What makes people very successful mistakes

Successful people follow a simple and efficient daily routine

We are fascinated by billionaires and company founders. Why are they so much more successful than other people? Why can they do as much in an hour as normal mortals do in a week?

It doesn't have to be a secret. When we look at the daily routines of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates or Elon Musk, we discover certain patterns. Best of all, we can just copy them.

This is how successful people structure their day:

1. You do the same thing every morning

High-flyers follow a routine every morning. This is how you start the day in a structured manner. You train yourself to behave in certain ways that your body and mind will remember. Mark Zuckerberg even goes so far as to wear the same t-shirt every day (he has several of them, of course). That way, he doesn't waste time thinking about his outfit.

Successful people usually get up very early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, always sets his alarm clock at 3:45 a.m. Then he starts reading emails. Getting up early doesn't bother him or other successful people. They love their jobs and can't wait to go back to work.

They get their energy kick in the morning, for example by taking a cold shower or exercising. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey goes jogging at 5:30 a.m.

2. Before you start working, reflect

Successful people know where they stand. To keep it that way, don't rush to work straight away. You take ten minutes to think. About the day ahead. And about their bigger plans.

“For the best results, you need to reflect on where you've been, where you are now, and where you want to go,” says employment expert Lynn Taylor.

3. You plan in small units of time

Management consultant and bestselling author Kevin Kruse interviewed more than 200 highly productive people. Including billionaires, Olympic athletes and A's students.

He found that many of them divide their day into tiny units of time. While most people planned in an hourly or half-hourly rhythm, minutes counted for the overperformers, writes Kruse on the US portal "Forbes".

Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told him: "To this day, I keep to an appointment calendar that is planned almost by the minute."

4. You start with the big tasks

Studies have shown that people can only work four or five hours in concentration before productivity slows down. So it would be fatal to spend this valuable time on administrative tasks or answering countless e-mails.

Successful people therefore start with the tasks that require attention and performance. For example, write a text, perform calculations, design strategies.

5. During your lunch break you do everything except work

Working through the lunch break is a mistake. Successful people use their free time to switch off or recharge their batteries. Bill Gates, for example, likes to play cards at lunchtime so that his mind can change his mind.

Warren Buffet spends lunch with a different person every day. Why? Because he has been auctioning his lunch dates to the highest bidder for years. The proceeds go to charities and Buffet profits because he makes interesting new acquaintances.

6. You plan meetings and phone calls for the afternoon

After lunch, many people experience low performance. The body is busy digesting, sometimes the tiredness of a night that is too short overtakes you.

Successful people use this underperforming time for meetings and calls. If they have a fixed date, there are no excuses. "You have to show up for the meeting anyway, and the incentive to go there and talk to others helps you focus," says motivational expert Laura Vanderkam.

7. You plan a problem buffer

A day can never be completely planned. After all, sometimes something unexpected happens that can upset you. Successful people therefore plan a buffer of half an hour, ideally at the end of the working day.

In these 30 minutes they can deal with unforeseen problems and look for solutions. Without brooding over it all day and neglecting other duties.

8. Stay productive after work

Of course, you should relax after work and not work through the night. Successful people still use their time wisely. They deal with projects and interests that move them forward instead of just swallowing up time.

If you ask Elon Musk what the secret of his success is, he says, “I read books”. As a teenager, he is said to have devoured two tomes a day. He has kept his hobby to this day. He uses books for inspiration and to sharpen his character.

Musk has published a list of his favorite books, from “The Lord of the Rings” to Benjamin Franklin's biography.

Other activities will also help you. For example, learn a foreign language, play a musical instrument, draw or collect. Do what adds value to your life.

9. You create the conditions for a healthy sleep

Successful people value a good night's sleep. They know that getting enough sleep makes you productive. That's why they put their laptop and cell phone away in the hour before going to bed. Media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington has even banned all technical devices from the bedroom.

Joel Gascoigne, one of the inventors of the Buffer app, goes for a walk every evening. “This allows me to evaluate the work of the day, think about bigger challenges, gradually stop thinking about work and reach a state of tiredness,” he writes on his blog.

Successful people don't do anything just like that

All these points have one thing in common: Successful people do not just live into the day. Everything they do makes sense. They always rethink their actions. They bring structure and efficiency to their work.

Because everyone can be successful. But success never comes by itself. Billionaires and founders perhaps also have a fascination for us because they have convictions and radiate drive. Imitation is therefore welcome.

This article was published by Business Insider in 2016. It has now been reviewed and updated.