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16 Productivity Hacks For Leaders

16 Productivity Hacks For Leaders

Productivity is a skill you have to develop over time, especially for self-made leaders. When you are in charge of running a business, time is your most valued asset. And the one that slips through your fingers the most. By using the following 16 productivity hacks you will learn how to work more effective rather than efficient and create a less busy work routine for yourself.

1. Drop the 9-to-5 Schedule

It’s no longer news that the traditional 9-to-5 workday is not the optimal productivity time span. Depending on your personality type, habits, and lifestyle you might prefer to work from 6 a.m. till lunch or pop in after noon and be the last one to leave. Do the most challenging tasks during your most productive hours and schedule meetings and routine tasks for that time of the day when you start feeling low.

A quick reminder: Don’t be the first to come and the last to leave. In the long run, this practice will ruin productivity and your personal life as your brain will never have a chance to fully recharge. You can’t be a great leader if you can’t properly take care of yourself.

2. Know Your Priorities

Either you learn to prioritize like it’s nobody’s business, or you are doomed. The essential activities that will move your business forward should always be tackled first, even if they are the hardest to crack. Placing effectiveness over efficiency should be your daily mantra. You can never complete everything, yet you can finish the tasks that will move your vision and your company forward.

Here’s an excellent tip from a Pentagon general: “First I make a list of priorities: one, two, three, and so on. Then I cross out everything from three down.”

Multitasking is often deemed to be a good skill, except that it’s not. Numerous tests have proved: chronicle multitaskers in the long run perform worse on the tasks, compared to those handling one problem at a time. Rather than switching between tasks from minute to minute, dedicate a 20-minute chunk of time to a single task, and then switch to the next one. It’s called the Pomodoro technique and you’ll feel your productivity increase from day one.

3. Embrace Power Naps

Your brain needs to reboot after long hours of work. According to scientists, if you need a quick boost of alertness, nap for 10 to 20 minutes; for cognitive memory processing, a 60-minute nap would suit best and a 90-minute nap will involve a full cycle of sleep, which boosts creativity, and emotional and procedural memory. These days there are a lot of smart personal comfort technologies to help you sleep comfortably and even gently wake up you at the right time.

4. Hire the Best Talent

As Joshua Conran, senior partner at Deksia, puts it, “I’ve learned to hire people who are better at specific things than I am. I actively work to ensure I’m the dumbest person in the room. As I do this, I become less needed on a day-to-day basis to complete projects, and the company’s talent actually accomplishes more than I ever could.”

As a leader, make sure you spend time acquiring and keeping the best people in your company, rather than micro-managing and struggling to handle everything on your own.

5. Do Not Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning

Spare that time for more creative tasks, rather than being sucked into hours of back and forth replies. A lot of successful CEOs already reduce their time on handling emails to one to two days per week. You’ll be surprised to know that a lot of people in your company can actually handle their problems without you being involved.

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6. Listen to Yourself

Choose those types of productivity tools that help you most. If you react better to constant reminders from your phone or desktop pop-ups — install some handy apps! If you like to write down things and physically tick them off, buy a big planner and a fancy pen. Don’t follow trends, self-reflect and use what suits you most.

7. Set “Airplane Days”

Did you ever notice that you could accomplish more goals while being totally disconnected from the world on a long flight? Well, you don’t need to fly anywhere; you can create the same environment at home or at your office. On “Airplane Days” block out the time on your shared calendar, switch off your phone and network connection, eliminate all other distractions, and focus on dealing with the top three high-priority tasks from your list.

8. Clean Up Your Facebook

No matter how hard you try, you still peak at your Facebook once in a while. To limit the time spent at the social network Roman Grigorjev suggests moving everyone from “friends” to “acquaintances.” This way you’ll see only two to five of the most important posts per day instead of hundreds of cat pictures and personal musing statuses.

9. Use the 2-Minute Rule

If it takes less than two minutes to finish the task do it right now. Yes, as simple as that, but believe me this small habit can drastically increase your productivity if you use it.

10. Don’t Waste Desk Time

Read and reply emails on the go, and save interesting articles you’ve found to Pocket app to catch up on them later. Your desk is the place where you should solely focus on work and nothing else.

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11. Support Your Team

As a leader you should focus on encouraging others to cross things off of their lists just as you do. The more inspired and motivated your team is the more goals you can accomplish at once. If you can help others achieve their daily tasks and overachieve goals, you’ll be able to lead the whole company towards higher productivity.

12. Eat That Frog First

Not literally of course. Start your day with working on the activity you dread most (frog), yet the one that currently stands between you and the next giant step toward success!

13. Always Have the Decision Matrix at Hand

impact-grid

    Going back to prioritizing, if you have a lot of urgent things at hand or a small crisis going around, use this simple, yet highly effective decision-making matrix.

    Everything that is easy to do and will have a big impact should be labeled as a “do it now” priority. Smaller impact and easy-to-do items should be delegated. The big impact and hard-to-do items get put into the mix for prioritization against other initiatives.

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    14. Learn to Say No

    You are often invited to multiple conferences, meetings, and speaking engagements. Learn to refuse the invitations; you will never have time to focus on what’s truly important while trying to chase some possible opportunities out there, even if they seem fun, useful, or interesting. Networking should be limited to a necessary amount. For instance, commit to attending two conferences per year, one to two meetups per month, and so on.

    15. Schedule Appointments With Yourself

    You have dozens of meetings on your calendar, but when was the last time you have specifically blocked a few hours to sit down in peace, gather your thoughts, and go through critical things you want to get done?

    16. Try Voice Recognition Software

    I presume you still type slower than you speak, so using Siri to type messages for you on your iPhone will save you a lot of time. Use Dragon Dictation to type all sort of memos, emails, and other papers for you or Evernote Premium that now has the same feature. This will save you at least one hour a day.

    Featured photo credit: Nana B Agyei via flickr.com

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    Elena Prokopets

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

    You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

    Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

    When you train your brain, you will:

    • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
    • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
    • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

    So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

    1. Work your memory

    Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

    When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

    If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

    The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

    Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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    Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

    What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

    For example, say you just met someone new:

    “Hi, my name is George”

    Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

    Got it? Good.

    2. Do something different repeatedly

    By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

    Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

    It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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    And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

    But how does this apply to your life right now?

    Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

    Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

    Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

    So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

    You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

    That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

    3. Learn something new

    It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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    For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

    Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

    You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

    4. Follow a brain training program

    The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

    5. Work your body

    You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

    Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

    Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

    Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

    6. Spend time with your loved ones

    If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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    If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

    I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

    7. Avoid crossword puzzles

    Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

    Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

    Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

    8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

    Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

    When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

    So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

    The bottom line

    Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

    Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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