Ron Friedman invited 26 bestselling science and productivity writers to share their insights for achieving top performance and identified nine overarching themes that encapsulate their advice for peak work performance. Here’s a summary of the seven that I’ve found the most helpful.

1. Own your time. Block and protect time every day to work on your own projects instead of responding to everybody else’s requests.

2. Recognize busyness as a lack of focus. Despite the rush of feeling needed, busyness blurs our focus and slows progress on the most important work. As one scientist put it: “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.”

3. The ideal worker recognizes physical limitations. Instead of pushing harder and longer, which is ultimately counter-productive, they take time to exercise, sleep, disconnect from email, and they alternate between 90 minute bursts of work and short breaks.

4. Make a habit of stepping back. Insight, problem-solving, and creativity requires time off work and time away from tasks.

5. Help others strategically. We cannot help everybody with everything but we should specialize in one or two forms of helping that we genuinely enjoy and excel at.

6. Have a plan for saying no. Instead of having to stop and think about how to say “No” to requests, create an email template, or write out a script that you can use when doing it in person.

7. Make important behaviors measurable. Track behavior to make progress. This example is way over the top but one well-known executive daily reviews a 40-item spreadsheet consisting of every important behavior he hopes to achieve. Among the items: the number of words he wrote, the distance he walked, and the number of nice things he said to his wife, daughter, and grandchildren.

You can read the whole article here.