One of the key factors of business success is productivity. As a leader, if you’re able to meet deadlines and consistently stay productive with other tasks, you’ll have an easier time building your brand. However, not every leader is productive; several have poor habits that get in the way of their success. These habit have a direct negative influence on productivity. For example, if you have a habit of procrastinating, then your ability to complete work on time will suffer. There are some leaders who have mastered productivity which has allowed them to excel in life. They credit their productivity to their good habits.
Today, we’ll be exploring 10 habits of highly productive leaders. These are listed in no particular order because all are equally important in increasing productivity.
Organize Your Day
Productive leaders will take time to prioritize their day so that the most important things get done first. Doing this will help you stay on top of your end goal, inching you ever closer to it. I recommend creating a list of important tasks to be completed the night before so the next day you know exactly how to start your day. Think about it; you don’t want to spend an hour during your work hours trying to figure out what you should be doing, right? This cuts into your productivity and the pressure of starting work might cause you to forget something important you need to complete. There are some helpful tools you can utilize to organize your day. For example, using tools like Evernote as well as online and mobile applications such as Todoist will help organize your work and de-clutter your life.
Utilize the Right Tools
By doing a quick Google search you’ll find several productivity boosting tools to help you stay on top of your game. Work is becoming more complex since communication channels are growing, your ability to network has broadened, and client demands are changing due to increased competition. You need to find a way to manage all of these changes effectively to ensure everything gets done on time.
Consider using tools like Sane Box to help manage overwhelming email messages, and implement autoresponders to lower the amount of emails you need to respond to. Use Trello boards, lists and cards so you can organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.
The Pomodoro Technique
Sometimes, leaders simply get burned out; the quality of work suffers, ultimately lowering productivity. Use productivity techniques like Pomodoro to help avoid burnout and manage your time more efficiently.
This technique involves working in 25-minute blocks with short 5 minute-breaks in between. So, after 25 minutes, you take a short 5-minute break. Each work block should be extremely focused, without any distraction, then, when taking a break, you must move away from your work: take a bathroom break, grab a drink of water, call a friend, etc. Working this way will greatly improve your productivity, making each minute count.
One of the best ways to stay productive is to work in a place without distractions. Think about how many times you check your phone during work or the number of times you answer calls in the middle of a project. A two-minute distraction can cause you to lose your focus, time which you’ll then have to gain back. Productive leaders know the negative impact of having distractions close by so they avoid them at all costs. The next time you sit down to work, silence your phone, turn off the TV, and find a quiet place to work. You can also utilize the “Do Not Disturb” function on your phone.
A 20-minute run in the morning will increase the flow of endorphins in your blood. These are your body’s natural painkillers, and have been proven to increase focus, motivation, and energy. Specifically, endorphin is a neurotransmitter just like dopamine and serotonin. Together with dopamine and serotonin, endorphin lowers stress and fights off depression, allowing you to stay more optimistic at work and in life.
I recommend exercising first thing in the morning as a way to help jumpstart your day.
Batch Your Work Together
Switching from task to task greatly reduces productivity by up to 40%. As you start working on a project, you focus on every aspect. Try not to disrupt this focus because you’ll have a hard time getting it back. The last thing you want to do is start a project that’s due in two hours, then jump to another one, which ends up taking all your time and energy.
Instead, it’s better to batch work together. Break down projects into similar tasks, and schedule these tasks together. That way, you’ll complete the project on time— (maybe even earlier!). For example, on Monday, work on Project A. Tuesday, Project B, and so forth. This will ensure you give 100% of your focus and energy to the project on that day.
Say no during work hours, because saying “Yes” means you’re leaving your priorities to help others achieve theirs. Imagine working on a task and someone asks you for help, which ends up taking 5 hours of your time. You come back tired, unable to focus and remain productive. This will hurt your bottom line. You need to get into the habit of saying “No” when you are working on something that’s important enough to affect your overall success. Saying “No” will also give you a chance to take time to reevaluate what’s being asked of you. You’ll have time to think it through-- rushing your decisions can cost you more time overall.
Enjoy Time Off
Getting burned out at work will destroy your productivity and affect the quality of work being done. For this reason, move away from work on your days off and enjoy the things you love to do (i.e. spending time with family, going out with friends, reading, etc.) Cutting out some time for yourself will recharge your battery and prepare you for the work ahead. You’ll not only be relaxed, energized and motivated, but also productive and focused, performing to your best abilities.
Highly productive leaders love what they do; this keeps them motivated even when faced with adversity. For you to keep pushing forward, you need to love what you do or you’ll just give up when faced with difficulties. Being passionate about your work is the motivation you need to jump out of bed in the morning and be an effective leader. As the late Steve Jobs said,
"You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.”
- Measure Results
Productive leaders know what works and what doesn’t. They have the right tools in place to measure results and can make tweaks to achieve their bottom line. In the end, if you are working and not achieving your desired outcome, then you are wasting time instead of making progress. Ask yourself this question: How can you adjust your course so you’re headed in a better direction? You should ask yourself this question every day so you can adjust your course the next day to achieve better results, which will ultimately increase your productivity.
Your ability to stay productive in a competitive world is the difference between success and failure, but productivity starts with the habits you build in your life. The better your habits, the more productive leader you’ll be at work. You’ll have an easier time motivating employees and building your brand. However, if you have poor habits, then you’ll have a harder time conquering your goals and motivating your team to stay focused.
Start by going through the list of helpful habits above, noting ones you need to improve upon. This will give you a better idea of how close you are to those truly productive leaders who run successful companies. One advantage of practicing good habits is that, with practice, they can be built into a vital productive tool. Make a conscious effort to enforce these productive habits every day, as doing so will increase your leadership skills.