Three Things the Most Productive Leaders Do Everyday
If someone asked you, “What did you accomplish today?" Would he/she be met with a blank stare or silence? Or would you reply that your three biggest accomplishments were making phone calls, responding to emails, and organizing your desk? You will know if you're focused on the right things when your accomplishments drive the most success for you. A good habit to get into is checking in with yourself toward the end of each day for a few minutes to reflect on what you have really accomplished since you started out that morning. Consider what action you took against anything that’s vital—the activities that drive your goals and help you to be successful. Developing this daily habit creates greater awareness and focus around your vital few for tomorrow. If you’re not accomplishing your priorities, you’ll be able to tell. And then you can take corrective action to address how you’re managing your time and maximize it to address the things that really matter.
Here are some habits of highly productive leaders that you can incorporate into your daily routine:
1. Tackle the most important task first.
Avoid opening email for the first couple of hours every morning. Instead, use your morning energy to tackle critical goals, do creative projects, or address demanding work first. Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog! highlights the importance of eating your 'frog'—your most important task first thing in the morning. When you accomplish your biggest task, it will build the momentum for the rest of your day. Be wary of email and countless other trivial to-dos that are resource robbers. While they must be addressed at some point during the day, they have the potential to throw you off track, particularly in the morning, when you need to be using your precious resources for more vital responsibilities, projects and activities. Often, many of these trivial to-dos can be delegated, while others, such as email, can often be put off, at least long enough so you can maximize that morning time.
2. Eliminate distractions.
Every day, every hour and every minute provides us an opportunity in which we can become easily distracted. What are your distractors? Do you check email or your phone incessantly? When facing a deadline, do you eat lunch out instead of ordering it in, essentially allowing this “time suck” to derail the progress toward your goal? Do you enable or permit interruptions and phone calls when you’re holding a meeting—even with just one person? Whatever distractors you’ve got, identify them, build a plan to better manage them, and then implement that plan. If you need help staying focused on your priorities, then download our free time management checklist. Look back at what accomplishments you wrote down each day—if you didn’t meet your goals, spot or surface any distractors, and then find a way to stop or deal with them.
3. Write down accomplishments.
Don’t just rattle off in your head about what you accomplished today while driving home from work. Try to take a few minutes to write down those accomplishments on paper. Seeing them in black and white will create focus and clarity. If you didn’t quite hit the mark, you’ll see that void, too, and be able to create a plan of attack for tomorrow. With a plan in hand for the next day, this will boost your odds of making progress and help you to reach those vital goals. Then, visualize how good you will feel if you accomplish what you’ve put on that list for tomorrow. The next day, let the possibility of that feeling motivate you to transform that hopeful thinking into real success!
How do you end your workday to maximize productivity for the next day?