If you’re waiting for circumstances or other people around you to “make you” be productive, you’ll be waiting a long time. Productivity comes from you, inside out. As a coach, I have worked with many leaders helping them instil the habits that them more productive each and every day. Here are five of my top productivity tips every leader must master:
Know what you want
Instead of waking up and seeing what happens, productive people start the day with a clear picture of what’s important to them and what they want to accomplish. In other words they ‘set’ their Reticular Activating System (RAS). They may clarify this the evening before or in the morning at the start of their workday. However, they never jump into work without knowing what’s most essential and what outcomes they want to achieve.
Knowing what they want gives productive people the focus to get key activities done between major events in their schedule instead of filling gaps in their days with work chats, emailing, or low-priority tasks. Further, being aware of their wants helps these productive people feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day that they have completed the work that matters most.
Productive people don’t ask for permission to focus on their priorities, they just begin. That could look doing their key work before looking at emails. That could look like doing others-centred requests only in the afternoon. That could look like checking email periodically throughout the day, or only between times when they’re focusing exclusively on more keu projects.
In all of these scenarios, productive people believe their own work is of value and don’t feel a need to wait until everyone else is taken care of, since they take time to invest in their own projects.
Though it may seem obvious: When you’re tired, it can be that much harder to get and stay motivated, especially when your work is challenging. Research continuously shows that sufficient sleep can have a substantial impact on productivity and performance.
In recognition of the importance of sleep, productive people know when they need to go to bed, and when they need to get up, for a restful night’s sleep. Further, they don’t allow their phone or other electronics to steal their sleep time and often establish a set time to unplug.
To perform at your highest level, you need to take regular, intentional breaks to recharge. When you’re doing high-intensity, focused work, you’re using up your cognitive resources. And when you take a restorative break, such as by moving around, allowing your mind to drift off, or chatting with others, you are recharging those resources.
These intentional breaks can help you be more productive, restore your motivation, and help you make better decisions and reach more creative results. Taking purposeful breaks will give you the energy to stay productive throughout your workday and week.
Even extremely productive people can’t do everything, so they realise that to get done what they want to do they need to say no to many requests that come their way. That could look like declining certain meetings directly. Or it could mean taking a softer approach, like shutting off their phones at a certain time of day so that they don’t see or answer messages until the next day. In order to get the most done, productive people aren’t afraid to decline, defer, or delegate any items that aren’t aligned with their priorities.