic aspects of his job. Otherwise, he would be constantly pulled into moment-to-moment tactical issues, never able to focus on larger questions of the national interest.

And the only way to do great work, in any field, is to find time to consider the larger questions.

The science of the mind is clear about this point. Our brains can be in either “task-positive” or “task-negative” mode, but not both at once. Our brain benefits from spending time in each state.

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Task-positive mode allows us to accomplish something in the moment. 

Task-negative mode is more colloquially known as daydreaming, and, as Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University has written, it “is responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable.”

David Leonhardt: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/youre-too-busy-you-need-a-shultz-hour.html?_r=1

Questions to Consider:

The benefits of productivity rituals, habits and routines are intensely powerful.  Choose just one to take for a test-run.

As we end off this section, consider:


Which of the productivity rituals, habits and routines I’ve outlined will you try out?


What were your key takeaways from the routines of the ultra-successful?

Developing daily productivity rituals and routines is crucial to your emotional resilience and getting more done each day. The questions above are intended to get you thinking about your own habits and inspire you to test drive a few new ideas in your own daily journey as a leader.

If you enjoyed this article and are serious about developing your influence as a woman in the workplace, find out how I develop Women's Leadership.


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