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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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    Last Updated on May 23, 2019

    Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

    Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony

    How do you usually go about your day?

    Do you wake up in the morning, get ready for work, and then spend the whole day looking forward to being at home and unwinding?

    We often hear about work life balance – having a good balance between work and personal time. Whilst this may sound like a smart idea, it can also imply that we should dedicate at least half of our time to work–and sacrifice time for our “personal life”.

    To me, that seems…off balance. Because, the truth is, it’s nearly impossible to split your time equally between the two. And, you may end up stressing out if you’re not able to meet that expectation of balance.

    Instead, why not think of having work life harmony instead?

    With this mindset, you can actually integrate work into your life in a way that feels more complete. This way, you don’t need to view work and having personal time as separate.

    So, how do you achieve work life harmony?

    Work Life Harmony Explained

    The difference between work life balance and work life harmony is pretty simple. With the former, there is an implication that you have to sacrifice your “life” for work. But, this is the worst way to go about things! How can you truly be at peace in life if you dread 8 hours of your day?

    Work life harmony on the other hand, allows your work to be a part of your life. This means that you can choose to be happy both at home, and at work! Work no longer needs to be seen as the ‘bad’ or un-fun activity.

    Having work life harmony also ensures you’re truly present in whatever place you find yourself.

    Just take a look at Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon for example.

    He uses a non traditional approach to work by making time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and still puts aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.

    He believes that all his staff should stop trying to achieve a ‘balance’ in their work and personal lives as that implies a trade off. Instead, he envisions a more holistic relationship between the two.

    As the world’s richest man, he must be doing something right!

    Rethink Time Management

    Now, when we think of striking a balance, we usually associate it with time, don’t we? How much time are we spending at work versus how much time are we spending in our personal lives?Are we taking enough time to be with our loved ones, to do meaningful activities with others or even for ourselves, or are we just dedicating all our time to work?

    This is the so-called-balance that many struggle with.

    With work life harmony, we learn to rethink time management. By re-assessing how you manage your time, you’ll have a lot more of it. It’s incredible how much time can get wasted over the period of a day–especially when you’re not accurately tracking it.

    Unfortunately, unless you’re consciously making an effort, your brain is not always the best at making accurate judgement calls when it comes to prioritizing. It tends to have a bias towards short term benefits and short term costs.

    As there are often many more options our brains link to short term benefit; when you’re trying to focus on a task that gives you a long term benefit, that task usually becomes low priority. This is otherwise known as Priority Chaos.

    In order to overcome this and be in better control of your time, identify the tasks that need the most focus to get accomplished. If it’s a big task, then it’s good to break it down into smaller bite-sized actions that will provide you with a clearer short term benefit.

    When setting up tasks, give yourself a time limit. The brain has a bias towards short term benefits, and your attention span is limited, so if your tasks are going to take ages to complete, you’ll end up losing focus… and wasting time.

    Once you have all your tasks written down, it’s time to prioritize them. Since you have a time limit, your focus should be on the top priority tasks. By doing this, you will already be able to get more done in less time at work!

    Have Passion for What You Do

    Managing your time is important in achieving that work life harmony. But, perhaps of greater importance, is loving what you do in life. One of the most effective ways to achieve a work life harmony is to really enjoy, or find a purpose, in what you do for a living. Even though everyone isn’t always lucky enough to find a position that pays them for pursuing their passion, you can strive to find meaning in what you are already doing, or pursue something new entirely!

    For example, say you work at an office that sells paper. While many people wouldn’t consider this a world changing pursuit, I beg to differ. Think of all the individuals in the world that rely on paper. From creative types to quantum physics experts, your role at your workplace brings incredible value to many many people all over the world. You will have, without a doubt, helped bring a new idea into existence. Several new ideas to be precise.

    So have a think about what you’re doing now. Is it something that allows you to embrace your passion?

    Or perhaps you might not even know what it is that you love or enjoy doing. Why not explore and reflect on what gives you joy and contentment? Is there an area or industry that you could see yourself exploring to experience that fulfillment?

    Can you find a deeper purpose in what you’re already doing?

    When you’re able to find meaning in your work, you’re that much closer to achieving work life harmony.

    Don’t Be Intimidated By Obstacles and Limitations

    Creating work life harmony is also about understanding yourself–which includes your limitations and past obstacles–as this allows you to become more resilient.

    If you never had to experience struggles, challenges or setbacks, then you would never be forced to adapt and mature. So in theory, having to face obstacles in life is actually quite necessary.

    Most of us think of setbacks and obstacles as negative. Though, if you’re able to maintain an optimistic attitude, you’ll almost always have a higher chance of success of overcoming those obstacles to reach your eventual goal.

    Your attitude towards setbacks will define the outcome of whether you rise from the challenge or remain stuck in it. So, in order to achieve work life harmony, it’s important to have a resilient attitude as challenges will always come your way–especially when you strive to integrate work into your life, and not a separate or dominant part of life.

    Delegate When You Need To

    Of course, when you want to increase productivity and minimize the time or effort spent, a great way to do so is to delegate!

    If you spend a lot of time doing tasks on your own that could be delegated to others (whether at work or at home) you’re losing a lot of precious free time that could otherwise be spent elsewhere.

    At the end of the day, we all have a limited amount of time. So we should all be striving to create a harmonious work and living situation where we can find meaning in all that we do.

    While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones or tasks needed to get there may be meaningful. That’s because we have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Not every task is going to be enjoyable or easy to complete. That’s where delegation comes in.

    Delegation simply allows you to leverage time from an external source, thus giving you opportunities to increase your own quality of time. Keep in mind that delegation should be done with deliberate attention, otherwise you may end up over relying on others.

    If you find that you’re running into the problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

    Embrace the Circle and Become Happier and More Productive

    Living in harmony is about feeling good about the ways in which you spend your time, despite how busy you may be.Your switch from work mode to a more personal mode should be effortless. It’s about integrating your personal life and the things you love into your busy work life!

    It all begins with the shift in perspective. Understanding what your passions are, and learning to be resilient, before taking a different approach to the way you manage your time and everyday tasks.

    These are steps that you can start taking to move away from balance to harmony. 

    Featured photo credit: Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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