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Five Steps to Become a More Productive Leader

Feb 16, 2016 | Leadership

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Five Steps to Become a More Productive Leader

Your days are flooded with information, from one meeting to another, from emails and social media updates, to multiple “do you have a second” requests, and more meetings. 

People fight for your attention every minute. Some ramble, while others try to be brief and to the point. Add to this the fact that we speak about 150 words per minute, but have the mental capacity to understand around 750 words per minute. 

This phenomenon of thinking about one thing while listening to and engaging in a conversation about another is called the Elusive 600—and it’s always at work. 

While someone is speaking, you have an extra 600 words per minute to think about other things.

Let’s just say that the battle for your attention is ferocious.

How do you stay productive and focused when there is a constant battle for your attention, for every minute of your time?

Five Steps to Be a More Productive Leader

Identify the problem. Start with the end in mind. Ask yourself: What am I trying to solve? Sounds simple, but, believe me, it’s not. Know your “why.” Clarity helps you maintain your focus on the issue at hand and it saves you time and energy. Don’t let yourself be distracted by other tasks, and don’t lose sight of the problem you have yet to solve.  

Have a system in place. Establish a response system for different situations, and to effectively delegate. These are key to solving problems in a timely manner and with less resources. When you have a response system implemented in your organization, even the most difficult situation is handled well.

Set three to five priorities. If you are overwhelmed, you are not going to be productive no matter how hard you try. Instead of trying to solve everything at once, choose a maximum of five priorities for a set period of time and stay focused on solving them. That’s a very effective way to identify what’s really important, rather than urgent on your to-do list.

Get out of the office. Having time off  from work and, especially from email, gives you the opportunity to relax, disconnect, and think. I get my most creative ideas when I am taking a walk in the woods, playing with my kids or simply reading a book. If you can’t take time off, try getting out of the office as often as possible, and by that I don’t mean going to meetings.

Spend time working from a coffee shop, a hotel lobby, or even the park. Working from a different setting than your usual office, gets your mind more aware of its surroundings, it becomes more attentive to external stimulus and you become more creative. Soon you’ll find solutions for issues you couldn’t see a way out.

Block time to think. I block time on my calendar to think, as if I were to have a meeting or an appointment with a client. I am very diligent and protective of this “appointment.”

We tend to give our attention to urgent things, leaving the important, complex ones for later, when we have more time. That’s a mistake.

Book time on your weekly calendar only for yourself, to think, analyze, strategize, and be committed. 

You will notice an increase in your productivity and work efficiency. In time your team will learn to “leave you alone,” be more independent in making decisions and coming to you with problems, they can’t actually solve by themselves.

Now it’s your turn: How do you stay productive? 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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