Working your way toward sustained success.
You were not born productive or with a manual filled with productivity tips for leaders. If anything, most of us spent the better part of our youths being the opposite. Productivity is learned and if it’s a skill that you haven’t quite mastered yet, it’s not a hopeless ideal!
There are some essential things you can do to be more productive in your day to day and as a leader, modeling the kind of attitude and behavior that you’ll no doubt want to see in your team.
After all, the old saying: “Time is money” has a ring of truth to it, doesn’t it? Wasting time ultimately wastes money, along with other resources along the way, so eliminating as much waste as you can is essential.
Have clear goals
This can’t be overstated: if you don’t have a clear vision as to what the end goal is, you will not be able to find a productive path to get there. Once your vision is clear, you can establish the tasks that need to be taken to achieve said goal.
It might seem redundant to say that you need to prioritize your tasks, in addition to knowing your end goal, but it bears repeating. Team members and leaders alike can end up dithering and flailing around in a multi-tasking quagmire, and ultimately not being very productive, if they aren’t sure where to begin.
Don’t forget, too, that short term (weekly/daily) goal planning is just as important: it will help you with prioritizing the tasks at hand.
In line with clear goals is the ability to refuse tasks. You have to say no sometimes. If you are constantly taking on meetings, speaking engagements and in general tasks that aren’t related to the goals you’ve set out, your productivity will get bogged down from going in too many directions at once.
Productivity isn’t about time in the chair
Most leaders who have understood the principles of effective team management have long gone past the point where they equate time in the chair with productivity, in evaluating their team members.
The same applies to you, as a leader. Being the first into the office and the last to leave does not make you productive and it doesn’t really serve to show your team members an effective method to achieve productivity.
A good way to maximize your time is to block off time where you can’t be reached. Notifiers can become the ultimate distraction. Turn the phone to ‘do not disturb’, block the time on your calendar for everyone else to see… disconnect. As a leader, you can’t get away with it everyday, but once in awhile, it’s a great way to get on top of a runaway list of tasks.
Are you more productive in the early morning? Late at night? Right around noon? Do you think better after a workout? Make sure you block off time in your schedule during those productive times, so that you can get the work done that requires a lot of intensive thinking.
Schedule the more routine tasks—like answering emails—for when you’re at a lower point on your productivity scale. A lot of people find that to be middle of the afternoon but to each their own!
TIP: Many high level executives avoid email first thing in the morning. You can get really bogged down in the details of things that you actually don’t even need to be involved in, losing out on what is a highly productive time for most people.
Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it: slogging through tasks when you’re overtired and undernourished isn’t going to result in good work. This too is a good behavior to model for your team members: if you feel okay taking a break now and again, they will be too.
Choose the tools—and team—that work for you
Some people swear by their phone calendars or apps designed to remind you about everything. Others like to kick it old school and rely on pen and paper (hint: I’m more the latter!) Use what tools work for you, not what’s ‘in’ or ‘trending’!
Having the right team is a major factor in personal productivity as a leader. It’s not about having people who can run with the job without even talking to you: it’s about trust. If you know they can get something done, you will feel comfortable relinquishing the task to them, instead of micromanaging it and losing out on productivity. It’s a win-win too because a team member who feels nurtured but not hovered over will respond with outstanding effort.
Confront the task you hate the most first
Getting rid of the most daunting task first sets the tone for the rest of your day. You can envision it being smoother and more productive if you get rid of the one thing that’s been bugging you or dragging on for a while. A lot about being productive is about mindset. Free your mind from something that was getting between you and creativity and you will see your productivity levels skyrocket!
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