Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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How can YOU make Productivity Simple?

Why are some people consistently more productive than others? Many high-achieving people claim their success is due to routines that manage their time and ensure productivity. Constructive habits help us achieve daily as well as strategic goals.

I am going to share a secret with you that I use and helps me be more productive everyday:

Productivity Made Simple Cheat Sheet

#1 Avoid multitasking.
It can take more than 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted. If you do that a couple of times a day, that’s 2-3 hours you’ll never get back. Distractions actively limit your ability to focus, and without deep focus, you can’t be productive.

#2 Know how you spend your time.
One of the first things you should do when deliberately working to be more productive is auditing where your time is spent. This is often an eye-opener.  We rarely notice where our time goes – particularly on areas that offer no value to our life, like watching endless reruns of your favorite TV show, surfing the internet, or watching cat videos. For a full week, account for your time in 15-minute increments and be 100% honest Do this a for a full week to find areas to become more efficient.

#3 Use the general’s method.
Use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize what to focus on. Divide your task ups into the 4 quadrants:

  1. Urgent and important are tasks you need to do immediately
  2. Important, but not urgent are tasks you can do later
  3. Urgent, but not important are tasks to outsource or delegate to someone else
  4. Neither urgent nor important are tasks that you do not need to do so you can eliminate them

Focus on the tasks in quadrant one daily to maintain the strongest productivity level.






#4 Create moat-dragons.
Control interruptions and distractions by building in “protectors” in advance. These can be tech-related, like putting on your out of office, turning off notifications on your phone (I always have the sound off on my phone) or using website blockers. Making your schedule visible to your team lets them know your availability.

#5 Apply Pareto
Use the Pareto Principle when you’re confused about what to focus on. To do this, you need to think about your typical day and the highest yielding tasks. The activities that you know produce most of the results that you want to contribute is where you focus your time.

#6 Stop procrastination by setting a timer.
To narrow your focus on a task, use the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer against a task for a specific amount of time (Pomodoro routinely uses 25 minutes) and work until the timer alarm sounds. Break for 5 minutes, and repeat.

#7 Specialize and delegate.
We cannot be good at everything.  Figure out what takes up your time that can be done better by someone else, or at a lower opportunity cost.  I recommend that those in a managerial or leadership role utilize some kind of virtual assistant service, a virtual assistant (part-time or full-time), or an online service such as Upwork or Fiverr.  Spending 2 hours creating a flyer, editing videos, managing social media or inputting data can be outsourced to people who specialize in those areas.  Make a list of everything you absolutely do not need to do, and find effective ways to delegate those tasks.

#8 Guard your sleep
To maintain productivity levels, protect your sleep.  Strive to get enough sleep to be rested every night.  Ideally conduct a sleep inventory.  Find out what caused you to either not sleep well or needed more time to sleep.  Simple things like sleeping in a dark  room and turning off electronics can make a big difference.

#9 Create agendas and action steps for meetings
If you have to take a meeting, make sure it’s an effective one by having an agenda of items to discuss.  Every meeting should provide information or discussion that cannot happen via other means, and should include assigned action items and deadlines.  Send out the agenda again AFTER the meeting by listing who is responsible for the action items.

#10 Design your workspace to inspire productivity
Your workspace can either help or hinder your productivity systems.  Do you know where everything is?  Can you easily find what you need?  Create a productive space to work. Use greenery, inspiration messages, and colors to create a place of work you like.

My office is decorated by two dog beds and my canine office managers.

Commit to five minutes at the end of every day to put things away, file papers, and clean up for the next day.  Once a week, spend 15 minutes decluttering.  Throw out papers, well-intentioned projects you are never going to do, and filing what cannot be thrown away.



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