Two women standing at a cork board, putting up post-its and smiling. They look like they have great productivity tips.
Image: © dglimages/

10 productivity tips from successful people

4 Dec 2018

Want to know what successful people do on a day-to-day basis to stay productive?

Throughout 2018, we’ve talked to some pretty amazing people at all different levels and stages of their careers.

We’ve heard from CEOs, business partners, data scientists, HR leads and even a former Navy SEAL. While hearing all about their inspiring careers, we also managed to collect some pretty interesting productivity advice along the way, so we rounded up these great tips below.

If you’d like to read more about any of them, just click on their name and their full interview will be revealed.

1. Tammy Hawkins, VP of security and decision solutions software engineering at Mastercard

“I once read an article about ‘eating your frogs in the morning’ (inspired by a famous quote from Mark Twain), and it is a tactic that really works for me. I arrive to work in the morning and dedicate between one and two hours each morning to my toughest task I need to accomplish that day. I find knocking the difficult tasks out in the morning frees my head space to concentrate deeper on the rest of my tasks for that day.”

2. Dean Forbes, CEO of CoreHR

“I leave all devices including my phone downstairs in my office, which is the furthest point from my bedroom in the house, a couple of hours before I go to bed, otherwise I don’t sleep.”

3. Jessica Ortega, web security research analyst at SiteLock

“Heavy metal! I know it sounds clichéd, but music is my number one productivity boost. Invest in the music streaming service of your choice and a really good pair of headphones (mine light up) to get you through those long lines of code review.”

4. Chuck McGraw, chief operating officer at TLDR Capital and former Navy SEAL

“My productivity doesn’t come from some secret sauce or tip. It is what we are all taught from a young age: work hard, be honest and deliver on what you commit to. If you can do that, then it’s OK to sleep in every now and then, miss a yoga class or skip the gym if you don’t feel like going seven days a week. Don’t live to work; instead, work to live. Enjoy life and those you choose to spend it with.”

5. Louise Leolin, co-founder of DinoByte Labs

“At DinoByte we start every day with a morning meeting. This helps us stay on track with what needs to be done in the day ahead, but we also try to cover problems we are encountering with solutions on how to improve. At the end of the meeting we have a quick brainstorm to come up with a small game pitch and this really helps to get our creativity flowing and motivates us to start the work day. I think having a very clear starting ritual is so important to really put yourself in the right mindset for work.

“In addition, we use Kanban boards to stay organised in our projects and have a very clear vision of which tasks need to be done and when. I personally also love using Mel Robbin’s five-second rule as well, especially if I am having a day were I feel a bit unfocused or if I’m likely to procrastinate.”

6. Katie Burke, chief people officer at HubSpot

“I’m no expert on this topic, not even close, but I do exercise every morning. Whether it’s going for a run or a yoga class, it gives me time and space to think and relax, and it sets the tone for the remainder of my day. The other tradition I’ve adopted from a group called The Energy Project is reserving time each week in my diary to express appreciation. Gratitude is a transformative emotion that helps you lead more effectively, so I’ve built in thanking others – be it employees, candidates, partners, customers, or my family and friends – as part of my calendar.”

7. Ben Chamberlain, chief data scientist at ASOS

“I love Trello, which I use as a to-do list. I have five columns that I work from. These are ‘objectives’, ‘now’, ‘next’, ‘later’ and ‘done’. I don’t do anything that can’t be tied to one of my objectives and, at the end of every day, I spend a little time moving three or four tasks into ‘now’ to be completed tomorrow.”

8. Gemma Lloyd, co-founder of Work180

“A good night’s sleep [and] writing my to-do list the night before to ensure I’m proactive the next day instead of being reactive to the flood of messages received.”

9. Jonathan Leahy Maharaj, creative director for Fuzion Communications

“Coffee, coffee and more coffee. I drink a lot of coffee during my day, but it’s more about the act of getting up and away from my desk, even just for a few minutes, which helps me focus. I also try to keep my unread messages to an absolute minimum in my inbox, which is always a balancing act so that you’re not distracting yourself by constantly monitoring them. I am also a huge fan of lists to keep on top of things. I use the Notes and Evernote apps and, of course, a good old pen and paper. And music – you have to have music on.”

10. Ire Aderinokun, front-end developer and UI designer

“I know I’m the most alert in the mornings, so I try and do all the tasks that either require a lot of my attention, or I find less interesting, during this time.”

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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