The Daily Habits of Successful Women

What high-achieving women do to be in their best form.

The dream job is hardly a sweet dream. This much is apparent when successful women, already top-of-mind names in their fields, give advice. Every day is a process of getting to a goal, which can be as simple as keeping calm during a busy day. Their daily habits lead to good work for the day, and good work for the day accumulates to the level of achievement. How do they do it?

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

If you imagine Sheryl Sandberg always taking down notes on an iPad, then you are mistaken. According to Fortune, she writes dutifully on a traditional spiral notebook. Her talk points for meetings are also recorded there. Once all agenda are done, she removes the page and adjourns the meeting.

The takeaway: It helps to have an analog ritual in this digital age. Say, instead of researching online, consult a physical book by an authority on the topic. Writing things down also helps in retention.

Donna Karan, fashion designer and founder of Urban Zen

Designers will be the first to tell you about the unglamorous side of fashion. The frantic pace of Fashion Week and the race to the new collection are like running in heels. But Donna Karan has found a way to keep her sanity. In an interview, she reveals that her yoga and breathing exercises inspired the well-being component of her philanthropic project Urban Zen.

The takeaway: Meditation clears the head and welcomes new ideas. During a frantic day, find the time and place to inhale-exhale with eyes closed.

Emma Watson, actress and United Nations spokesperson

Successful women read. Take it from Emma Watson, whose favorite books include Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou, Just Kids by Patti Smith (also included in this list), and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. She doesn't just read; she recommends them to the point of leaving behind books for people to discover. Watson was recently spotted "planting" books all around the New York subway in support of the group Books on the Underground.

The takeaway: Return to the experience of holding and enjoying a physical book. Consider it your daily intellectual nourishment, something as important as having a healthy diet or exercising.

Patti Smith, musician and author of National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids

Just Kids is about Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as young artists-in-the-making. She writes that they were both prone to roam New York. Years after, in an interview with Elle, Patti Smith (68 at the time) says that she still tries to have long walks.

The takeaway: Art is about slow time. If you are a weekend artist trying to get a poem or painting done, taking walks will introduce you to new things to feature in your work.

Serena Williams, tennis player

Among achievers, athletes have the most organized schedules. They have to follow a strict routine of practice, practice, practice. But Serena Williams, one of the best tennis players in the world, also makes time for other physical activities, according to Owaves. She does strength training daily. Is it any wonder she has the tenacity and energy to win?

The takeaway: Health is a cornerstone of success. Treat exercise not just as an activity for aesthetics. Work out for vitality, strength, and endurance.

Susan Sontag, writer and filmmaker

Susan Sontag lived at a time when social media and smartphones were not yet around, yet she tried to have time for herself—away from the landline phone. In a 1977 diary entry featured in Brain Pickings, Susan Sontag wrote: "I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone."

The takeaway: Have a phone-free hour to do more work or rest from a day of coordinating through e-mail and mobile apps.

Meryl Streep, actress

Meryl Streep is a headline-making actress and yet she is not one to reveal too much about herself. In 2012, Forbes had to look into her tax records to find information on Silver Mountain Foundation, an under-the-radar philanthropy group that Streep founded with her husband. The foundation has given millions to schools and organizations such as Oxfam and the National Women's Museum. According to Inside Philanthropy, Silver Mountain has also supported artistic endeavors such as New York Shakespeare Festival.

The takeaway: Giving is a sign of being grateful for what you have. Successful people always know how to give back. You can opt to be part of or support a group whose cause you respect. You may not be there physically every day, but your regular contributions can count as a daily habit—your support could mean everyday food for some.

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

When JK Rowling started to write Harry Potter, she did not let ideas go unrecorded. Once, she wrote them down on a napkin. She even made a plot grid on paper—an analog Excel sheet with codes. 

The takeaway: Make sure to jot down an idea, no matter how simple. Have a notebook handy or use your phone if you must. Little phrases or ideas may turn into something big, just like Rowling's worldwide hit.

Recommended Videos
About The Author
Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
View Other Articles From Kwyn Kenaz Aquino
Latest Stories
Grace Kelly's great-grandchildren were quite a presence on the Palace balcony.
The wife of Napoleon III was ultimately exiled to England, but at least she had a pair of 19th-century natural pearl earrings.
And which day should you book to score the best deals?
Preparing for holiday potlucks just got a little easier.
From Fleabag's Olivia Colman to Harry Potter's Helena Bonham Carter, here are the new faces in the Netflix royal drama.
The celebrated photographer made headlines throughout his life for his royal connections and scandalous behavior.
The ideal way to escape this country’s scorching heat.
These stylish sweaters will definitely give you something to be thankful for.
Load More Articles