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Warren Buffett: Habits of Success

There are many dimensions to a business genius like Warren Buffett, but today we are focusing on one thing only: Warren Buffett’s habits of success. Much like compound interest, good habits build unto themselves. They lay the groundwork for achievements.

The Five by Twenty-Five Rule


Warren Buffett’s success begun with something called the 5/25 rule. He relayed it to pilot Mike Flint, and it’s a great piece of advice.


Step 1: make a list of your top 25 career goals.

Step 2: pick 5 that are the most important.

Step 3: ignore the other 20.


Initially, Mike Flint misinterpreted Buffett’s message. He kept looking into the twenty goals he had crossed out and treated them as something to save for later. Buffett was quick to correct him: if you want to succeed, you must actively avoid all other commitments.


Saying no at the right time, according to Warren Buffett, is a vital skill to have. He prioritizes his to-do lists mercilessly – and names time as his most valuable resource.

Note-Taking: Habit of the Successful


Warren Buffett takes notes using regular pen and paper. He has a dedicated notebook, but sometimes he writes on envelopes, random scraps, or in the margins. It’s nothing as cutting-edge as a wearable productivity AI, but it works.


Buffett has the habit of writing all the time, which might explain his aversion to digital documents. It’s a part of his thinking process. Being able to explain your thoughts – to yourself and others – is very important.


“You should be able to explain why you bought something in a paragraph,” says Buffett.

The Man Who Does Not Multitask


Warren Buffett avoids multitasking. All of his activities are neatly compartmentalized and do not overlap. He wakes up at around 7 a.m. and spends 80% of his time reading reports and thinking; the rest, having (short but polite) phone calls. It all looks incredibly relaxing.



And here is the thing: Warren Buffett likes to keep his schedule “light”. We know this because of Bill Gates (you can read about his note-taking techniques here), who was fascinated with Buffett’s productivity so much he mentioned it in multiple interviews.


“It took far too long for me to realize that you don’t have to fill every second of your schedule to be successful. […] In hindsight, it’s a lesson I could have learned a lot sooner had I taken more peeks at Warren Buffett’s intentionally light calendar.”


“I remember Warren showing me his calendar. You know, I had every minute packed, and I thought that was the only way you could do things. […] The fact that he is so careful not to crowd yourself too much and give yourself time to read, think, and write.”


Keep a calendar, but do not let the calendar keep you. Even Warren Buffett finds the time to play bridge. It might even be in his top five priorities!

Warren Buffett: Habits of Success Are Compound Interest


Finally, Warren Buffett’s habits of success hinge on something that is not secret at all: the good old compound interest. When asked how he acquired the knowledge that allowed him to come out on top, Buffett said that compound interest applies to life as well as finance. Experience makes experience.


[I became rich] due to three things: living in America for the great opportunities, having good genes so I lived a long time, and compound interest.


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