We all have 24 hours in a day…so how is it that some people seem to get so much more done with the time they’re allotted? When it comes to accomplishing monumental goals and making strides in your career, it all comes down to your mindset. The best Executives have mastered their mindset, allowing them to be more productive both in their personal and professional lives.

The Productive Brain

The neuroscience and mindset of the most productive senior leaders are fascinating areas of study that intertwine cognitive science with leadership principles. At the core of their productivity is the brain’s executive function, which is responsible for high-level cognitive processes such as problem-solving, planning, and decision-making. This function is primarily attributed to the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that is crucial for managing attention, inhibiting impulsive responses, and handling multiple tasks efficiently.

Growth Mindset

Productive senior leaders often exhibit a growth mindset, a concept developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. This mindset is characterized by the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Leaders with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. This approach fosters a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.


Neuroplasticity plays a significant role in this context. It refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Productive leaders leverage neuroplasticity by engaging in continuous learning and skill development, which in turn can lead to improved cognitive abilities and more efficient brain function.

Managing Emotions

Moreover, the most productive leaders are adept at managing their emotions through a process known as emotional regulation, which involves the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. They tend to have high emotional intelligence, which enables them to understand and manage their own emotions as well as empathize with others. This emotional acuity helps in creating a positive work environment and in making well-informed, rational decisions.

Purpose and Clarity of Vision

Lastly, the mindset of productive leaders often includes a strong sense of purpose and clarity of vision. This sense of purpose can be neurologically linked to increased intrinsic motivation, which is governed by the brain’s reward system. When leaders work in alignment with their values and goals, they experience a sense of fulfilment and intrinsic reward, which can lead to increased productivity and satisfaction.

In summary, the most productive senior leaders have a complex interplay of cognitive functions, emotional intelligence, and a growth-oriented mindset that allows them to navigate the challenges of leadership effectively. They capitalize on the brain’s ability to adapt and grow, maintain a clear vision and purpose, and foster an environment of continuous learning and emotional intelligence.

What The Most Productive Executives Do

So what do they do? Today we’re revealing 5 things the most productive Executives do differently to get ahead and maximise their hours.

1. They Don’t Have To-Do Lists

It’s been said that 41% of items on to-do lists are never completed. Some people go so far as to call to-do lists the graveyard for non-urgent tasks. Productive Executives know there’s no benefit to carrying around an ever-growing list of things to do.

Instead, they schedule everything onto a calendar. Then they live and work off of that calendar, which ultimately helps them to stay better organised. Some even schedule their days into 15-minute blocks to make the most of each task. To take it a step further, you might even consider assigning themes to your days as many Executives do, i.e. Mondays for meetings, Wednesdays for networking, and Fridays for finances. Grouping similar tasks in this manner helps Executives maintain a unilateral focus that makes them more productive.

2. They Know Their Priorities

Successful Executives tend to also have something called an MIT: Most Important Task. Every day, they work on this task without interruption because it’s their number one priority in achieving their goals. This is what allows them to make impressive progress every day and be more productive.

On that same note, they also make sure to get the most challenging task or the task they’re least looking forward to out of the way first. It’s what’s come to be called ‘eating the frog.’ This gives them a sense of accomplishment at the start of each new day but also clears up the rest of their hours to focus on the projects that most excite them.

3. They Manage Their Time Well

It’s no surprise that productive Executives are some of the best time managers out there. Many have mastered one tool, in particular, that is the foundation for all their time management and organisation: The Pareto Principle.

According to this principle, 80% of outcomes come from only 20% of activities. In other words, there are certain things you can do to reach your goals that will reap bigger rewards than focusing on smaller, more insignificant tasks.

Productive Executives know the activities that will drive the biggest results when it comes to their goals. They focus on those activities and delegate the rest.

4. They Have a Morning Ritual

The best and most productive Executives understand that the morning is the most important part of the day. Why? Because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why they create a morning routine that helps them to get in the right frame of mind mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Hal Elrod, the author of The Miracle Morning, recommends ‘becoming’ more so that you can do less…to achieve more! Becoming more is simple. It’s all about investing in yourself and nurturing yourself. This may mean quiet time to read first thing in the morning, exercising, enjoying a healthy breakfast, or whatever else makes you feel at peace.

5. They Take Care of Themselves

This goes along with the habit above, except that it extends beyond just a daily morning routine. Successful Executives know that if they want to be at their very best, they need to take care of their minds and bodies. They think of their bodies like cars, and in the same way that we refill a car’s fuel tank when it’s running on empty, they restore themselves as well when they know it’s needed.

In short: don’t skip meals, don’t miss sleep, and don’t overwork yourself just to get more done. When you take care of yourself, you end up giving yourself more energy—which allows you to be fully present in the workplace and more able to complete goal after goal toward reaching your dream.

Remember every morning you wake up, a new day brimming with possibilities and opportunities awaits you. You have the same number of hours to work as does anyone else.  Start implementing the strategies above, and you’ll not only master your mindset but also fast-track your success like never before by being more productive.

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Ros Cardinal

Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and leadership coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, emotional intelligence, organisational behaviour, employee engagement, strategic direction and management.
Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) and a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type (AusAPT). She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Deakin University, an Australian Human Resources Institute Professional Diploma in Human Resources and has completed the Australian Graduate School of Management Executive Program, Strategic Human Resource Management.