It can be tremendously healthy to look at the habits of the most successful people in the world when it comes down to modeling our own daily habits. A through-line starts to emerge: What are some of the commonalities that top-performers all share? In what tangible ways can those traits apply to how we live?
The answer might surprise you: invest in yourself by building intellectual capital. How? Simplicity and mindfulness seem to be a common thread, where some of the busiest, wealthiest people in the world take the time to press pause on urgent matters and invest in activities that have a long-term (rather than immediate) payoff. The notion is called compound time: These small, daily investments to grow oneself and encourage a healthy mental state over an extended period ends up yielding a greater return than focusing on completing a seemingly important business matter at the moment.
Here's a famous example of compound time: Warren Buffet, an iconic entrepreneur, has (according to his own estimate) spent 80% of his time just reading and thinking. Despite manning the operations of companies with hundreds of thousands of employees, he's a huge proponent of the ability to think critically — especially in a continually evolving, mostly digital economy. Another example is Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, who schedules two hours of uninterrupted thinking every day. Bill Gates famously takes a full week off, twice a year, to reflect deeply without interruption.
The big takeaway: if you're overwhelmed with managing your immediate work deadlines, interpersonal relationships, meetings, and just mundane stuff, the key is to carve out time to build your intellectual capital with a few activities to increase your compound time.
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