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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 October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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