A new Australian podcast might have just found the universal secret to success.
Amantha Imber, CEO of innovation consultancy Inventium, recently launched a new podcast which puts the working days of some of the world's leading entrepreneurs, musicians and business people under the microscope.
As a result, the How I Work podcast has uncovered the hacks used by people at the very top of their game to get more stuff done and pack more into their busy schedules — even though they have just as many hours in their days as we mere mortals do.
Over the course of the series, Imber has spoken with the likes of social media entrepreneur Matt Mullenweg, best-selling author Adam Grant, The Dresden Dolls musician Amanda Palmer and lecturer and world-renowned trust expert Rachel Botsman, and has found a few surprising traits and habits they have in common.
And she told news.com.au anyone could incorporate their tricks into their own lives.
"I think they are all very self-aware and very considerate in how they structure their day — no one is like, 'I don't know what to do to be more productive' — they all give thought to it," she said.
"For example, one of my favourites is Adam Grant, who begins every week with a strategy where he lists three things he wants to achieve, and three ways he wants to help people, and by doing that at the beginning of every week he keeps on track and works on the things that matter."
She said Grant also used his inbox in a strategic way.
"Most people generally respond to the most recent email first, but Adam will actually sort them based on where he can add the most value, and prioritise that," she said.
"They think about efficiency differently. For example, when Matt Mullenweg is reading a book he uses an autosync function between Audible and Kindle so he can swap from reading to listening to the book as he walks to a meeting — there's lots of those kinds of hacks."
In fact, Imber said everyone she'd interviewed so far had one surprising, almost daily habit in common.
"Everyone really reads a lot — I'd say they've all been really voracious readers," she said.
"The average person reads one or two books a year but these people are reading 30 to 50 books a year on average, which is huge and shows they're prioritising the acquisition of knowledge and learning.
"Most people say they're too busy to read but no one is busier than these people so it's just an excuse."
She said they were also all unexpectedly humble.
"A couple of the people I've interviewed so far have made remarks like, 'Sometimes I don't know how I get anything done,' which shows their humility — they don't have the attitude of, 'I've got this nailed and I'm super productive'," Imber said.
"But they happen to have great strategies and habits in mind — and when they say, 'I don't know what I'm doing' it's humbling and reassuring.
"Their techniques are so achievable for the average person and one of the joys of doing the podcast has been getting these tips that are great, easy and actionable stuff for the average listener.
"It encourages people who are looking to better themselves and the way they work."
Another factor linking Imber's subjects is their attitude to technology, with one guest refusing to check emails in the midst of a creative project, as she believes emails can be a creativity killer.
Botsman, for example, refuses to use her phone as an alarm and makes sure she never sleeps with it next to her in an effort to have a more "mindful relationship" with the device, which otherwise impacts her productivity.
And Mullenweg makes sure his phone's homescreen only displays "healthy" apps — those that serve a specific purpose, such as Uber or Maps — to remove the temptation of mindlessly scrolling through social media all day.
Imber said another tip she'd learned from the series was to finish your work for the day halfway through a sentence.
This technique, which is embraced by Grant and Botsman, "makes starting work a whole lot easier" the following day, as it allows you to quickly get back into the previous day's rhythm.