Money

Billionaire Richard Branson's surprisingly simple productivity hack is something anyone can do

Richard Branson
Getty Images | Aaron Davidson
Richard Branson

There are only so many hours in one day, yet some of the most successful people seem to pack a lot more into 24 hours than others.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson has built eight billion-dollar companies in eight different sectors, starting with Virgin in 1970. The 66-year-old billionaire has also written six books, established a non-profit foundation and still finds time to kite surf and play tennis regularly.

His strategy for getting everything done is simple enough: "I make lists — lots of them," ranging from lists of people to call and upcoming plans to lists of ideas and companies to set up, he writes on his blog.

"Each day I work through these lists," he continues. "By ticking off each task, my ideas take shape and plans move forward."

Branson, who prefers handwritten lists and goes through dozens of notebooks every year, recommends making lists of small daily tasks, but also "far off, outlandish goals. What do you want to have achieved by 2020? How about 2050?" These should be personal as well as business-oriented goals, he says.

"Write down every single idea you have, no matter how big or small," he says. You never know what's going to hit.

Branson credits some of his most successful companies to the simple habit of jotting down ideas: "Some of Virgin's most successful companies have been born from random moments — if we hadn't opened our notebooks, they would never have happened."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

Don't miss: What billionaire Jim Koch asks himself every morning to boost his productivity