TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Insanely Productive Habits of Successful People

Making list
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Make lots of lists as soon as you get to the office

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint at heart. Founders must forge their own path, gather resources and take on huge financial risks – all in the hopes of avoiding the fate that 80 to 90 percent of startups suffer: failure.

So to be successful, entrepreneurs really have beaten the odds – especially young entrepreneurs. Starting with almost no wealth, network or business experience, many create more success in a few years than most people do in their entire lifetime.

To understand what they do differently, we interviewed several young entrepreneurs from this year’s Empact Showcase, an annual program highlighting the power these founders and their companies play in the community.

Rather than focus on generic insights or basic hacks, we looked at unique, concrete habits you can immediately adopt in your life and business that can have a game-changing impact.

Create a regimented schedule.

My overarching goal is to be consistent in my schedule, and as a result, I live a lifestyle that allows me to maximize the amount of work I get done. I believe this type of prioritization has made a huge impact on how quickly Fueled has grown.

My dinner ends at 11 p.m., and I always have a solid work session afterwards until 3:30 a.m. Setting aside a block of time in my schedule for uninterrupted productive creation is vital to my work process. It’s when I answer emails and do my thinking around bigger ideas without any distractions. Then I go to bed every day at exactly 4:00 a.m. and typically wake up without an alarm clock.

Other people might want to focus on other areas, like family, but a consistent schedule is key.

—Founder Rameet Chawla of Fueled

Ask yourself this question before going to bed.

Every night before bed, I think about this question: If I live every day the same way I did today, what kind of future would that create? It forces me to constantly evaluate whether or not my actions are lining up with my priorities. The future is shaped one day at a time, and it’s never as far away as we think.

—Co-founder Jesse Lear of V.I.P. Waste Services

Related: 6 Suggestions for an Aspiring Entrepreneur

Take an adventure walk every weekend to connect the dots.

Every weekend, I go on a long hike in a place that I’ve never been before. I do the research in advance and sometimes, I drive as far as an hour away. My hikes are anywhere between one and four hours long. I take an old-school composition notebook with me, and I let the thoughts come; I don’t force anything.

The habit helps to relieve stress and unpack the ideas from the week. It’s kind of like meditation. By constantly evaluating ideas and how they fit into your business, you can slowly render them into reality and watch your imagination unfold.

As an added benefit, research in the new field of inactivity studies shows that moving around daily is critical to health. In fact, sitting for an hour is worse than smoking two cigarettes, according to another study.

—Founder Ryan Kania of Advocates for World Health

Take a hot-cold contrast shower every morning.

My most unique personal habit is the hot-cold contrast shower. I’ve done it every morning, no matter where I’ve lived or what hotel I’m staying in, for 14 years. By doing 30 seconds of ice cold water, followed by 30 seconds of hot, then 30 seconds of cold water (always ending with cold water), I gain the energy and clarity to start my day feeling refreshed.

To get started in this habit do a normal shower. Then crank the water as cold as it goes for 30 seconds. Then crank as hot as you can stand it for 30 seconds.Then ice cold for 30 seconds (this cold-hot-cold is one cycle).

I’d start with one cycle for the first time. If it’s too much, try it on the legs first. (That’s what my girlfriend does; she also thinks I’m crazy.)

Not convinced? Learn about the research behind cold showers.

—Founder Phil Dumontet of Dashed

Related: 6 Things I Wish Somebody Had Told Me When I Started My Small Business

Reflect on critical open questions through different lenses.

Most of the technologies we’ve ended up inventing and developing, and most of the strategies we’ve ended up pursuing, have been borne by a long cultivation of an open question, followed by the nurturing of a slow hunch. I am able to tolerate open questions for months, or years. Open questions could include queries about how to find a co-founder for your business idea when people have their own interests and projects to work on or how to sell your new product to an entity that is typically averse to risk (Answers: Work with them on their projects to show your worth and tempt them with interesting questions; show how to dramatically reduce a risk they already bear.)

Usually, the simple answers that come quickly do not satisfy me. But instead of giving up or forgetting it, I work at the problem each day from different angles, under different lenses — which can include but are not limited to: looking at extremes, considering what essential assumptions are and how to test them, and discovering how a different industry might solve a problem. Eventually I find some real traction with an idea that seems novel and has a good chance of working.

—Co-founder Danielle Fong of LightSail Energy

Set three specific goals weekly and monthly — and ignore everything else.

There are a million things you can do to improve your business. The problem is, if you try to fix or improve them all at once, you end up not making much progress in any of them.

You need to be relentless in following your goals. At least once a day, I find myself asking, “Is what I’m working on directly helping one of the three goals?” It’s easy to distract yourself with tasks that aren’t critical. You just need to stay on top of it. This helps us accomplish big things quickly.

To hold ourselves accountable and stay on the same page, we have weekly meeting on Fridays. During these meetings, our company sets the goals for the upcoming week and see where we are on the previous week’s goals. It’s a lot easier to say “what went wrong this week” then “what went wrong this quarter”

—Co-founder Patrick Ambron of BrandYourself

Related: The Best Business Advice You’ll Ever Get

Make lots of lists as soon as you get to the office.

My habit is that I create lists for everything for one hour as soon as soon I get to the office every morning or the day before at the end of the day. I record these lists in Notes on my iPad, computer, and iPhone. I also use Gmail Tasks so I can link my lists to emails.

It forces me to think through my day, my week, my year, and my long term plan before beginning to execute. This improves my organization and clarity. In the past, I got caught up with the day-to-day details, and I took my mind off of the big goals.

There is a great YouTube video that I love, which inspired me to start the habit.

–Founder Jonathon Nostrant Of ivee


Forming the right habits is critical to success as an entrepreneur. In fact, 40 percent of our daily behaviors happen automatically as a result of our habits according to researchers at Duke University. So, if you choose the right behaviors to turn into habits, you’ve just supercharged a large portion of your day.

What is the single biggest productivity habit that has created the most impact in your life?

Related: 5 Characteristics Shared by the Most Successful Organizations

TIME Retail

Walmart Apologizes for Advertising ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ on Its Website

"This never should have been on our site," a spokesperson says

Retail giant Walmart caused a stir on Monday, after a listing for plus-size Halloween outfits appeared on their website under the heading “Fat Girl Costumes.”

The retail chain quickly backtracked, issuing an apology before changing the heading to “Women’s Plus-Size Halloween Costumes.”

“This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize,” a spokesperson for the company said. “We are working to remove it as soon as possible and ensure this never happens again.”

A Twitter user named Kristyn Washburn first brought the slipup to the public’s attention with this tweet, People reported:

The widespread outrage caused by the ill-advised labeling made “Fat Girl Costumes” a top trend on the micro-blogging site, with several other users expressing their indignation:

Jezebel, which first reported the story, speculated that it might have been an inside joke by the site’s developer that wasn’t corrected before going live.


TIME Basketball

Exclusive First Look: LeBron James’ Debut Car Ad

Can the NBA superstar sell $66,000 cars?

Two weeks ago, LeBron James and Kia announced that they had reached a multi-year endorsement agreement for the Kia K900, the auto company’s first official foray into the luxury market. The MSRP for the K900: $59,900. The fully-loaded VIP version costs $65,500. Here’s a first look at the debut commercial spot, which will air Tuesday night during TNT’s coverage of the NBA’s opening night games.

Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications for Kia Motors America, says the car is an attempt to “change America’s perception about what a Kia product is all about.” Kia’s most popular model, the Optima, is a midsize car. Chaney says Kia wasn’t in the market for new endorsers until James’ representatives called Kia after the K900 was first released earlier in the year. James was familiar with the Kia brand: the Seoul-based manufacturer has been the official auto partner of the NBA since 2008, and is expected to announce the renewal of its NBA deal on Tuesday.

James has received a Kia for winning each of his four MVP awards (he has donated the cars to charity). James liked the look of the K900, so his reps asked if Kia could send him one to drive around. “When LeBron James says he’s interested in your luxury sedan, you’re happy to leave a car with him,” says Chaney.

Chaney says his research found that James ranked in the top 1% of celebrity influencers, even for older, more affluent customers who typically buy luxury cars. “He pretty much transcends the NBA, and connects with everyone,” says Chaney. “It’s a natural fit for us.”

Is it a fit for James? This is his first car deal: he likely could have hooked up with more established luxury brands. “You don’t think that LeBron James and Kia go hand-in-hand,” says Ben Sturner, President and CEO of Leverage Agency, a sports marketing firm. “Mercedes, Lexus would seem to make more sense. But if you look a little deeper, there are clear benefits for him.” Kia advertises heavily during the NBA season, so the deal broadens his exposure even more. More importantly, if James can help Kia establish itself in the competitive luxury car market, it speaks to his power as an endorser. This can become the “LeBron car.”

LeBron may have a much harder time moving $66,000 Kias than winning games with his new team in Cleveland. Kia sold just 1,106 K900s in the U.S between March and September; BMW sold 32,081 of its 5-Series sedans during that period, while Mercedes moved 43,071 E-Class luxury cars. But it’s still very early in the game: the K900 just hit the market in March. And even if LeBron doesn’t sell the top-shelf stuff, Kia can benefit from a trickle-down effect.

“If LeBron James can drive a $66,000 Kia,” Sturner says, “it’s OK for someone else to drive the $18,000 one.”


This Ridiculously Romantic Ad Aims to End Divorce

A Chinese shampoo commercial doubles as a pitch for couples to stay together

In today’s overly ambitious advertising era, a shampoo ad that merely touts its ability to combat split ends is severely lacking. Rather, haircare marketers must also aim to end sexism in the workplace and, according to a new Chinese spot, divorce.

Leo Burnett Hong Kong created a commercial for Procter & Gamble’s Rejoice shampoo that acts as a marriage counselor. The four-and-a-half minute long ad, which the ad agency claims has been viewed 40 million times in a month, follows a couple on the brink of divorce. But the wife (who, if we may, has some great hair going on) will only sign the papers under one condition: Her husband must agree to hug her every day for a month.

Thus begins a rom-com (minus the com) in which the wife makes her husband travel to different landmarks from their relationship — where he proposed, where they shared a first kiss, where they met — and asks for that hug. While there are no scenes of hair-washing prior to their encounters, things escalate on the husband’s end from wistful hair stroking to full-on hair smelling.

You can probably guess how things end. (Hint: The official hashtag for the campaign is #IBelieveInLoveAgain).

The spot is cinematographically beautiful and acts public service announcement of sorts. Rejoice claims that of 3 million Chinese couples who divorced last year, 100,000 reconciled.

We wonder if any of them had stringy hair.

TIME Companies

Twitter Stock Tumbles After Drop in User Engagement

Timeline views per user, a key measure of user engagement, dropped 7%

Twitter reported a drop in user engagement and projected lower-than-expected revenue, sending its stock price plummeting as much as 12% in after-hours trading.

The social-media company said Monday that timeline views per user dropped 7%, even as total users climbed a healthy 23% to 284 million. And while revenue in the third quarter doubled to $361 million in the third quarter, Twitter’s projected sales of $440 million to 450 million for the next three months fell short of investor expectations, according to Reuters.

The company, which went public last November, said its third-quarter loss grew to $175.5 million from $64.6 million in the same quarter last year.

“I’m confident in our ability to build the largest daily audience in the world, over time, by strengthening the core, reducing barriers to consumption and building new apps and services,” CEO Dick Costolo said in a statement.

TIME Companies

Dunkin’ Donuts Now Has Its Own Version of the Cronut

A cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid, the brain child of French pastry chef Dominique Ansel, sit on a plate at Ansel's bakery shop in New York on June 14, 2013. Emmanuel Dunand—AFP/Getty Images

"Are we copying a specific bakery in New York? The answer is no"

Dunkin’ Donuts is rolling out its own version of the Cronut next week.

The Massachusetts-born chain’s new donut-croissant fusion pastry will be available for $2.49, the Associated Press reports. That’s about half the price of the “Cronut,” popularized by New York City’s Dominique Ansel Bakery last year.

But Dunkin’s president of global marketing and innovation told the AP that the “croissant donuts,” as they’ll be called, are not based on Ansel’s concoction.

“Are we copying a specific bakery in New York? The answer is no,” John Costello told the AP.

The pastry blend will be covered with the same glaze used on a Dunkin’ Donuts regular glazed donut. And unlike the Cronut, it won’t have a cream filling.


TIME Cancer

Hospitals Furious at Cancer-Drug Price Hikes

Some of the nation’s hospitals are seriously ticked off at Genentech, the San Francisco biotech firm, for implementing a stealth price hike for three critical cancer drugs. On September 16, Genentech told hospitals and oncology clinics that as of October 1, they can only buy Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan—three of the biggest weapons in the cancer arsenal—through specialty distributors instead of general line wholesalers they’ve been using for years.

The shift means hospitals will lose out on standard industry discounts—which Genentech and its distributors will then pocket. “Our blunt estimate: It will cost $300 million more in the U.S. overnight in what folks are paying for these lifesaving drugs,” says Pete Allen, group senior vice president, sourcing operations, for Novation, a health care services company that negotiates drug contracts. Novation estimates the hospitals it represents will take a $50 million hit—and that’s before the costs of additional inventory, handling and paperwork the hospitals might also incur.

Sales of Avastin, used to treat colorectal, ovarian and other cancers, hit $6.6 billion last year. Sales in what the company calls its HER2 breast cancer franchise—Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla— rose 14% to nearly $7 billion.

“As a result of the decision to change its distribution system, Genentech’s use of specialty distributors is resulting in unprecedented price hikes, the results of which will harm the patients we serve,” said Dr. Roy Guharoy, chief pharmacy officer at Ascension Healthcare, a Catholic, nonprofit health system with some 1,500 locations, in a statement.

Genentech—owned by Roche, which had $50 billion in sales last year—says the switch to specialty wholesalers will improve the efficiency and security of the supply chain. The company says its newer cancer drugs, such as Perjeta, Kadcyla and Gazyva, are already supplied this way, which allowed it to reduce the number of distribution centers from 80 to five. “We do believe this is the best distribution model for these medicines,” said Charlotte Arnold, the company’s associate director of corporate relations. “We understand that there maybe a business impact on hospitals.” The company wouldn’t explain the specifics of why the specialty model is better.

Hospitals aren’t buying the company’s rationale. “I haven’t talked to anyone who thought this was a safer way to distribute these drugs,” says Bill Woodward, senior director of contracting at Novation. “There is nothing about these drugs that would make them safer to be in the specialty channel.” Most of the major wholesalers, in fact, already have specialty distribution arms although one general firm, Morris & Dickson, had to create a specialty arm to remain a Genentech distributor. It’s a difference without a distinction, say the hospitals, except that Genentech earns more money.

The financial cost to the hospitals comes first through the loss of rebates from the big wholesalers. But more importantly, hospitals also lose to ability to negotiate what are called cost-minus discounts with their wholesalers that, depending on the cost of a drug, amounts to a 2%-to–5% price reduction. The cost of this “back-end” funding had been borne by Genentech; now the hospitals will have eat it.

Ascension says it is already seeing significant net price hikes. A 400 mg dose of Avastin jumped from $2,382.28 on October 12 to $2,511.36 on October 14, a nearly 8% increase. Similarly, a 500mg dose of Herceptin rose to $3,878.89 from $3,586.52. Even worse for the hospitals, they can’t pass this increase on to insurance companies—since the list price remained the same, as far as insurers are concerned there’s been no increase.

Ascension has flatly alleged that Genentech is reclassifying Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan as “specialty” drugs to enhance profits moreso than improve the supply chain. Specialty drugs usually fall under the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program, established for compounds like the testosterone drug AndroGel that may have unusual side effects; or for drugs that are unusually expensive. According to Ascension, in 1990 only 10 specialty drugs existed. By 2012 that number jumped to nearly 300 compounds. “The end result is large price hikes unaccounted for in our 2015 budgets, and it will mean that already scarce resources will need to be stretched,” says Guharoy.

The hospitals are already being forced to deal with rising prices for all kinds of drugs. According to Ascension, its drug costs have risen $36 million in the past year. With 2015 pharmacy budgets already set, Genentech’s new distribution model threatens to bust hospital budgets before the year has even started.

Genentech tried a similar switch in 2006, but outraged customers forced the company to rescind the program. This time Genentech seems like it’s digging in. “We understand there may be some adjustments,” said Arnold of Genentech’s testy customers, noting that the company was “working to educate them” about the benefits of the new system.

Judging from the bile level, that could take awhile.

MONEY Odd Spending

Why People Aren’t Buying Lottery Tickets

Lottery forms on a gas station counter in Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.
Patrick Semansky—AP

Lottery sales have gone flat in several states, but not necessarily as a result of gamblers waking up to the fact that the house always wins.

Are people who had been accustomed to dropping a few bucks here and there on state lottery games experiencing “jackpot fatigue”? It sure looks that way, according to Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, who at a recent meeting noted an astonishing 41% dropoff in Powerball sales in the state last month, compared with September 2013. Paraphrasing Martino, the Baltimore Sun reported that “players may be becoming numb to soaring prize numbers,” and so they’re not buying lottery tickets at the blazing pace set in the past.

Maryland is not the only state where lottery sales are falling, flat, or just not measuring up to the projections offered by local gaming commissions. Sales of core lottery games declined in Ohio during the first half of 2014, for instance, while lottery sales in Kentucky are failing to measure up to what was drawn up in the state budget last spring. Meanwhile, once-torrid lottery sales have plateaued in Missouri, with profits for the fiscal 2014 year that are $21 million lower than the year prior. One expert told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the falloff in lottery sales in Missouri (and elsewhere) comes partly as a result of players getting bored with the games:

“It follows a life cycle like any product,” said Thomas Garrett, a University of Mississippi economist who studies lotteries. “You get this increase in sales. It peaks. People get used to it, and then you get this slowdown.”

In light of this concept, it makes sense that money spent at newer, up-and-coming video lottery terminals in states such as Ohio is rising, while traditional lottery games like instant tickets and Pick 3 and Pick 4 are on the decline. To boost sales and attract a new generation of lottery players, states are spending more on advertising and rolling out games that are sold in new ways (lottery ticket sales at gas station pumps and ATMs) and that are sold with themes favored by locals (college football teams, “Duck Dynasty”).

In addition to simple fatigue and a lack of excitement for the same old games, lottery sales have also been hurt by the spread of casinos, according to some research. This past summer, the Washington Post noted that lottery sales in Maryland had increased for 16 years in a row before casinos came to the state. And the recent opening of another casino in Maryland seems to have played some role in the September slump of Powerball tickets. “Those two industries [lottery and casinos] tend to be substitutes for each other,” one economist hired by Maryland to conduct a study on lottery sales explained to the Post.

At the same time, gambling industry supporters point out that while lottery sales in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania initially declined or went flat after casinos opened in the states, the drop was only a blip—and that sales are strong once again. The debate about how casinos impact lottery sales is raging in Massachusetts, where a Repeal the Casino campaign argues, among other things, “If the lottery takes the minimum expected hit of 10 percent from the introduction of casinos and slots, state lottery transferred as state aid to towns and cities will be reduced by about $90 million.” Casino supporters, on the other hand, say that such projections are based on outdated and flawed data, and that any effect of casinos on lottery sales is temporary.

TIME Retail

Beyoncé Launching Athletic Brand With Topshop

London Celebrity Sightings -  October 17, 2014
Beyonce sighting at Harry's Bar in Mayfair on October 17, 2014 in London, England. (Keith Hewitt--GC Images) Keith Hewitt—GC Images

You may be able to buy it as soon as 2015

Attention, Beyhive: Beyoncé and Topshop are partnering to create an athletic sportswear brand that you can wear as soon as fall 2015.

Beyoncé and Topshop will start as 50-50 partners in a venture called Parkwood Topshop Athletic Ltd. “This not a collaboration. This is about building a brand and building a business — a separate, proper business, with separate overhead and a separate office,” Topshop owner Sir Philip Green told Women’s Wear Daily.

“I could not think of a better partner,” Beyonce said in a statement on Topshop’s website. “I have always loved Topshop for its fashion credentials and forward thinking. Working with its development team to create and produce a technical and fashion-led collection is exciting and I’m looking forward to participating in all aspects of this partnership.”

The line will have clothing, footwear, and accessories for dance and fitness that are still stylish enough to wear as regular clothes. Everything will be sold in Topshop stores and on Topshop.com. Beyoncé already has a fragrance line, a temporary tattoo line, and a hip-hop inspired clothing brand she developed with her mother, Tina Knowles. Topshop also recently collaborated with Kate Moss.

TIME Careers & Workplace

The 1 Spot in Your Office You Need to Avoid at All Costs

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Want to get things done? Avoid this spot if you can

Want to have a productive day? Stay away from the printer. A new survey finds that printer and copier stations are basically a black hole for productivity. Office technology company Brother International Corporation says workers waste an average of 13 hours a year dawdling at their company’s printer and copier stations.

“Movement toward centralized printers has unintentionally created a new employee gathering spot,” says Jeff Sandler, director of marketing for solutions and content at Brother. Workers waste time schlepping to and from printer stations, waiting for jobs to be completed and shooting the breeze with colleagues. It’s only a few extra minutes a day, but those minutes add up and make it harder to get back into a focused frame of mind.

While productivity experts say that it is important to take breaks during the day, unscheduled interruptions can derail your momentum. “Since printing devices are widely dispersed across offices, long trips to the device are a given. And social conversations have become the norm,” Sandler says.

Brother’s survey finds that more than 60% of workers say they chat with co-workers at print and copy stations, and many of those conversations aren’t about work. Those non-work conversations make people 98% more likely to stop by a colleague’s desk to talk about non-work topics.

Sandler suggests tackling the problem by adding printers closer to work spaces (he does, after all, work for a company that sells printers). Other increasingly common options are the use of electronic file-sharing and cloud-storage services that eliminate the need for so many hard copies.

If the printer is sapping your productivity, try working in an area of the office that naturally delivers better productivity. The physical space you’re sitting in can have a significant impact on well you work, says Bob Best, executive vice president of energy and sustainability services at commercial real estate company JLL.

Access to sun and natural light is “like magic,” Best says. Studies have shown it energizes people and even makes them less likely to take sick days. Beyond that, the most productive space in your office will depend on the task you’re trying to accomplish.

If you need to focus intensely or complete a project within a firm deadline, find a place that’s quiet with high walls and minimal outside distraction. Conversely, if you need to troubleshoot or generate ideas, an open cafe or lounge-type environment will give you the stimulation you need to get your creative juices flowing.

Read next: 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Harder

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