It’s easy to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day when you’re a 6 or 7 figure business owner. So much to do, so little time, right? And so little energy, too!
One of the biggest struggles my clients describe when they first start working with me is that they aren’t seeing the results they want to, even when they’re putting in their best efforts. Some people work ‘normal’ hours and want to work a lot less, and others find themselves grinding morning, noon, and night to little or no avail.
The truth is, though, if you want to be a high achiever, you need to operate at more efficient levels of physical and mental performance by adopting habits that set you up for success. Truly, that’s the only way to accomplish all the things you’ve had your eyes (and heart) set on.
I’ve been on my own journey toward high performance for a number of years now and, while there is still room for growth, I’ve already seen an incredible impact in my life and business. So if you aren’t hitting the targets you set for yourself and are keen to learn how you can get more done in less time so you can become the industry leader you know you have the knowledge and skillset to be – keep reading.
In this post, I’m sharing the high performance habits I’ve personally adopted (and recommend my clients do, too!) to stop being busy, and start being productive!
Let’s dive in…
1. So what is high performance?
According to Brendon Burchard (the #1 New York Times best-selling author of High Performance Habits), high performance refers to “succeeding beyond standard norms, consistently over the long term”.
High performers are also “uniquely productive”, he says, in that “they’ve mastered prolific quality output”.
The fundamentals of becoming more productive, according to Brendon Burchard, are simple:
- Setting goals
- Maintaining energy and focus
And I’ve certainly found that to be true.
As you may know, I was actually mentored by Brendon Burchard, as I take my productivity seriously. My husband James deeply believes in Brendon Burchard’s philosophies, too – so much so that he certified as a coach through Brendon’s High Performance Insitute and has now entirely dedicated himself to supporting entrepreneurs in mastering physical mental, and emotional performance so they can become more successful (and stay that way!).
So let’s talk about the first piece, then, which is the setting of goals…
Goals are just dreams with deadlines… or as I prefer to say, desires with deadlines. When you have clearly defined goals, you become more engaged (a.k.a. excited to work at achieving them), which is why I meticulously plan everything out (read about my planning process, here). Research has shown that goals inspire people to work more quickly and for longer periods of time. Goals also motivate them to increase their overall effort… but of course, there’s a catch.
Although goals are great energizers in that they give people somewhere to direct their energy and focus, both of those things must be maintained. Think about it: if you aren’t generating enough energy or using it effectively, you’re going to find yourself feeling drained and your work is going to suffer for it. It’s hard to keep consistent when you’re running out of fuel, right? And another consistency killer is, of course, focus. The more you stop and start tasks because you aren’t energized or have gotten distracted or interrupted, the longer it’s going to take you to do your work…
How much or little energy you have is a major determiner of how productive you’ll be, so you need to ensure you have a system for generating enough of it. The easiest way to do this, of course, is by getting adequate rest.
2.1 Protect your sleep
I first heard the phrase ‘protect your sleep’ when I went to an event called the Titan Summit, run by Robin Sharma in Zurich, Switzerland years ago. I’d never really thought about sleep that way before, that we actually need to protect it… but if you take only one thing from this conversation with me today, I really hope it’s to protect your sleep. How much sleep you get truly affects everything. It affects your mindset, your mood, how quickly your brain is working, how efficiently your brain is working… even the foods you eat, and how well/often you exercise!
I’ve had so many clients tell me that they don’t need sleep, or that they’ve always been a bad sleeper, and that they really don’t think it’s something worth focusing on because they manage to make 6 or 7 figures on 4-6 hours per night. But… when someone tells me that, I always ask them this question:
Can you imagine how much more successful you would be with just 1/2/3 more hours of sleep? Seriously, can you?
I take sleep VERY seriously now, and my performance and productivity have increased tremendously as a result of doing so. I wear an Oura ring which tracks my sleep data, and James and I even have a no television rule in the bedroom because we know how unhelpful that kind of mental stimulation is for getting adequate rest!
But… getting a good night’s sleep isn’t the ONLY way to generate energy. Another way to boost your energy levels is to exercise. Regularly… as I alluded to earlier. When I started working out, you have no idea how much changed.
2.2 Exercise Regularly
Lots of people think that increasing physical activity will make them LESS productive as they’re using up more of their energy reserves, but although it may seem counterintuitive, it absolutely isn’t. You see, exercise increases the production of something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which allows new neurons to grow and results in increased plasticity.
Why should you care about that?
Because the more plasticity your brain has, the better your ability to learn fast and remember more. Exercise also decreases stress which is a killer of mental performance. Whereas exercise increases the production of BDNF, stress depletes the brain of it. When I realized how much I would be affected cognitively by not exercising regularly enough, I kicked my butt straight into gear!
2.3 Nourish Yourself
A third and final way to generate energy is to eat good food – food that’s nutrient-dense. Our food is our fuel after all, and not all foods are created equal!
If I start my day with a bunch of sugar and caffeine only to crash mid-afternoon, that’s not going to bode well for the tasks you’ve assigned yourself, is it? You can’t be having energy slumps or brain fog if you want to be performing at your peak (FYI, I could not start my day without coffee, so instead of removing it from my morning routine altogether, I drink really clean coffee. As I share in this podcast episode here, I only drink coffee that’s been lab-tested for performance-robbing toxins and had those removed so that it doesn’t affect my ability to work or the results I produce.)
I’m actually working with a nutritionist right now and have been for some time. She’s called Mona Sharma, if you’re interested, and has supported many leaders and celebrities, including Will Smith. When I first started my business, I didn’t want to hear that upleveling my diet, exercise, and sleep habits could make such a difference but boy was I wrong.
Finally, you need to maintain focus if you want to be productive. I know this isn’t easy in the digital day and age – you are forever being interrupted and getting distracted – so let me give you some tools and techniques for reducing the risk of that. The best strategy is always prevention when it comes to this kind of thing, after all, and over the years I’ve found some helpful ways to keep my eyes on the prize.
If you’re constantly being interrupted by people – clients, team, and so on – when you’re in the middle of work and the sounds of Slack and Voxer messages are starting to drive you around the bend, consider this: turn them off. Not just the sound, but the notifications themselves, too.
I know that can be a bit worrisome for people. Oftentimes my clients are afraid that they’re going to miss something important… but if you schedule once or twice daily check-ins, people aren’t going to wait any longer than 4-8 working hours, are they? That’s hardly a disaster, and you can have a backup plan (with your OBM or COO, for example) if there’s a real emergency (not just a perceived emergency) that needs your immediate attention.
You may not even notice how much time you’re spending on comms, on and off, throughout the day. If that’s you, perhaps you could try tracking your time using something like Toggl or Harvest to see just how much and often you’re breaking your focus to answer a question or find someone something they need?
Although I’m someone who thinks she easily ‘bounces back’ from interruptions, that’s pretty much a farce and most people aren’t… which brings me to my next point…
Yes, it’s probably not new information to you that distractions stall our productivity, but how aware of your distractions were you and the effect they were having? Studies have shown that regular distractions when working on challenging mental tasks can slow our thinking by almost 50%!
To find out where your focus is being broken, be sure to answer the following questions… they’re incredibly revealing!
- My most common distractions and/or competing interests are…
- I can eliminate or minimize these distractions and/or competing interests by…
Brendon Burchard argues that one of the biggest focus breaks (and actually, energy leaks!) he sees in people are the transitions between activities and tasks, so let’s talk about that.
When you get up in the morning, that’s a transition – you’ve gone from a sleeping to a waking state. Getting ready to making coffee and breakfast? Another transition. Drinking that coffee and eating that breakfast to cleaning up after yourself? Another transition. Dropping your kids off at school to getting to work? Another transition. And then just think how many ‘home’ activities you switch between daily, never mind all the work-related activities.
One of the ways I minimize distractions is by time-blocking, a.k.a. Placing tasks not just in order or priority, but bundling the same TYPES of task together so I don’t lose too much focus or energy as I move from one thing to the next. For me that might look like placing right-brained (creative/intuition) tasks together like brainstorming or writing, and left-brained (logical/rational) tasks together like data collection/analysis or admin. I also like to block my meetings, where possible, so I don’t keep getting pulled into Zoom rooms when I’m in flow or on a roll.
If you aren’t time-blocking this yet, I *highly* recommend it. Even if it’s just splitting the week up into meeting days and focused workdays to start off with. Also, it should go without saying that if you want to be productive multitasking is a no-go. You can hardly achieve peak concentration if you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time.
So there you have it! My top 3 high performance, productivity habits – goals, energy, and focus. I know you may resist making some of these changes, but if you feel any reluctance to adopt these habits remember that committing to doing so is a way of committing to yourself and your success.
If you need further support from myself and James with your productivity so you can actually go and get all the goals you set in your business and beyond, have you considered applying for a VIP Day?
If you work with us face-to-face for a day as a VIP, whether that be on your own or in a group, you’ll have the benefit of learning the productivity habits you personally need to adopt to perform at your peak, as well as the other things you need to have to be a high performer, such as influence, courage, and CLARITY.