3 secrets to professional success

Eight hours of sleep, turning off your computer and exercise are all it takes to be a more productive, efficient and all-around successful person, this author says.

The best Christmas gift I could receive is hearing I no longer have to turn off my phone or iPad during takeoff and landing on a plane.

Merry Christmas to me!

While my flight was preparing for takeoff the other day, I scrolled through my Facebook news feed and came across an interesting article on Samantha Collier’s page called “Nine Things Extremely Successful People Do After Work.” I’ll bite,” I thought.

I was pleasantly surprised. Of the nine things, I do seven regularly. Does this mean I’m extremely successful?

Here are the nine things:

  • Unplug.
  • Go to happy hour.
  • Have sex.
  • Plan your weekend.
  • Play an instrument.
  • Go outside and play.
  • Play a crazy sport.
  • Focus on family and friends.
  • Get eight hours of sleep.

Likewise, an article in Inc. revealed the “Eight Things Really Successful People Do“:

  • Make materialism irrelevant.
  • Enhance knowledge.
  • Manage relationship expectations.
  • Practice emotional self-awareness.
  • Commit to a physical ideal.
  • Gain clarity about spirituality.
  • Adhere to a code of ethics.
  • Focus on time efficiency.

Yet another article, “Early Riser? What You Should Do When You Wake Up,” describes what entrepreneurs who get up early do with their time. (I’m writing this at 4:09 a.m.)

The point is there is no secret to success. It’s different for everyone, and it constantly evolves.

Secrets to your success

But there are three things that are imperative to anyone’s success: Eight hours of sleep, a commitment to a physical ideal and unplugging.

1. Eight hours of sleep: I don’t get eight hours of sleep every night, but I do average it throughout the week. (I know this because my UP band tells me so.) I’m a better leader, and much more productive and energetic when I get enough sleep.

2. A commitment to a physical ideal: I have always said exercise is like brushing your teeth-it’s something you have to do every day.

I used to have insomnia pretty badly. I’ve had nightmares since I was a kid, and they used to wake me up and scare me so badly that I refused to go back to sleep. Then I started riding my bike a gazillion miles every day, and my body decided it was too tired to let me dream.

I always have nightmares on my rest days (which is why I only take one each week), and I don’t sleep as well. Without the daily exercise, eight hours of sleep is not doable.

3. Unplugging: This is counterintuitive, particularly in our society, but my New Year’s resolution this year was to stop working weekends. Even if I have a ton of work to do, I let it sit. I shut down my computer on Friday night and don’t reopen it until Monday morning.

I am so much more productive during the week now. I can no longer tell myself, “Oh you can do that this weekend”—the work has to get done during the week. I don’t totally unplug—I still check emails and social media on my phone or iPad—but the real work waits for two days.

These are the three things I encourage among my team, and I challenge you to think about them, too.

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.

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