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This post includes some incredible expert tips that did not fit neatly into the rest of the 10x Your Productivity series.

When we started this series, we started with the idea that real productivity is about making the wisest possible investment of your time, at work and at home.

The BIG Idea: Real productivity is about knowing your purpose, using your gifts, living your values, and doing more things that matter every day.

9 Elite Tips

1. Sleep at least 7+ hours per day—Lebron James has been called “the most powerful athlete in the world” by Forbes magazine. What is his secret weapon? It might surprise you. In a follow up 2017 Forbes article, Lebron was highlighted as sleeping 12 hours per day—on average!

A Gallup poll in 2013 indicated that the average American sleeps 6.8 hour per night. Most sleep studies recommend between 7 and 9 hours at least.  Even more concerning, research has even shown that not sleeping enough can have the same effect on your performance as being drunk!

One of my all-time favorite Harvard Business Review articles is The Making of a Corporate Athlete (2001). Authors Jim Loehr (a sports psychologist) and his partner Tony Schwartz have taken several decades of their knowledge in working with world-class athletes and applied these principles to working with elite leaders.

What do they suggest? Things like sleep, downtime, rest, exercise, and self-care are absolutely vital to reaching your potential, and sustaining a long and successful leadership career.

2. Use theme days—Many elite entrepreneurs and companies stack similar activities on one day to maximize productivity.

I once heard Michael Hyatt say that he records all of his podcasts in the course of a few days for every quarter. He gets into a zone with interview questions and a systematic rhythm of cranking out multiple podcasts—then he is done for 3 months.

Similarly, many great companies stack meetings on one day of the week to free up tons of time later in the week for their people to do their best work. For example, we’ve recently been stacking most of our meeting in Forensics on Mondays. We know we have a heavy meeting day on Mondays, but the rest of the week isn’t fragmented by random meetings that interrupt deep focus.

Again—large chunks of uninterrupted time is vital to producing better work.

For my family, Sunday is all about rest and recharging spiritually. No matter what happens during the week, I look forward to time with my family every week on Sunday.

3. Plan every day in advance—If you only want to read one book on productivity, I highly recommend Eat That Frog by author and coach Brian Tracy. The chapters are 2 pages long and the book contains 21 great tips he put together after a lifetime of studying productivity.

One of his primary tips in the book is to plan every day in advance. This advice is found in different forms everywhere from Steven Covey to John Maxwell to many, many, other successful people.

Don’t let your day get highjacked by the crisis of the day. Of course, some days our plan will be blown to bits, but most people don’t start each day consciously thinking about their desired outcomes.

Ask yourself every single day, “What is most important?”

4. Outsource things you hate to do—Spending too much time in our drudgery zone saps vital energy and kills motivation.

This one might seem silly, but one of my favorite recent discoveries in outsourcing that changed our lives is grocery delivery to your door. Getting groceries every week used to take 3-4 valuable hours every Saturday morning. Now I haven’t been to the grocery store much in the last 2 years!

Stores like Raley’s have eCart and companies like Instacart allow you to shop at Costco without a membership and have it delivered to you. If you order enough, your fee is usually minimal with these services. You can even save your list online for the items you regularly order and just check boxes next time.

This could save you between 8 and 16 hours per month and you might even spend less money by not mindlessly dropping items into your cart. I don’t see a downside!

5. Touch things once—Productivity guru David Allen says, “If something takes only 2 minutes, just do it right away and don’t think about it again.” Set times each day to do mundane short tasks. Just don’t let them interrupt times of deep focus.

6. Say No to good opportunities—We are more hyper-connected than any time in history. Because of this, we face social pressure and expectations to say Yes to many things every day.

But the most productive people have clear goals and say No to all kinds of good opportunities, so they can say Yes to their highest contribution to the world.

You may have heard the recently popular saying, “If it’s not a Hell Yeah!—It’s a No.”

7. Replicate any process you use frequently—You can do this at work and at home. My wife and I absolutely love backpacking. For me, there is no feeling like taking off into the wilderness for several days of adventure and disconnection from the world.

Before I met my wife, I would simply throw things into my car at the last minute. But after a few trips of forgetting her gloves in a freak snowstorm, or running low on food, we quickly developed a comprehensive list. Wanting to stay happily married was a great motivator for me! Now it takes us far less time to get ready and we haven’t forgotten any key items in years.

Do this for any process you use frequently. Invest the time upfront in designing your process—save boatloads of time in the future. Do not reinvent the wheel each time.

8. Improve your ability to use an assistant—If you have an assistant, chances are you don’t utilize them enough. Take the time to read an article on how to better utilize them (see article below).

9. Protect Sunday nights—Ever get a sudden burst of anxiety on Sunday afternoon when thinking about Monday morning? It’s quite common. For this reason, I love the recommendation of protecting Sundays as relaxation time. And as a person of faith, the Sabbath creates a great end of week rhythm for me, but Sunday night is the Fort Knox of my Calendar. I start every week better when I know I have protected time to plan my week and go to bed early on Sundays.

That is unquestionably one of the best decisions I have ever made with my time.

If you apply the things you have learned in this 12-part series, you will set yourself on track to become more productive than almost anyone you know.

Your homework—Turn information into action

  1. Try doing a “meetings day” for your team to free up their other time in the week. Do this for 60 days and see what people think.
  2. Try one month of not scheduling any activities on Sunday nights. Plan your week ahead and go to bed early. Then see how you feel.
  3. Outsource one household task you hate doing. Try it for one month and decide if it was worth the money to buy back your time and energy.

Have a great weekend!


Suggested Resources

  1. The Making of a Corporate Athlete (Harvard Business)
  2. This is how many hours of sleep Lebron James gets per day
  3. The CEOs secret weapon: a strong executive assistant
  4. Eat that frog—by Brian Tracy
  5. Sleep Deprivation is just as bad for performance as Alcohol



Dr. Parker Houston

Parker Houston

Dr. Parker Houston is a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified in organizational psychology. He is also certified in personal and executive coaching. Parker's personal mission is to share science-based principles of psychology and timeless spiritual practices, to help people improve the way they lead themselves, their families, and their organizations. *Opinions expressed are the author's own.
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