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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 11, 2019

    Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

    Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

    How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

    Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

    To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

    Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

    Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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    • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
    • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
    • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
    • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

    Benefits of Using a To-Do List

    However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

    • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
    • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
    • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
    • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
    • You feel more organized.
    • It helps you with planning.

    4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

    Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

    1. Categorize

    Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

    It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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    2. Add Estimations

    You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

    Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

    Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

    3. Prioritize

    To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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    • Important and urgent
    • Not urgent but important
    • Not important but urgent
    • Not important or urgent

    You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

    Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

    4.  Review

    To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

    For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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    Bottom Line

    So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

    To your success!

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    Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

    Reference

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