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A Matter Of Debate

The 12 Domains of Productivity and What CEOs Need to Know

Business People

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is a classic. For those who haven’t read it or aren’t familiar with it, it’s essentially the distillation of the wisdom of 500 millionaires at the time – Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. Hill came up with 13 principles that all successful people of which many people say desire and the Mastermind are the most important. It took him more than 20 years.

More recently, I heard best-selling author of Eat That Frog Brian Tracy say he has spent over 100,000 hours studying productivity and time management. Compared to him, my 15,000 hours make me like a “nub” as my son likes to say.

But here’s the thing, I’m able to stand on the shoulders of these giants. I didn’t need to spent 20 years or 100,000 hours digging through material or talking to individuals. They, and others, have done much of it for me, allowing me to expand upon their genius.

While the fundamentals don’t change, thanks to scientific breakthroughs we continually uncover new and exciting ideas to add on to their work. Take Brendon Burchard who spent years studying the psychology and science of productivity. He taught me that by simply not checking your email first thing in the morning you can boost your productivity by 30%. That’s huge.

My background in education has taught me that one of the key elements in helping people mastering anything is to simplify it. Making complex concepts digestible does take some skill. One such thing, I recently I created is what I like to call “The 12 Domains of Productivity.”

  1. Sleep – 7 hours.
    That’s what the science shows the average person needs to operate at an optimum level. Go to bed a little earlier if you have to, cut your Game of Thrones marathon short, do whatever it takes to get close to 7 hours. Your body and mind will thank me.
  2. Breathing.
    Who knew? Breathing has been somewhat of a revelation for me. You can energize or relax yourself simply by doing some breathing exercises. It’s remarkable, what a difference it can make.
  3. Stress.
    Stress is us. It’s an absolute productivity killer. However, without some stress we tend to coast. We must learn how to manage our stress so it helps us, not hinders latter case, we can often trace the cause to one person or situation. If we know what it is, we need to find ways to limit its effect on us.
  4. Focus.
    We live in a world of constant distraction. Each time we jump from one topic to another we lose about 12 minutes. We must learn to focus on a single task for at least 45 minutes without interruption if we really want to get stuff done.
  5. Skillset.
    Looking for a guaranteed boost in your productivity? Get good at what you spend a lot of time doing. If you’re a lawyer, you might want to take a speed-reading class. If you’re a salesperson, practice your sales pitch over and over again. The better you get at something, the easier is becomes and the quicker you can get it done.
  6. Exercise.
    I’ve heard that 20 minutes of somewhat rigorous exercise a day will boost your productivity by 20%. There’s no need to go to the gym, a few yoga poses or some light Karate will do the job. The goal is to get your blood pumping and to do it early on in the day.
  7. Habits.
    We all have certain habits established over years, the question is what are those doing for us. It’s likely we have picked up a few bad habits (I know I sure did) along the way. It takes time to break habits as they act like chains. To remove them, give yourself 30 days. The key isn’t removing the bad habit, but actually replacing it with another, better habit.
  8. Diet.
    I like to say this, “You can only do as well as you feel.” Diet is a major part of our energy level. Too much sugar may give you a boost short term, but you’ll pay for it when you come down. It’s not only your productivity that will improve with a better diet, but also
  9. Hydration.
    Dehydration causes irritability, lack of focus and moodiness. Three things that will wreck your ability to perform at high levels. How much? According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate daily fluid intake is:
    Men: 3.7 liters a day
    Women: 2.7 liters a day
  10. Technology.
    A double-edged sword. Technology has physically freed up from our desks, and expanded our reach no doubt, but it has removed the once natural breaks we had. Today, we have to be “on” 24/7. According to the American Psychological Association 53% of Americans working over the weekend. That’s not a good thing.
  11. Language.
    Learn how to speak well. In my experience, the more accomplished you become, the less you need to say. Each word carries more weight.
  12. Strategies.
    How many time management strategies do you employ on a regular basis? Are you doing them correctly or just think you are?

The question every CEO needs to ask themselves is “How well do I excel in each domain and how can I get better?”


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Adrian Shepherd
Adrian Shepherd started his career as an ESL teacher in Japan, but today focuses on consulting with individuals and companies on productivity. His background in education helped him develop The One-Bite Time Management System (TMS), a revolutionary new system based entirely around simplicity: small bites that people can digest easily. Adrian Shepherd is based in Osaka, Japan.
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