How Billionaires Like Steve Jobs Stay Productive

How Billionaires Like Steve Jobs Stay Productive


Are you looking for ways to manage your time more effectively? How about tricks to make you a more productive individual? Take a couple of cues from some of the most productive people in the world; billionaires like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet.

Delegate Responsibilities

Steve Jobs created a system at Apple that ensured every team member was not only going to deliver their best, but that they would also be held accountable for completing those tasks. Jobs told Fortune;

"When you hire really good people you have to give them a piece of the business and let them run with it. That doesn't mean I don't get to kibitz a lot. But the reason you're hiring them is because you're going to give them the reins. I want [them] making as good or better decisions than I would. So the way to do that is to have them know everything, not just in their part of the business, but in every part of the business.”

Apple employees eventually gave this accountability mindset a name; the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. One former employee said, “Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list.” The employee added, “Next to each action item will be the DRI.” A common phrase heard around Apple when someone is trying to learn the right contact on a project: “Who’s the DRI on that?”

While Jobs was extremely hands-on, he realized the importance of delegation. Instead of multitasking, Jobs created a culture where every team member knew the value of delegation and accepted the responsibility so that he could focus on the work that really mattered.

Scrap the To-Do-Lists

The richest man in the world shared with Fortune how he managed his daily work life while still at Microsoft, as well running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and being a thought leader. For Gates, he used a paperless system that didn’t rely on to-do-lists. Instead, Gates used;

  • Email as his main communication medium.
  • Email filtering so that he could drop down the amount of incoming emails.
  • Disciplined himself to ignore email notifications.
  • Email, files, and online calendar instead of lengthy to-do lists.
  • Desktop search as opposed to navigating through folders.
  • A whiteboard to brainstorm.

If he didn’t have time to respond to any emails, he would do-so after his children went to bed.

Keep Things Simple

Ever wonder why Mark Zuckerberg seemingly wore the same clothes, like his signature hoodie and grey t-shirt? That’s because it took the decision process out of his mornings. As opposed to searching for a wardrobe every morning, Zuckerberg knew exactly what he was going to wear so that he could focus on more important matters, such as maintaining structure to his “chaotic professional world.”

Work Around an Organized Schedule

It’s been widely reported that Elon Musk is a workaholic. At one point it was said that spent around 100 hours per week working at his companies SpaceX and Tesla. How could Musk possibly stay so productive?

One of his techniques was to have an organized schedule. How organized was this schedule? Apparently, Musk keeps a daily planner that is broken-down into five-minute slots. The week for Musk then, is typically like spending “Monday in L.A with SpaceX, then Tuesday and Wednesday with Tesla up in the Bay Area, and back to L.A by Thursday. Friday is split between SpaceX and the Tesla design studio which is directly adjacent to the SpaceX HQ.” Most the time he has the kids picked up by later on Friday and is out camping with them, then returns home Sunday and is back to SpaceX on Monday.

Say ‘No’

When Warren Buffett first met Bill Gates in 1991, Buffett shared with Gates one of his greatest productivity hacks; keep your calendar as empty as possible.

The reason? "You've gotta keep control of your time," Buffett said, "and you can't unless you say no. You can't let people set your agenda in life."

Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the man who coined the phrase the ‘Internet of Things,’ agrees with Buffett on the importance of saying ‘no.’

"Saying 'no' has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, is the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know."

Work Out

How does Richard Branson stay so productive? “I work out,” he simply responds.

According to Tim Ferriss, who interviewed Branson for his book The 4-Hour Body, Branson claimed that exercise gives him at least four additional hours of productivity.

Have Theme Days

Jack Dorsey, the Square CEO and Twitter chairman, is able to balance working at both companies by having ‘theme’ days. This means that he devotes certain days of the work to different types of work. For example, on Mondays Dorsey would focus on management, Tuesdays for product development, Wednesdays for marketing, and so-on.

Spend At Least One Day a Week On Mobile

Google’s Larry Page has encouraged employees to follow his lead and sped at least one day per week working primarily on their smartphones.

According to a profile on Fortune, “as part of his push to focus the company on mobile, Page forces himself to do without a computer during much of his day. He makes a point of attending meetings carrying only his phone, and he has encouraged engineers and product managers to try to spend at least one day every week just on their mobile devices.”

Take the First Flight Out

Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams, tells Business Insider that when he goes on business trips, he takes the first flight out of town. "There is less traffic, the airport is less crowded, flights are generally more reliable and it usually means I get to spend the night before at home with my family and spend more time in my destination city," Koch said.

Koch also shared one more travel trip, he pretends that he’s asleep because that can often lead to actual sleep.

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