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Productivity Myth Buster: Copying Successful People

“Imitation is not inspiration.” - Albert Pinkham Ryder

Welcome back to the second myth we’re going to bust: copying the habits of “highly successful people.”

Some of us get a sudden urge to be more productive every once in a while. We turn to YouTube and the Internet to learn more about how to be productive, whether that’s by watching productivity life hacks, reading about methods to be a more productive individual, or learning about how successful people like Steve Jobs and Oprah live their lives.

While learning about how successful people stay productive is not inherently harmful, trying to imitate their lifestyle can actually be counterproductive for us.

This is because everyone has a different way of going about their lives. Everyone has different means of getting motivation or inspiration to be productive.

A simple example: an article by CNBC says that the number one habit of highly successful people is that they get up early. According to the article, “nearly 50 percent of the self-made millionaires in [a research study] got out of bed at least three hours before their workday actually started.” An example of this could be Tim Cook, who wakes up at 3:45 am!

While this may be true, it’s important to note that every person is different. In this example, if a teenager were to try and imitate Tim Cook’s sleep schedule, they might find that they’re not only less productive in the mornings, but also more sleep deprived than usual. Fun fact, this is partly due to the fact that teenagers are what we call “owls” (as opposed to “larks”); this essentially means they reach their peak productivity later in the day.

This is just one example of many other unique habits of successful people that we shouldn’t feel pressured to copy. Now, I’m not saying it would not be beneficial to be inspired by some of these habits (let’s be honest: sleeping past noon probably isn’t the best weekend habit), but it’s important to introspect and self-evaluate what helps us feel more productive.

- Dhisha Kukalakuntla,

Founder & President

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