While it’s true that everyone works differently, the world’s most successful leaders often have one thing in common: Their days are marked by certain rituals.
After all, even Mark Zuckerberg needs a little bit of structure: That’s why his resolution for 2014 was to write handwritten thank-you notes every single day of the year. (He readily admits that it wasn’t easy.) The famed Facebook founder has developed quite the reputation when it comes to personal goal setting: In 2010, he vowed to learn Mandarin Chinese, and in 2011 he only ate meat that he slaughtered himself.
While some of these hacks err more on the side of weird–think Tony Hsieh’s penchant for calling his assistants his “Time Ninjas”–others are probably more familiar to you, like Branson’s affinity for tea and long, hot baths.
These are the top six life hacks from some of the biggest names in business:
1. Commit to getting shuteye.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is probably one of the best-connected executives in the world, so you might be surprised to learn that she also turns off her phone every night before bed. In a 2013 interview with USA Today, the acclaimed Lean In author explained that she needs to unplug completely in order to get a good night’s sleep.
Sandberg is probably onto something here: Studies show that using electronic devices before going to bed can have a detrimental impact on your sleep. Robert Rosenberg, a sleep medicine specialist at Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, recently told Yahoo News that the blue light given off by your phone screen prevents the production of melatonin in the body, which is the hormone that makes you feel drowsy.
2. Bake some humor into the daily grind.
Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of Zappos, may be seriously successful in the e-commerce industry, but he likes to keep things lighthearted around the office. He toldThe New York Times, for instance, that the top executives are referred to as “monkeys,” and they sit in what’s called “Monkey Row” at Zappos’s Las Vegas headquarters. He added that his favorite part of the workday is joking around with his “Time Ninjas”–or whom everyone else might mundanely call their executive assistants.
3. Switch it up.
Like Hsieh, Richard Branson is known for being a consummate optimist who’s also committed to having fun. To that end, the Virgin Group founder believes that the best routine is not to have one: Writing in his Live Mint column back in September of 2012, Branson advocated for making every single day unique. While he offers a few of his top tips for success–such as taking breaks throughout the day, drinking English tea, or enjoying a long, hot bath to unwind–he ultimately says that an entrepreneur’s most valuable trait is flexibility.
4. Channel your inner Jedi.
In perhaps one of the stranger displays of entrepreneurial zeal, fashion designer and investor Marc Ecko collects Star Wars memorabilia for good luck.
The habit has helped create an image of Ecko that he himself once described to The New York Times Magazine as “a pop-culture Willy Wonka, crossed with Richard Branson.”
Hey, whatever works.
5. Practice mindfulness.
Many have touted the practice of mindfulness meditation, but perhaps few so vehemently as Def Jam creator and business mogul Russell Simmons. Simmons, who meditates every Sunday morning with a transcendental meditation teacher whom he calls “the monk,” has also published a book about meditation called Success Through Stillness, in which he argues that meditating on a regular basis can help you reach your maximum potential.
6. Read voraciously.
Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that his resolution for 2015 would be to read a new book every other week–and not just books about business. The Facebook founder and top executive wants to learn more about different cultures and belief systems. His first selection was The End of Power by Moises Naim. You can follow Zuck’s book club on the Facebook page: A Year of Books.
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