5 Habits That Will Change Your Life

Cultivate Focus. Own the day.

The five focus habits that will change everything.

The following set of habits serve as a toolkit for cultivating deliberate focus for improved work outcomes. The results of which (if executed properly) can put up to 20 hours back in your week to do with as you please. These tips come from some of the best in the world and we hope you find them as helpful as we did. See supplemental “Lead Domino Task Tool” file to implement this as a daily/weekly/monthly habit and watch your focus and productivity skyrocket.

Habit One: Know your lead domino, the night before.

When you arrive at your work space, you should already know the answer to the critical question: What is my lead domino?

We define “lead domino” as: the one task that (once completed), will make all other tasks easier or irrelevant. Without knowing the answer to this question, all efforts to drive incremental gains in focus will be done in vain. Focus is only important when applied to the right things. Focus, when applied to the wrong things, is merely an act of wheel spinning disguised as productivity, which will stand in the way of getting the results you desire.

Why the night before? If you wait until your start of day to answer this critical question, you will miss out on the magic that happens in your down time, as the subconscious mind goes to work and the creative center of the brain is engaged in what scientists refer to as the “diffuse mode” of thought. In diffuse mode thinking, the brain is able to wander freely, jumping to new, unexplored solutions to our most difficult problems without conscious effort and without a pre-existing mental road map. This can be contrasted with the focus mode of thought, which is more reliant upon pre-existing mental maps for solving problems.

Sometimes your lead domino will be obvious, other times it can take a bit more time to figure out. We’ve built a deceivingly simple but powerful tool that can help make this determination, called the “lead domino task tool” included in this e-book. The time you commit to this exercise upfront will pay off and help avoid countless hours of tasks that will be rendered easy or obsolete when the lead domino is found.

Hours Gained: 5 Hours/Week

Habit 1 Execution: Use the attached lead domino file (see “instructions” sheet for step by step guidance). Feel free to re-create this by free hand, if preferred). After completing, all potential tasks you could do and expected benefits/outcomes from each will be documented and you should have a clear idea of what your lead domino for the day ahead is.  

Lastly, If your lead domino for the day ahead is still unclear after this exercise, don’t stress. Re-visit this in the morning and you may be surprised at the level of clarity you have after letting your subconscious mind go to work in your down time.

Lead Domino Example in Action: If you are a sales executive for a Bank and your firm is looking for you to drive new revenue, you might decide to host an informational event for top tier clients (and their industry peers), who have a clear interest in your presentation. Here you can demonstrate thought leadership while building trust (at scale) and create a unique opportunity for your best clients to mingle with your prospects who have self identified as being strong candidates for your offering.

As mentioned above, conquering the lead domino makes all other tasks easier or obsolete. In this example, you would likely walk away from this meeting with a new source of much warmer leads (Lead Domino), so calling, setting up meetings, and closing new business (ie - all other dominoes) will become that much easier to knock down.

Habit Two: Establish a “Don’t Do” list.

The benefits of a well crafted “to do” list are pretty well understood at this point. Knowing what not to do is less commonly talked about, but can be of equal importance.

Habit Two Execution:

Any tasks with a value score of 2 or below on your lead domino template are distractions that may prevent you from achieving your goals. Use the template to isolate and steer clear of anything on the “Don’t Do” list  


Habit Three: Know and protect your peak performance window, AKA, the “Power Block”

We all have different times of day where we operate better than others. My sweet spot happens to be the hours between 10:00am and 1:00 pm, therefore I make it a habit to block this time and treat it as a sacred pillar of my daily productivity. Most often, because of my ability to perform better during this window, I am able to get 2-3x more done than other time of day.

Pro tip: Some high performers recommend an earlier start to the day, when it is naturally easier to avoid distraction (as everyone else is sleeping at 4am!). But this is not a requirement, so long as you are able to shut out any and all distractions.

Hours Gained: 2.5 hours/week

Habit Three Execution: Carve out your three hour “Power Block” and set as a recurring, daily calendar event. In addition to keeping you disciplined, this will also prevent others from requesting your presence in meetings during this time. Shut down all applications, including IM and email. Close all windows on your computer not directly related to the task at hand. Put on a pair of noise cancelling headphones if you don’t have a door on your office space. Set a timer for 1 hour and 20 minutes (giving yourself a 10 minute break at the mid way point to stretch, walk, etc.)

Habit Four: Leverage Parkinson’s Law

This is a power move that once implemented, will immediately take your focus to the next level.

“Parkinson’s Law” is the notion that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, if we have a project due in three months, the project will take three months to complete. By setting strict self-imposed and aggressive deadlines (ahead of their actual due dates),  you will amaze yourself by how you are able to come up with better solutions in half the time.

Habit Four Execution: Because the time urgency is self regulated, it’s important to put mechanisms in place to help hold you accountable.

For example, you might try making a commitment to a loved one to be back home in time for dinner every night, which will require you to cut yourself off at the end of the day. Due to this impending time cutoff, you will make sure your most important task of the day is completed with urgent priority. Set a time limit and stick to it. Most things can get done within your power block of time.

I implement this for daily, weekly and monthly goals.  

With time urgency created and accountability to back it up, there is less room for internal debate, unproductive wheel spinning and procrastination. You will likely tap into a heightened ability to problem solve and tackle lead dominoes in a more effective way while simultaneously improving your quality of life outside of work.  

Hours Gained: 2.5 hours/week

Habit Five: Give Your Brain a Natural Edge

As I got older, I noticed diminishing energy returns from carbohydrate based energy sources. By mid afternoon on most days, I struggled to apply a deep level of focus I needed to push my business forward and this was incredibly frustrating. What made this even worse, when I got home from work, I had expended all my energy reserves and had nothing left in the tank to give my growing family. I decided to make a change, because the stakes were just too high. My career goals and family relationships were on the line.

After months of self-experimentation, I shifted towards a low carb lifestyle after reading about the neuroprotective benefits it can have via reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which have been shown to support brain health. After a couple weeks, the benefits were noticeable. I was getting more restful sleep (like magic my lifelong snoring problem had resolved itself, likely attributed to anti-inflammatory benefits), cravings and mid-afternoon brain fog had significantly improved and my energy levels lasted well into the night (long after I put my daughter to bed).

It was during this shift towards low carb living that I learned about the benefits of Medium Chain Triglycerides (AKA “MCT Oil”). These coconut derived fatty acids have been a little secret enjoyed by the Keto crowd for a few years, but only recently have started to gain mainstream acceptance (for good reason). They have been coined the term “super fuel” as they are highly bioavailable due to their shorter carbon chain length, making them easier to break down and used as an immediate source of energy. When converted into ketones, they can cross the blood brain barrier and provide up to 70% of the brains energy needs.

There are a few available on Amazon and at natural grocery stores. Start with powder form, as it is easier on the stomach than oils, and steer clear of products with synthetic additives (like Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Benzoate, etc.)

We’ve just finished building a product called “ready to FOCUS” that incorporates the best bioavailable MCT’s for the brain and has been specifically optimized to support extended focus for improved work outcomes. It also contains prebiotic acacia fiber that supports gut health (due to the link between gut health and brain health known as the “Gut Brain Axis”.  If interested, you can learn more and reserve a one month supply here, while supplies last.

We hope you find these habits effective in cultivating deliberate focus for improved work outcomes.  


Instructions: How to use the Lead Domino Task Tool


Step

1

Enter all potential tasks the night before your next workday.

2

Assign an importance score (1-5), with 5 being the most important and 1 being the least important tasks. Try to only have a single task obtain a score of 5.

3

The 5 you’ve identified is your lead domino for the next day, to be completed during your "power block" of deep work.

4

Review generated “Don’t Do” list candidates in column G to help steer clear of distractions.

5

Schedule a block of uninterrupted time in your calendar to complete the Lead Domino task identified in step 3.

6

Batch all less critical tasks (rated 1-4) that can't be eliminated or automated for your second time block.  

7

Repeat this process for weekly and monthly goals and watch your focus and productivity skyrocket.