The Art of Productivity: Accomplishing More While Working Less
Guest post by Doug Beckley, Group Leader for Catapult Groups
Let’s face reality. Time management is a myth. We have no control over time. No one has enough time, yet everyone has all there is. All we can control is ourselves. We can control how we manage ourselves, our activities and how we choose to spend our time. This is where change must occur.
Focus on what matters most
To be successful in business and in life, we must focus on and accomplish those things which matter most – those activities which most significantly impact our goals and achieve results. Research tells us that 80% of a leader’s results flow from 20% of their activities. I call these “high payoff activities.” To be effective, we must know what our high payoff activities are and then organize and execute around them so that we are constantly impacting our goals (producing results).
The objective of our workday is not to be busy; it is to get the right things done. If we work each day without thinking about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it, we’ll spend time on unproductive or even counterproductive activities. We must stop, take a breath and consciously assess our work. Determine what results you desire and convert these results into specific goals with precise deadlines. Then, align daily activities with these goals. At the end of your week, check progress against goals and adjust for the following week.
Just say No!
Human nature is to react to those things which appear urgent (ringing phones, employee problems, impending deadlines). As a result, we tend to blow off things which don’t seem urgent (planning and organizing, developing our people, our health, etc.). This is a fatal mistake. Just because something is in our face doesn’t mean it’s important! To be effective, we must question every activity which appears to demand our attention and say NO to those that don’t produce results or impact our goals. Successful people say no all the time. They’re are the author of their day, rather than victims of their environment.
Develop and delegate
There are two primary types of overworked managers. First are micromanagers, who won’t let go because no one can do things as well as they can. The second are “dumpers”—exercising delegation without empowerment which results in bungled outcomes. If you work more than 50 hours a week, you’re probably doing someone else’s job. To effectively delegate, you must select the right person, clearly communicate your expectations, provide training, support them with feedback and follow up to ensure accountability. Now those are high payoff activities!
These tips are fundamental, to be sure. However, when we get busy or stressed, we often neglect or discard the basics. Remember, when we’re too busy to change how we work, that is the time that change is needed most.
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