But at the end of the day, I have discovered that the 5 most common things productive business leaders do is very simple, and anyone can implement these steps without reading a book or going to a time management seminar.
So, here we go:
1. Grab the stuff that is getting your brain’s attention and write it down. If you don’t, it will keep rolling around like marbles in your head until you do something with the information. This extra information is taking up mental space that can be used on the most important activities.
2. Go on an email detox program. I talk to leaders every day who tell me they often just sit at their desk and wait for new emails to come in so that they can respond quickly to concerns…appearing as if they are always available. While this may seem great, more often than not, the leader’s most important, mission critical activities are being avoided by their email dragon. Unsubscribe from all mailing lists you do not absolutely have to have and then do your best to check email only two times per day, preferably not the minute you walk into your office. I recommend 10-11 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. as good times to check email and then do your best to not look at your email again for any other times of the day.
3. Take a 30 minute nap. Why is it that most countries other than the USA encourage a 30 minute nap in the middle of the day? I suppose we are afraid that someone might just get ahead of us if we are napping (wink, wink). A 30 minute nap can leave you with a great amount of energy, and you will get a big boost in your productivity later in the afternoon. That 30 minute nap will last a lot longer than the latte you are probably using to give you an extra jolt.
4. Remove everything from your life that is dragging you down. This can include people, furniture, old business, old ideas, a leaky faucet, an ugly color of paint or a dying plant. I highly recommend that you de-drag your home and office. If your home, office, friends, network or organizations you deal with are not uplifting, it’s time for a total makeover.
5. Find a calendar or scheduling system that works for YOU and put very specific tasks on your list. I recall someone giving me a Franklin Covey planner when I was about 26. I tried so hard to use it, and it worked for about one month. Then, the pages of the calendar just went blank. The system did not work for me AT ALL. I now use Google Apps, and I love the tool. I put everything I need to do on my calendar, and I make sure that the task I type in is super specific. Instead of simply saying “Work on Marketing”, I will write out “Send email broadcast and write one blog post” (which was on my list for today). I put this on my calendar, and I use Tungle.me for my clients to make their own appointments. The minute I type out what I want to do during a certain block of time, Tungle.me catches it and blocks out that time so that clients cannot make an appointment during that time. So many of us are way too busy working in the business and not on the business, and we all need that time to get the most important things done.
I encourage you to try at least one of the above five strategies as an ongoing behavior and just see if it improves your ability to get things done.