The Definitive Guide to Business

Why you should consider working over the holiday if you want to get ahead

If you want to be successful, you'll have to put in the work, says John D. Spooner, author of "No One Ever Told Us That: Money And Life Lessons For Young Adults." And that could include coming in over the holidays.

Spooner is a Harvard-educated, Boston Globe No. 1 best-selling author who was named one of the 100 best financial advisors in America by financial website Barron's. And he says that, unless you inherited wealth and position, you'll have to make some trade-offs in order to get what you want.

"One of them may be that you have to show up to work when no one else is there," he writes.

Other successful entrepreneurs, such as self-made millionaire Grant Cardone, agree. "There are 168 hours in a week," Cardone tells CNBC. "You should be working most of them." He says he logs about 95 hours of work each week.

Show up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, even Valentine's Day and Columbus Day, to focus on getting ahead, suggests Cardone. "If you want to change your condition, you have to work," he says. And "if you can outwork the rest of the population, you're going to get lucky."

Still, Spooner acknowledges that putting in too many extra hours can have its downsides.

"There are negatives to working your tails off and climbing various ladders to success. You could get rich, but at what personal costs? Almost all billionaires I have known are unbelievably focused on the business of their career," he says. "[You have to] understand what you're willing to give up to attain great wealth."

It helps to budget your time. "There are exceptions to this obsession with and focus on the prize at all costs," Spooner says. Even while dedicating a great deal of time to his profession, he adds, "I still had dinner with my entire family virtually every night."

Similarly, billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says the formula for success isn't just hard work. It takes determination, ingenuity and a little bit of laziness. Yes, laziness.

"You want to minimize friction and find the most effective, most efficient way forward," Hoffman says on an episode of "The Tim Ferriss Show." "You might actually have more grit if you treat your energy as a precious commodity."

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is an example of how this approach can work. By his estimate, he's spent 80 percent of his career reading and thinking, and is still one of the world's most successful people.

If you want to bolster your chances of success, work hard (and perhaps at off-hours) but work smart. Make the most of your time by keeping a clean work space. Princeton University research shows that a cluttered desk can lead to reduced productivity.

Create a to-do list. Consolidating everything into one list can eliminate disorganization and forgetfulness.

Don't put things off. Once something gets your attention, act on it or delegate it, but don't procrastinate. Prioritizing tasks and planning ahead can help you get a jump on each day.

And lastly, don't forget to make some time for yourself, especially if you're coming in on a weekend or a holiday. Take a lunch break or go for a walk. Exercise has been shown to increase memory, awareness and productivity.

While working when most other people aren't can seem like a drag, if you use the right strategies, you'll see rewards in the long run.

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