How Do You Improve Productivity As A Leader?

How Do You Improve Productivity As A Leader?

Do you finish work wondering ‘what have I really achieved today?’ or ‘how can I better utilise my time?’. Perhaps you wonder why you were unable to gain that 1-1 performance with a team member. The commonality amongst many is that by the end of the working day you tend to be overwhelmed with what hasn’t been completed or achieved. Before you can process this, your mind becomes preoccupied with tomorrow’s tasks, and emails will start to flash up through dinner.

Why do you feel this way? The simple answer is, we all become easily distracted by others wanting or needing our time, help or resources. This makes being productive at work very difficult due to tasks being stalled. Take control with great planning, organising and structure.

As a performance coach, I have guided many business leaders into realising the power of productivity. You cannot hope to gain the best from your team if you are unable to organise yourself on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. In business, poor planning and organising can look sloppy to customers or clients. For example, next month you may have a follow-up phone call, not making a note in your calendar to schedule preparation of material can be potentially brand damaging.

Try and incorporate these simple tips into your everyday lifestyle to make a difference in your productivity, achievements, team performance and most importantly, your wellbeing:

1. Stop multitasking

It can be tempting to take care of a variety of tasks at once, especially if they seem small or easy, it simply doesn’t work. According to neuroscience professor Earl K. Miller, “multitasking is not humanly possible.” We’re fooling ourselves by thinking we can easily juggle phone calls, presentations, and eating lunch. Focus on one task at a time, you’ll end up completing it faster.Scheduling your day early in the morning, or even the night before, will really focus your attention and enable you to complete one task at a time. Separate various tasks such as phone calls, emails and conversations. Try doing this for all aspects of your life, you will never miss your child’s sports day again, it will have been pride of place in your calendar months before it takes place due to your daily planning routine.

2. Take breaks

You might think working longer hours means you’re getting more done, but we never work to our full potential when we’re burned out. Studies show taking regular breaks helps concentration and boosts your mood. Take a five-minute walk, or spend ten minutes grabbing that mid-afternoon coffee. Notice your mood and how you are feeling, people with a high level of self awareness will notice trigger points which are brought on by certain things such as tiredness, hunger or the performance of your team.

3. Set small goals

Sometimes, looking at our goals can be overwhelming. Seeing a handful of big projects on our calendar can be stressful… but if you break it up into smaller tasks you’ll feel more in control and will be much more productive. Rather than writing ‘finish project’, break this down into the tasks needed to complete the project. You will keep on track in your day-to-day tasks and make the bigger projects seem less daunting by following this technique. I tend to plan early every day and use a well known app call Wunderlist. I am not plugging the app or getting commision, however Wunderlist enables me to set lists which I can hashtag and easily find. I can also date and time my lists for completion. I also like the fact Wunderlist talks to my calendar, so for example I can see that I have an important email to send at 9am tomorrow…… I can also see I need to make a call at 10.20am…… You can add in reference notes to help and also manage longer term projects. Wunderlist is great but doesn’t totally render the pen and paper obsolete, there is nothing like a good old fashioned brainstorm to clear your mind every now and then.

4. Take care of the biggest tasks when you’re most alert

We all sometimes push aside big goals because we’re not confident we’ll accomplish them… And by the time we get to them, we’re too burned out from our day to give it the attention it needs. That’s how projects end up bleeding into additional days, and making it feel like productivity has disappeared. Understanding when and how you work best is key to getting those big projects done on time. There’s no set schedule that works for everyone, if you’re a morning person tackle the big tasks first thing in your day. It can also be useful using a scale to rate the importance of your tasks and what should be completed first. A, B, C or Red, Amber, Green all work well, however, it’s what works best for you that counts! Even though there is no set schedule a great book that gives a structure to work to and is explained really well is the “Pomodoro Technique”.

5. Implement the “two-minute rule”

Make the most of your time at work by filling those tiny windows with actual tasks. According to entrepreneur Steve Olenski, finding and immediately completing tasks that take two minutes or less actually saves you time. So, if it takes less than two minutes, do it now. The other aspect of the two-minute rule is that any goal or habit can be started in under two minutes. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to complete every task in 120 seconds, but starting new goals is the first step to accomplishing them! Another book that I really like and explains this concept well is “Getting Things Done” by Dave Allen.

Now not every day will be smooth and productive, that is absolutely fine and normal. The key when this happens is you recognise this and get back on track for the next day. I find keeping a daily log a great way of writing down my thoughts, feelings and beliefs. This time to think and reflect is critical in your success and the path to you feeling great about your achievements.

As I have said all through this blog not one size fits all when deciding on what planning tools to use and how. There are so many theories, apps, planners etc….. out there currently. One that I particularly like is on Lee Cockerell`s website, The planner he built is completely free to print and adapt to your own needs. Take a look and see what you think.

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Hi! I`m Chris Webb, I live in the South East and started Leaders Retail Consultancy in 2019. Before freelancing, I was a senior retail leader for a number of the UK’s top retailers gaining experience over 23 glorious years. When I am not coaching I enjoy spending time with the family or in the gym.

Click here for more information about Leaders Retail Consultancy

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