habits and habitats

A Look Into The Habits and Habitats of High Performers (Interview Series)

Have you ever wondered how high performers become high performers?

What do they actually do, how do they go about their schedules and goals, what software and apps do they use to stay productive, what do they read, how do they think, etc?

You read all these blog posts and articles online (and on this blog) providing great information and advice on productivity and time management, but when you see someone actually putting them to use, that’s when the rubber hits the road.

I’ve always been fascinated by how people do what they do, so today we are starting a new interview series.

A Look Into The Habits and Habitats of High Performers

You’ll get a behind the scenes look into the days of some of the most productive people. From entrepreneurs and authors to productivity experts, business moguls and consultants, I’ve prepared a great line-up for you. You’ll get to read about what motivates them, how they deal with failure, what are their most efficient habits, how does their workstation look like and much more.

The first guest

Since I’ll be doing the interview and asking all the questions, it is only fair to go though the process myself first. So the first person to be ever interviewed in this series is going to be… me.


Who are you and what do you do?

Kosio Angelov is the name, productivity is my game. I am the author of “The Lean Email Simple System” which became an Amazon best-seller and the person behind High Performance Lifestyle. If you are really, really, interested in my whole life story you can read it in excruciating detail here.

What’s the first thing that you do when you wake up?

Drink as much water as I possibly can. The recommendation I give to people is half a liter, but that is not always possible so I go for as much as I can.

How does your typical day look like (start, end, type of activities)?

After I’ve had my water, I do a little bit of yoga, if the weather is not cooperative (I live in Canada so this is the case 6 months out of the year), or go out for a walk. This gets my mind and body fully awake and ready for what the day has to offer. When I come back, it’s breakfast time (eggs, spinach and turkey bacon if you have to ask) and then I hit my desk and my work day officially begins.

Most of my days are spent in front of some sort of a screen writing blog posts, creating products for my awesome customers and making videos. I do that till about noon when I take a break for lunch. Do some more work and when the afternoon sluggishness hits, I retreat to the gym for the daily workout which lasts about an hour and a half. Some more work when I am back, dinner, a little more work and around 9 PM I’m officially wiped out and ready to go into relaxation mode.

Besides sleep, what activity takes the most out of your day/night?

They are two actually. Writing (blog posts, books, products, marketing campaigns, emails, etc.) and reading (books, blog posts, case studies, research, etc.)

How many emails pass through your inbox every day?

Not that many actually. I’ve managed to reduce my email count dramatically. Between my personal and business accounts, I probably have to process about 30 – 35 emails.

How often do you think about your goals, review them, and take action on them?

Think about them, daily. Review them, weekly. Take action, daily (except Saturdays which are no-goals-allowed zone for me).

What are the essential habits that you’ve formed to help you achieve your goals?

The one that has helped me the most is doing the most meaningful task for the day first thing when I start working. Before I check my emails, pick up the phone, or open myself to the world, I take care of that one or two super high-priority tasks. This way I start the day right and I know that regardless of what happens from this point onward, my day is not going to be wasted.

Another one is working in short bursts of 45 – 50 minutes followed by a mini break. I used to work “till I drop” for a few hours at a time, but I noticed that after 45 minutes my productivity and my creativity drop significantly and so does the quality of my work. When I switched to shorter periods of time, my productivity exploded.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Wunderlist, my favorite to-do list application. Without it my days would be a total mess and I would have no idea what I need to do, what I need to pick up when I go shopping, or even what movie to see.

Gmail. A lot of people hate their inbox, but I love mine. Most of my communication these days happens through Gmail (both personal and business) and once I learned how to eliminate all the garbage messages and only be left with the ones from people that I care about, I started to really like the whole experience. Gmail makes it so easy and fast. I don’t know how people do it with Outlook or any other email client.

Asana for project management and communication with my team. It reduced my email count by a lot and it keeps everything neat and organized and everyone on the same page as to what needs to be done and when.

WhatsApp for keeping in touch with the world. I don’t text anymore and none of my friends (and even family) do. WhatsApp is where the action is happening these days.

Evernote for keeping my digital existence organized and backed up. From saving important “strokes of genius” I come across online, to keeping track of financials, statements and other important documents, to even automatically backing up my blog, I use Evernote daily.

What’s your workspace setup like (brownie points for including a picture)?

Nothing too fancy. I am a PC person (weird, I know) and I have a standard-issue Ikea desk with a 17-inch monitor, propped by a corporate finance textbook to remind of my of the good college days and Bose speakers (don’t know how I lived without them).

I have all the gadgets that a geek like me would have (MacBook Air, Dell laptop, Kindle, iPad, wireless headphones, you get the idea), but I rarely use them for work, unless I’m traveling. Most of what I do happens on this desk and this computer:

the desk of kosio angelov

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Increasing my typing speed. People don’t realize it, but the average person who works on a computer writes about 20,000 words per week (the rough equivalent of as small book). When you write a book a week, increasing your speed by even 5% leads to dramatic savings in time.
Also, taking the stairs. I hate waiting for the elevator. It seems like such a waste of time (unless you live on the 132nd floor of course). Take the stairs, it is quicker and a good exercise.

How do you deal with failure and how do you pick yourself up if you are struggling?

To me failure is not really failure, but learning what doesn’t work. Sounds cheesy, I know, but that’s the way I’m wired. If you really want to make something happen, in this day and age, where people build multi-billion dollar companies in 4 years (think WhatsApp), sprinters break world records with prosthetic legs and people carry their entire lives in their pockets, everything is possible if you want it bad enough.
If something doesn’t work out for me I take a step back, get outside, away from all the screens, and re-think my plan of action.

What motives you to do what you do?

Seeing other people succeed. I draw inspiration from seeing what is possible in the world and how every-day people turn into superstars in their fields through hard work and having a passion for what you do.

Also, the desire to be in control of my own choices and time.

What’s in your RSS reader (what blogs do you follow)?

The list is quite extensive. Mainly productivity, marketing and entrepreneurship blogs.

Here are a few examples.

Productivity:

Buffer
A Year Of Productivity
zenhabits
Asian Efficiency
Marc and Angel
Time Management Ninja
James Clear

Marketing and business:

Quicksprout
Copy Blogger
Seth Godin
KISSmetrics
Brian Gardner
Yoast
Jon Loomer

If you invite me for a cup of tea what types of books would I find on your shelf at home (more brownie points for including a picture)?

Mostly non-fiction books about productivity, business, marketing and start-ups.

This is on my desk:

kosio angelov books
If you could have dinner with any person (dead or alive) who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would cheat and give two people :)

Tim Ferriss, just because he is such a fascinating guy. I would ask him how does he find the time to do everything that he does.

Steve Jobs. Ever since I read his biography, I’ve realized how interesting it would be to have a talk with him. A question I would ask him is what kept him so motivated all those years to keep pushing and innovating.

What’s your favorite success quote?

They change a lot, but the current one that keeps me going is “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs”

Over to you now

Now you know a little more about me and how I do what I do. Share in the comment section below what you think about the idea for the interview series and of course, if you have any questions for me. Also, feel free to shoot me and email, or head over to Twitter and let’s chat.