You know that co-worker whose inbox is always empty? How about the one who never fails to do the pre-work before training sessions? Or, the one who gets their expenses done before the plane even touches down on the tarmac? You know… those stunning overachieving masters of productivity that you love to hate? Add the amazing fact that these aren’t individual contributors we’re talking about. They’re managers with large teams, projects and looming deadlines! How is it that these crazy-busy folks manage to stay on top of everything, while the rest of us slog around in a state of “barely getting by”?
New Year. New Beginnings. New Hope to Becoming a Mega-Productive Manager!
Be curious no more. A new year is here and with it, a chance for the rest of us to try a few new tricks to manage time and dial up our productivity. There is no better time to press the reset button and get to it. Check out these 6 Secrets of Mega-Productive Managers.
Tune-Out: Mega-productive managers are amazingly good at tuning out the many distractions that come at them throughout the day, particularly if they have a major deadline they are working towards.
- Schedule working time on your calendar. Don’t allow yourself or others to schedule over time you have blocked. Hold it sacred until you’ve finished what you need to finish. The undistracted time will help you be more focused and more efficient.
- Step away from your email. I know this is hard. Not long ago, one of my digitally untethered and enlightened friends threatened to throw my phone in the lake while we were on vacation together. While the very thought of that induced hives, the truth is, I know being in constant communication often wreaks havoc on my ability to truly focus on what matters most at that point in time. Give yourself permission to disconnect for a little while every day to allow yourself to go heads-down in your work.
Act Now: Mega-productive managers do not procrastinate. If they can do something right now, they make it happen.
- Apply the five-minute rule. If a task comes your way and it can be done in five minutes or less, do it right away! Resist the temptation to add it to your to-do list. When you wait on the little stuff, your list grows exponentially and can quickly become overwhelming, which leads to … you guessed it! Procrastination. If it’s simple, do it now.
Focus on the Few: Mega-productive managers know what’s most important to get done every day and that’s how they prioritize. No more, no less.
- Know your MITs. Help yourself slay that never-ending to-do list by ending every day with a quick two-minute reflection on the top three things you need to accomplish the next day. Those are your most important tasks (MITs). Commit to getting those done, no matter what. By focusing on the few, rather than that super long list you have, you’ll be sure the day doesn’t slip away from you.
Make the Call: In the same way that they don’t procrastinate getting things done, Mega-productive managers also don’t hesitate to make decisions.
- Don’t overthink decisions. When we’re busy, it’s easy to push out decision-making. You tell yourself you’re waiting for more information. Or, for things to calm down so you have a minute to figure it out. Recognize that these are excuses and they simply cloud your mind more and paralyze your productivity. Consider the facts you have at hand, trust what your team is telling you and make the call.
Empower Your People: Perhaps the single biggest thing that Mega-productive managers do better than the rest of us is to master the art of delegation.
- Uncover your barriers to delegation. It’s hard to argue that delegation is a game-changer when it comes to productivity, but why do so many of us avoid it? Get real with yourself and recognize what’s getting in your way. Then, ask yourself two questions. First, “What’s at stake if you don’t make a change?” And then, “What can you do to minimize the risk you perceive?”
Take a Break: This one may seem counterintuitive, but the mega-productive manager crowd will tell you nothing hampers your ability to get things done more than trying to do it all when you’re running on empty.
- Work in short bursts. Rather than powering through your work, try being diligent about working in short bursts. Go heads down in whatever you are working on for 25 minutes at a time. Set a timer to keep yourself focused. When time is up, take a five-minute break. Get up and get moving when you do! Resist the urge to check email or hop on social media. Take your eyes off your screen(s) and give yourself a brief change of scenery, allowing both your body and mind to disengage.
Whether you start small with one or two of these tips, or go all in and adopt them all, making an effort towards mega-productivity will make you a more efficient individual and leader for your team. What other productivity tips do you have for managers? I’d love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org.