9 Things Highly Productive Leaders Do
Everyone has the same number of hours in a day. How you choose to use them will impact your output and results. With automation and the new ways of working, we have the potential to work a lot smarter, but are we taking advantage of this?
Leadership is an evolving role, the responsibilities you signed up for on day 1 will evolve over time as you grow into your role. There are varying tasks and projects that hit our environments, some things will remain consistent and we can apply our previous approach and get the work done quicker, but other things will be new and we’ll need to think and evaluate the best approach. Here are some ideas to help you work smarter, get more done, and have a more meaningful impact.
9 Things Highly Productive Leaders Do
1) 80/20 Rule - when you evaluate your goals or to-do list every morning, identify the 2 or 3 important items. Think of the 80/20 rule, what 20% of your effort is going to account for 80% of your results? Identifying and focusing on the important items and getting those completed first will have a profound impact on your effectiveness.
2) Next Steps - set yourself up for success. Line up the next steps or your goals for the day, the day before. So as soon as you hit your desk in the morning you have your next steps lined up and will hit the ground running. Rather than procrastinating and thinking “what should I do today?” Start your day with a plan.
3) Flow State - I am sure there are people which will disagree but multi-tasking is really a myth. If you want to be highly productive with your time, do one thing at a time. If you can immerse yourself in the important task with no distractions, you will enter what’s called a Flow State where productivity will accelerate, because you are now in the zone and committing 100% of your energy and creativity to this one important task, rather than bouncing around different tasks.
4) Parkinson’s Law - is the old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted. “Humans expand to fill the responsibility given". If you give yourself 2 weeks to complete a task, it will take you 2 weeks. If you give yourself a day to complete a task, it will take a day, within reason. Give yourself a self timeline and deadline, and get the task completed.
5) Important Work - Stephen Covey illustrated the idea of Urgent Work vs Important Work in his Time Management Matrix. Important Work is about nurturing a positive environment where your team can flourish, empowering them to make decisions and share ideas, planning for turbulence ahead, and ensuring your team prosper. Then there is Urgent Work which is generally more stressful and is focused on repairing the damage as quickly as possible. Naturally, we’re all going to see Urgent Work within our roles, but identifying the causes for the Urgent Work and carrying out mitigation steps to avoid it happening in the future is actually time-saving Important Work.
6) Avoid Perfection - if you're applying for a new role or delivering a presentation to your exec team, then perfection may be the way to go. But 90% of the time shooting for perfection is slowing you down and you may unintentionally be using it to avoid other challenging tasks. Finding the balance between Quantity and Quality is really important, the ratio will differ each time.
Sometimes things don’t need to be perfect, good enough also gets the job done. You need to have balance and evaluate when you should commit extra time to something and when you hit the point of Diminishing Returns.
7) ZERO Inbox - a lot of your work comes from one channel, your Inbox. So having an effective process for managing it will save you a lot of time. It also takes far less energy and effort to maintain your inbox at zero than it will at 1000. Try adopting a better strategy for managing incoming emails.
Archive - move any emails from your inbox to a subfolder that have been dealt with and do not require any further action.
Delete - anything unrelated to work/marketing/notifications that you can find in another system or you will never need to refer to, get those deleted.
Unsubscribe - you probably have a few marketing, sales and even internal email lists you are subscribed to but have never read or looked at. Unsubscribe to those.
Boomerang - use this tool here. This will send the email away from your inbox for a set period of time and bring it back when you need it. Useful if someone says they’ll come back to you or you want to keep an eye on responses, or you need to follow up in a month’s time for example.
Reply - reply to the email if you can deal with the email within 2-5 mins or leave it in your inbox if it needs to be actioned today. Once dealt with, either archive or boomerang.
Actionable - if the email will require a deeper level of thought or action, add it to your to-do list or calendar, in the meantime, hit boomerang on the email so it keeps your inbox clean and returns later for you to reply to if needed.
8) Data - effective Leaders use data to drive decision-making with a human approach. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you can use reporting and data to evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Good data can tell you exactly where you need to focus your efforts and attention. The human approach is reviewing the data from an outside perspective and asking the question, “The data says X but that doesn’t feel like it’s the right call, do we need to be more human about this?”
9) Rest - effective leaders rest. You need time away from your day-to-day to re-charge and reset. Reducing the noise and temperature of your mind with quiet time does wonders for your own mental health. Not only is it good for your well-being but you return to your day-to-day with more clarity, empathy, and a renewed sense of energy. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.
Hope these adjustments will serve you well and I am sure even if you only adopt a few, you’ll definitely be more productive and have a bigger impact on your environment.
All the best
Resources Of The Week
Productivity Tool - try Focus Keeper/Pomodoro Timer to keep you on track and to manage your time better. This is a simple app available on iPhone and Android or you can Google “count down timer”. You are essentially committing 100% focus to getting your single task done in 25 mins. It works because you are working with time rather than against it.
Ted Talk - How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals by Stephen Duneier. Inspiring talk from Stephen about how he breaks down his goals and approaches them in small bite-size pieces. The impact the small decisions have on all of us and how they increase the probability in our favour is eye-opening.
You Tube - Ralph Smart - Self-Esteem. Struggle with self-esteem and how you see yourself? Watch this video to see how it starts with accepting yourself.
Quote of the Week
"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning." - Winston Churchill
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