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How to Be Productive and Effective: 10 Lessons from Great Leaders

How to Be Productive and Effective: 10 Lessons from Great Leaders

Productivity is not about getting things done. Productivity is, in fact, about getting things done efficiently and effectively. Let’s face it, this can be a challenge. Life is complicated and you often have to face challenges that you didn’t expect. At the same time, you can easily get distracted by little things — or big ones, like friends dropping by, Facebook and other fun things.

So, how can you be productive and get things done in a world of distractions? How can we bring our life and work projects to completion? Learn from some of the greatest leaders of all time and apply it to your life in a way that make sense to you. Here are 10 things you can learn from greatest leaders and how you can apply it to your life too.

1. Think Big

The first step in being productive is having your mind on a completely different level. Once you decide what you want, go after it.  Thinking big is the key to setting goals and achieving them.

So, how you get to do this? Start dreaming… Create great dreams and big goals.

It always seem impossible until is done! – Nelson Mandela

2. One Step at a Time

Now, you have great dreams and an objective. You may be thinking big, but you must also know how to take things slowly. The real work in getting things done is not about dreaming but instead about planning every little step that you are going to take in order to be get there. Learn to take small sure steps rather than taking big uncertain steps. This will help you get things done effectively.

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“Great acts are made up of small deeds.” – Lao Tzu

3. Perseverance

Taking small steps still does not give you the assurance that you will be immediately productive. Sometimes you will meet up against obstacles and you’ll have to figure out how to get around them. Even if you come off your path, you must try to find a way back to it.

I have not failed, I have 10,000 other ways that won’t worl – Thomas Edison

4. Do Not Settle

If you have a big dream, don’t settle for less than that dream. But at the same time, remember to savor the journey to achieving it. Each small event, each small task is a step in getting to your dream. If your dream is to be a big-time singer, you’ll have to sing in a lot of small venues, often for no pay. While this may not be the dream in and of itself, you can savor each of these experiences, enjoy them and learn from them.

Experience is the teacher of all things – Julius Caesar

5. Have a Proper Mindset

This seems to take you back to the first key, but if you will have a proper mindset about the idea of having a proper mindset, you will know that it isn’t. Mindset is not about dreaming but looking at things from different perspectives.

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Set your mind toward your task and you can achieve it. Worrying about failure or other problems will only distract you. Try and keep your eyes on the prize.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right – Henry Ford

6. Change

Sometimes, we have to change in order to pursue our goals. Our own behavior is often counter productive.

Being productive requires flexibility. Obviously, if you are not being productive something is not working and you must change.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. – Winston Churchill

7. Take Risks

When you change, you will be able to take risks and expand your opportunities and achieve the expected results. Life is about taking chances. Opportunities come only once if you don’t take them someone else will.

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Taking risks is not only about business opportunities or related topics it is in fact about productivity. Being curious and taking the risk of doing that extra task to aim for excellence will in fact show you that you can produce more in the same time span. Challenge yourself. This way, you will not have any regrets about not trying to do more. It’s better to fail than to not try at all.

Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. – Jimmy Carter

8. Do Not Just Do Something

You may be taking risks, changing and moving, but movement is a lot different than taking action. Do not just do something in order to get it done. Do not just do stuff, do things that matter and are taking you closer to your goals. Once this act became a habit, it will be difficult to change.

If you are doing just stuff you may want to go back to tip six. You must change it!

Never confuse motion with action – Benjamin Franklin

9. Connect with Your People

To be productive, you must know how to effectively communicate with people. Why? Because there is no man that can do it all. Being an effective communicator allows you to delegate tasks that are not your forte and leverage the strengths of others.

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You must learn to let go, but to get there you must communicate effectively the expected outcomes. Focus on your core competencies. Do what you are suppose to be doing not learning what others can do better.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out. – Ronald Reagan

10. Aim for Excellence

This may be the last on our list, but it is also ranked as a 10. You must consistently aim for excellence make it a habit. It will also influence other people around you.

I must add that the act of excellence does not mean perfection. It means doing the right thing to get the right results. Do the right things in life, for your business, for your family and focus! Take the steps required to produce excellent outcomes.

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. – Steve Jobs

So, there you have it 10 things that great leaders can teach us and how to apply it to your productivity and goals achieving process.

What to do next? Evaluate yourself and not just keep yourself busy, be productive.

Featured photo credit: gothick_matt via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Jorge Gasca

Entrepreneur, Digital Marketing, Project Management, Planning Hacker

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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