5 Things You Can Learn From the Daily Routines of Celebrities Like Warren Buffett and Stephen King

September 27, 2017

A cup of coffee in the morning, a crossword to get the gears turning, a good book to relax at the end of the night—we all have our daily routines, and recruiters are no exception. Personally, I like to hang up my clothes for the next day on my bedroom door. It helps me feel prepared for the work day ahead, and maybe even slightly excited to wake up.

But if you’re going to pick up anyone’s habits, why not look to our greatest minds and biggest influencers, from Warren Buffett to Stephen King. While these habits aren’t specific to recruiters, they are simple ways to improve your day and be a little more productive.

Here are 5 daily habits of some of the most successful people that can help you make the most of your day.

1. Prioritize relentlessly, like Warren Buffett

There’s a story about Warren Buffett talking to his pilot about his goals. In the story, Buffett asks the pilot to write down his top 25 goals and then circle the 5 most important. The pilot said that while the 5 he circled were most important, he still wanted to focus on the remaining 20.

Buffett said this was wrong. The 20 left behind became a part of the “avoid at all costs” list.

The lesson here lies in prioritizing relentlessly so that you can finish your most crucial tasks. The other 20 items shouldn’t even be considered until the first 5 are completed. This is a great way to think about our daily tasks. As recruiters, you have a lot to do every day--but unless you focus on just a few of those things, there’s a strong chance nothing gets done. Learning how to isolate those tasks is a great way to be both productive and effective.

2. Keep decision-making simple, like Mark Zuckerberg

Look at a photo of Mark Zuckerberg. Any photo. Chances are, he’s wearing a gray t-shirt and jeans. There’s a far more crucial lesson to this fashion choice than meets the eye.

As CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, Zuckerberg has a massive list of decisions to make. By putting on that never-changing outfit, Zuckerberg is eliminating one decision from his day.

I’m not saying you have to wear a Silicon Valley uniform to be successful. But if you simplify your decision making—like always cooking chicken on Sunday nights, or listening to the same playlist on your commute—you have more time to think about the bigger, more important issues, like how to reach out to more candidates or how to improve your storytelling skills.

3. Write down your to-do lists, like Sheryl Sandberg

These days, most of what you write is probably digital. But reconsider the symbolic value of pen and paper.

Sheryl Sandberg carries a spiral-bound notebook everywhere, recording discussion points, action items, and other things she needs to remember. When her team finishes one item, she checks it off and moves to the next. Once a page is entirely checked off, she rips it out of her book and moves on.

Imagine how satisfying it is to discard a page of the things you’ve completed—and literally put it in your past so you can move forward cleanly.

4. Break down big projects into small tasks you tackle every day, like Stephen King

With over 50 books under his belt—not to mention hit blockbusters—Stephen King is one of the most accomplished authors of our time.

But writers (and recruiters) can sometimes get stuck when facing big projects. To avoid this, King tackles projects head on, vowing to try to write at least 10 pages a day. At that rate, he’d aim to have the first draft of a book written within three months.

Now, recruiting is pretty different than writing, but the same principles can apply to tackling long-term projects. Setting daily concrete goals, like calling 5 people per day, can help you stay on top of your workloads.

And let’s be honest, nothing feels better than being able to check something off your to-do list. Make that a daily occurrence by breaking things down into small, easy tasks.  

5. Break down your entire schedule, like Elon Musk and Bill Gates

Break larger projects into smaller tasks is one thing. Billionaire powerhouses, Elon Musk and Bill Gates, break their days down by time, scheduling meetings and tasks down to the minute.

In doing so, they hold themselves accountable to every minute. Understanding how long you should take to complete tasks forces you to get things done in the allotted time, whether it’s lunch for 35 minutes or a phone call for exactly 5.

When you head up multiple companies like Musk and Gates do, time management is key. But even if you don’t, it’s helpful to be aware of how you spend your time, and plan your days as if every second were precious (which it is). Allotting time for every task ensures you have bandwidth to do what’s needed.

It’s important to figure out the habits that best fit your own working style. Be sure to check out what a day in the life of a full-cycle recruiter looks like.

It doesn’t have to be all about work, either. Make your own routine as fun and quirky as you like. You can always take license in the fact that the Queen of England has a glass of bubbly before bed.

*Image from Fortune Live Media

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