10 Leaders Reveal The Surprising Ways They Stay Productive

Larry Page

Photo: AP

Ever wonder what the secret is behind wildly successful entrepreneurs and CEOs who helm huge corporations? Inc.com gathered the strategies of powerful and work-obsessed leaders like Larry Page, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington.

Check out the strategies of these successful leaders here >
This post originally appeared at Inc.

Arianna Huffington: Drop Everything and Go to Sleep

Larry Page: Fire Your Assistant

Stephen King: Above All Else, Be Consistent

In his 2000 autobiography, On Writing the legendary author offers straightforward advice to aspiring scribes: Write every day. Ideally, strive for 1,000 words, but however many you can manage will suffice so long as you do it each day.

King himself writes at least 10 pages every day--weekends, and holidays included. While King is not your typical entrepreneur, he is a paragon of productivity. He has published 49 novels that have sold over 350 million copies.

Richard Branson: Work Out!

As head and tireless spokesman of the Virgin Group and its 200 or so affiliated companies, this ebullient entrepreneur is an expert on multitasking. His number one tip for maximizing productivity: exercise.

In Tim Ferriss' 2010 book The 4-Hour Body, Ferriss recounts a visit to Branson's Necker Island, where he quizzed the mogul on how to become more productive: 'Branson leaned back and thought for a second…then he broke the silence. 'Work out.' He was serious and elaborated: working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time each day.'

Jana Eggers: Train for an Ironman (or Pick Up a Challenging Hobby)

While Eggers, a co-founder of SureCruise.com and former executive at SpreadShirt and Intuit, acknowledges that gruelling triathlons aren't for everyone, she advocates any activity that kicks your butt.

'Forcers,' as she calls them, require smart time management. 'I recommend anything that requires focus and discipline…they are good skills to reinforce.'

A fulfilling hobby, says Eggers, can also be a healthy distraction from the day-to-day grind. And it need not be physically gruelling. 'It can be cooking, gardening, singing…just something that you can focus on and master. The important thing is…pick something big and be dedicated to it.'

Ram Shriram: Keep a Diary

The angel investor and founding Google board member says the best way to improve personal performance is to track it in a daily diary.

In a 2005 comment to Business 2.0, he explained that the point is not to beat yourself up for mistakes--a counter-productive exercise if there ever was one--but to create a kind of manual for what has worked and what hasn't in your business. 'Documenting it ensures we'll always remember it.'

Gary E. McCullough: Give People Exactly Half the Time They Ask for

Stephen Gillett: Play World of Warcraft

Scientists, game theorists, and other researchers say multiplayer virtual games can teach players leadership and problem-solving skills and encourage innovation. For Gillett, EVP of Digital Ventures at Starbucks and a top guild master--one of the highest ranks attainable in the Warcraft hierarchy--the game has been a lesson in effective decision-making.

As he told Wired in a 2006 interview, 'I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done. Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task.'

Carol Smith: Trade Time on Monday for Sunday

Penn Jillette: Forget Contracts

According to the iconoclastic, tiger-taming showman, contracts should be made with people, not paper. To him, a magician and entertainer, all the fine print and legalese that a meticulous contract entails is a waste of time--leading to endless negotiations and piles of paperwork as lawyers debate minutiae.

As he told Business 2.0 in 2008: 'The more experience I got in show business, the less I read contracts. Now I don't bother. If I can't make the deal in a phone call, and have them understand it, then it's not a worthwhile deal. You're making a deal with the people, not with the contract.'

Now read on for the secrets on how to run a successful start-up:

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