Do you consider yourself an overachiever? If so, you might be the perfect candidate for Lifehack Bootcamp, an elite program geared towards teaching eager professionals the recipes to maximize their energy, time, and results.
Started by self-proclaimed overachievers Demir and Carey Bentley, the program totes the tagline “The Future of Productivity is Here.” Once in the bootcamp, you can learn various productivity techniques, including time mastery and how to design the life you really want.
We were curious on how a couple who spends most of their time teaching other people how to be productive stay productive themselves. So in this special edition of the #ProductivityGiants series, we sat down with this pioneering pair and learned things like the worst advice they’ve ever heard and why planning your week out is an absolute MUST.
What does the first 90 minutes of your day look like?
We only work from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm every day, so we have to be up by 5:00 am each morning. We don’t believe in elaborate morning routines. We start our day with a simple gratitude practice, where we tell each other 3 things we’re most grateful for. Then it’s shower and coffee. We have a clear deadline at 1:00pm when our cook puts a family-style meal on the table! So that creates positive pressure for us to get up early and stay focused straight through to 1:00pm.
What’s your number one productivity/time-saving tip?
Take an hour to pre-plan your week in advance. This is something that 99% of average people don’t do. And yet – we’ve found that nearly ALL of the top performers do it. Pre-planning is so incredible because the most powerful concepts and tools in the productivity world can only be leveraged AHEAD of time.
Take optimizing your calendar as a simple example: The further in advance that you reschedule appointments, the more options you have. And you suffer no consequences. By contrast, when you get to the day of your appointments, it’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to reschedule without taking a hit. This one simple practice is game-changing if you do it right.
Any favorite tools?
Asana is our lifeline. It’s replaced meetings and internal emailing entirely. We also use it as a CRM. We use Zoom multiple times a day to record screencasts, meet with clients, and record new trainings. We also love Streak, which is a Gmail plugin for sales emails. We have Facebook News Feed Eradicator installed on our laptops, which blocks our Facebook news feed and replaces it with a fun “get it done!” quotes from leaders like Yoda and Beyonce.
Do you have a pre-bed/nightly routine?
Not really. We don’t use technology (anything with a screen) for the last half hour before bed because the blue light affects your sleep and ability to truly relax. We also keep our phones out of the bedroom so that it’s not the first thing we pick up in the morning. These practices have made it much easier to read books and listen to meditations in the evening.
How often do you check your inbox?
Rarely. We get a lot of emails and it would suck up our entire day if we let it. So instead, we have a system where one of our VA’s processes most of our email. Then we’ll go in every two days or so to respond to urgent requests.
#1 Email tip?
People don’t read emails longer than 5 sentences. Start writing emails that are 5 sentences or less and you’ll start getting better, faster responses. (You’ll also save all that time you were spending typing out long emails that no one is reading thoroughly).
Favorite SaneBox feature?
Snooze! The worst part about email (in general) is that it just keeps coming at you wave after wave. Being able to snooze an email gives you the ability to deal with things at the appropriate time, without losing track of it altogether.
What’s the biggest hindrance to your productivity? How do you combat it?
Without a doubt, our greatest hindrance to productivity is OURSELVES. And that goes for most of us. We have systems and disciplines that work… when we work them! But like any human being, we can get rebellious – even rebelling against disciplines we put in place ourselves. Ironic, right? That why it’s so important to have a strong mental game as a part of your productivity workflow. Without a strong mental game, it’s impossible to get back on the wagon.
When you lose focus, what do you do to regain it?
Focus is like a muscle – it can get strong, or it can get weak and flabby. These days, it’s easy to lose focus because distractions come at you from everywhere (and it’s easy to distract yourself!). So we’re hyper-aware of our environment and how it triggers us into focus or into distraction.
When we do lose focus, it’s usually because we don’t have CLARITY on what our #1 priority is. When that happens, we ask ourselves – “What’s our #1 priority this month? What’s our #1 priority this week? Is this truly the activity that drives our business forward the most, above everything else?” We also ask “what’s our reward going to be for getting this priority done?” Dangling a carrot at the finish line is highly effective in getting your brain to do what you want it to.
What have you learned from your failures?
After a massively successful career in Wall Street, Demir’s first startup company went under. He was in debt, unemployed, and diagnosed with a severe stress-related illness. This failure taught him an important lesson: he failed because his life wasn’t sustainable. He was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul – in his finances, with the company, with his health. He hated how insane his life had become, but he said “If I can just get through this, it’ll be better next month. Or next year…” But when he hit bottom, he learned a fundamental truth: the person who loves their life is always going to outperform the person who is barely getting by!
What bad advice do you hear often?
“If you’re not achieving your goals, you’re not hustling hard enough.” This kind of sentiment is why we have record levels of stress, burnout and overwhelm in the workforce today. The “hustle culture” makes you think that hustling is the only way to become successful, when that couldn’t be more wrong! When we finally rejected our 80-hour workweeks and decided to work 30 hours or less per week, it transformed our lives AND our results. We grew our business faster AND had all the free time we wanted to travel and spend time with family.
What book has changed your life and why?
This one is easy: “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. This is our productivity Bible. We’ve probably re-read this on Kindle or Audible about 15 times. This book is like an onion: every time you read it, you peel back a new layer and learn something you didn’t catch before. Our approach with books is we would rather re-read a life-changing book 100 times than keep over-consuming new (often conflicting) ideas. That way, the concepts become part of you, truly integrated into your psyche.
Of course, we love other books as well! Check out our top 7 time management book summaries here (https://pages.lifehackbootcamp.com/booksummary-j)
The most worthwhile investment in time, money, or energy that you’ve made?
Hiring a business coach. We’re stubborn, so we put this off for a long time. But everyone needs a coach – in fact you’ll never find a top performer who doesn’t have one or more coaches in their corner. When we did finally get a coach, it broke us through levels we didn’t even know were there. It also provided us with the accountability we needed to transform our business.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to our readers?
Time is incredibly scarce, and extremely valuable. Most people don’t value their time highly enough! After all, we only have one life, right? The minutes and hours that make up your life are your only non-renewable resources. Therefore, more carefully you measure, allocate, and control your time, the more productive you are – and the better decisions you’ll make about where to spend your precious time.
What’s your definition of productivity?
Normal productivity is boring to us. Input vs output. Bleh. We’re interested in HYPER-productivity. How does an entrepreneur or business owner fit 140 hours of productivity into a 40 hour week? How can you build a 10 person team that hits like a 50 person team?
We help our clients use technology, systems, and delegation to do just that. So our definition of hyper-productivity is leveraging amplification, systems automation, and peak performance mindsets to break through the limits of mainstream productivity.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Being introduced to the concept of “Extreme Ownership”, which is the belief that “I am in control of everything in my world, and I am the source of every result, good or bad”. This belief is radical because it puts everything back on you. Fighting with your husband… how did you contribute that conflict? Not being promoted at work… how can you become so good they can’t ignore you? Your #1 enemy in life is usually you. Practicing extreme ownership helps you recognize that. It instantly defeats victim thinking and gets you in control of every situation.
What have you become better at saying no to?
We believe in a “time scarcity” mindset. Which means that that you only have 168 hours each week. But when it comes to work, probably just 10 hours out of your 40 hour week is allocated to “Deep Work” — or work that really matters! That’s a terrible truth that we don’t like to face. But when you face the truth of “time scarcity” – it becomes so EASY to say no to things that don’t really move the ball forward. So we’ve flipped it: It’s not about what we say “No” to… that’s about 90% of inbound requests. It’s about the very few things we say “yes” to.