Successful People Reveal Their Secrets to Staying Productive

Twelve things they always have on hand.
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“How do they get it all done?” is always in the back of our minds when we get to chatting with the tastemakers we admire most. Is it a 5 a.m. wake-up call? A meticulous to-do list? As we’ve learned from posing these very questions to founders, authors, activists, and design disrupters across the industry, achieving your goals isn’t just a matter of willpower. Even naturally organized people need a boost to hit those peak productivity levels. 

From planners that never fail to the best task-oriented phone apps, here’s how eight super-successful people stay on top of their workweeks. 

Write Everything Down

I take better notes when I have a pen and paper I’m excited to use. For me, that’s a fine-point Pilot G-Tec-C4 with my Poketo notebook. —Natalie Ebel, cofounder of Backdrop

I love using paper for planning and scheduling because I’ve found that as soon as I go on my phone, I’m likely to get distracted and head over to Instagram for 20 minutes, thus losing any benefit I might have gained. —Laura Vanderkam, time management expert and author of Off the Clock and I Know How She Does It

I love taking our new Clipfolios around the office for meetings. They’re an easy place to take notes and keep loose papers organized. —Anna Bond, cofounder and creative director, Rifle Paper Co

Get That Jumble of Cords Under Control

Designing homes all over the country means I spend quite a bit of time traveling. There are so many cords and random things that could disappear in the bottom of my tote if I don’t keep them organized in zip pouches. —Shea McGee, designer, blogger, and shop owner behind Studio McGee

Prioritize Your Tasks

Working in finance means there’s very little room for fluidity or error. It requires extreme organization and diligence in order to hit our numbers and fiscal deadlines. I use this weekly organizer that The Wing created in collaboration with Poketo. There’s only room to list an item or two per day, which is a great way to ensure I am thinking about what my most important deadlines are for the day and the week ahead. —Diedra Nelson, CFO, The Wing

Lets Apps Do Some of the Work for You

Any.Do might be the best $2 I spend each month. The mental load of remembering random things can be overwhelming, so having a great place to store them and clear them from my mind until the time comes is really helpful. —Caleb Ebel, cofounder of Backdrop

I use this simple and straightforward app to make lists for everything in my life. I love that you can share the lists with other people plus the gratification of the ding when you check something off! —Shea McGee, designer, blogger, and shop owner behind Studio McGee

Take the Time to Recharge (Your Phone)

My phone is basically my office. On a daily basis, I use it to keep track of multiple schedules, post content on Instagram—the list goes on. To make sure I never reach low-battery level or need to search for outlets, I charge a few portable battery packs and carry them with me. —Clea Shearer, cofounder of The Home Edit

This mini wireless charging device is perfect for the nightstand as a chic catchall station. When I get home from work, I can just put all my tech products on it, come back an hour or two later, and everything is charged. Saves me time and reduces the clutter of wires in my home. —Jennifer Fleiss, cofounder of Rent the Runway and CEO of Jetblack

Get Cozy

I’m a creature of comfort, which means that if I’m not comfortable, it’s harder for me to stay productive. Because of this, I always make sure to keep an oversize scarf with me that also doubles as a blanket, so I’m prepared for literally anything. —Joanna Teplin, cofounder of The Home Edit

Keep Calm

Lord Jones CBD capsules really help with my anxiety. I find that it helps calm me when I am feeling overwhelmed and helps with inflammation, too. —Natalie Ebel, cofounder of Backdrop

Caffeinate, Of Course

This is my go-to morning coffee, as it promotes productivity, focus, and creativity. It’s the perfect kick-start to my day and keeps me energized during the workday.” —Jennifer Fleiss, cofounder of Rent the Runway and CEO of Jetblack

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Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.