Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

3 Ways to Finally Take Action to Improve Your Productivity

Carey Rome - Leadership expertAs a CEO, you’re your team’s coach, quarterback, linebacker, and defensive end. Even when there are 20 seconds left in the game and you’re a touchdown short of a win, you’ve got to keep a cool head. In the world of business, it’s your job to direct plays, execute them, and fend off the opposing team.

This is no small responsibility. You’ve got to make the most of every second. When it’s time to prepare for a meeting with an all-important client, you’ve got to take the lead to score that all-important touchdown. If you want to win, you’ll have to organize, prioritize, and act to improve your productivity.

Think of yourself as a player and as a coach in the game of business. Your productivity is paramount to achieve the results you want, and studies link leadership and organizational culture directly to employee satisfaction and performance. Take action to work smarter, and you’ll set the standard for your entire team.

Set the Standard for Efficiency and Productivity

Successful people don’t have more time than everyone else — they just make better use of it. They understand where they’re going, prioritize how to get there, and make the time to make it happen. Take these steps to maximize your productivity, and you’ll set the example for your employees:

  1. Set the alarm earlier.

Morning people — defined loosely as those who get up around the same time on weekends and weekdays — generally excel at anticipating and minimizing problems. They also tend to be happier and healthier. As if that weren’t enough motivation to stop hitting snooze, early risers have more time to knock out exercise and personal tasks before they get to the office, allowing for maximum productivity from the get-go.

Here’s my typical morning schedule:

  •      4:45 a.m.: Wake up.
  •      4:45-5:30 a.m.: Drink coffee while I listen to an audiobook.
  •      5:30-6 a.m.: Make a list of my priorities for the day and how I will deal with personal items outside of work hours.
  •      6-6:45 a.m.: Work out.
  •      6:45-7:10 a.m.: Eat breakfast.
  •      7:10-7:35 a.m.: Shower and get ready.
  •      7:50 a.m.: Arrive at the office and start my day.

By the time I arrive at the office, I’m ready to go. Because I’ve already taken care of exercise, organization, and personal issues, I’m ready to hit the ground running the minute I walk in the door.

  1. Practice your penmanship.

Writing out your goals alone won’t make you more productive, but the exercise triggers focus, which generates productivity. It helps you clarify what you want, determine what actions you need to get there, and motivate yourself to take those steps.

Consider this telling analysis of the 1979 Harvard MBA program. Graduate students were asked about their future goals — specifically, whether they had set them, written them down, and made plans to accomplish them. Ten years later, the same group was interviewed again. Those who had unwritten goals were making twice the amount of those who had no goals. The 3 percent of students who had written goals were earning a whopping 10 times more than the other 97 percent of students combined.

As a leader, knowing your own goals helps you encourage employees to set and meet their own. My friend Scott Reed is a terrific example of this. Scott, CEO of Oakworth Capital Bank, encourages his employees to have goals, write them down, and create actionable plans for meeting them. Then, he follows up to make sure they’re doing what they set out to. It sounds simple, but encouraging goal setting is an often-overlooked aspect of people management and leadership that can make a huge difference.

  1. Refocus your priorities.

When you wake up and hit it hard, you’re going to be tired by 7 p.m. But that doesn’t mean your family and friends deserve half of your effort at night or on the weekends. When you leave work, refocus on the most important thing in your life — your family and friends — and give them 100 percent.

The gold standard for managing priorities, in my opinion, is Tom Latkovic. Tom is a director at McKinsey & Co. and approaches life with an unbelievable level of intensity. During the week, Tom is the most productive guy I know.

But Tom’s level of intensity doesn’t ease up when he’s with family and friends, and it shows. Tom has his wife drive so he can hammer out work even on the drive to a lake house for vacation. He has a driver service pick him up in Memphis and drive him to the airport so he can work on the way there and not waste time parking. Tom truly is a master at getting the most out of every second of his time.

Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but it’s up to you what you do with those hours. When you wake up earlier, write out your concrete goals, and make time for loved ones, you create fuller days for yourself.

Keep your head in the game, and remember that it’s a team effort. When you lead your team by maximizing your own productivity, you set everyone up for the win.
Carey Rome is a management consultant and leadership expert with more than 15 years of experience developing and driving strategic projects. Carey specializes in utilizing his 3% Leader System™ to help leaders achieve their goals.


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