But optimizing how we spend time is more difficult, psychologists say. Spending the odd hour scrolling through social media doesn't seem like such a bad thing until we realize what that time could have been used to accomplish.
Business titans like Bill Gates, Tony Robbins and Warren Buffett know that over time, daily habits can amount to big achievements. That's why they make a point of adhering to a few specific ones.
Here are three things to do every day to become more successful:
1. Take time to process
Every morning, Tony Robbins starts his day with 10 minutes of meditation that involves a specific breathing technique, prayer and a pep talk.
Meditation is also shown to boost activity in areas of the brain related to paying attention, indicating it could help you focus better throughout the day.
If you're interested in starting a meditation practice, entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss has some great advice.
"Start small, rig the game so you can win it, get in five sessions before you get too ambitious with length," Ferriss says on his podcast. "You have to win those early sessions so you establish it as a habit, so you don't have the cognitive fatigue of that practice."
Begin with a two-minute routine a Harvard-trained psychologist recommends to help you relax .
2. Go on a daily walk or to the gym
Spending even just a few minutes every day exercising will clear your head and make you feel more motivated, studies show . That's one of the reasons many successful business leaders make sure to work out.
Billionaire Richard Branson says his morning routine of waking up at 5 a.m. to play tennis or bike has doubled his productivity.
"I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit," Branson tells FourYourBodyPress. "It keeps the brain functioning well."
If you don't have time to go to the gym, take five minutes to go on a walk. Stanford researchers found that the very act of walking boosted a person's creativity by an average of 60 percent.
3. Pick up a book
Both Gates and Buffett make a point to read every day, a habit that research shows reduces stress and boosts intelligence.
"Reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic," Gates writes on his blog. "I've been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading."
Every evening before bed, he reads for one hour. By making time every day, he reads a whopping 50 books each year.
Buffett too credits much of his prowess to reading. He says he starts every morning by poring over several newspapers and estimates he spends as much as 80 percent of his day reading.
When asked once about the key to success, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO pointed to a stack of books and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."
As Ferriss writes in his popular book "Tools of Titans," habits are more important than we think.
"To enjoy life, you don't need fancy nonsense," Ferris writes, "but you do need to control your time."
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