Being an effective leader is a constant juggling act, often requiring dealing with insufficient time, people and resources.
Great leaders have learnt the skills of prioritising and of balancing valuable resources. Implement some of the following tips to boost productivity and find some work–life balance.
1. Remember your purpose as a leader.
Your role as leader is NOT to get the job done. Instead, it is to train, mentor, coach and empower your team to get the job done. Ineffective leaders jump in too quickly to do the work because it is easier. But while this approach may be quicker in the short term, it is ineffective and destructive in the long term. Spend time developing your teams now to save time later.
2. Stop multitasking and task-switching.
Multitasking costs us in terms of both time and the quality of the work. Every time we switch between tasks, we lose momentum and focus.
Try this simple experiment by timing yourself on these two tasks.
- On a piece of paper, write the alphabet from A to Z and the numbers 1 to 26, alternating between each list, i.e. A, 1, B, 2, C, 3, D, 4 etc. Record the time.
- Now repeat the exercise BUT this time complete the alphabet first and then the numbers, i.e. A, B, C, D … Z then 1, 2, 3, 4 … 26. Record the time.
The average time difference is between 30% to 50%.
3. Stop attending meetings where you are not required.
Firstly, do not attend any meetings that do not have a clear PAO – Purpose, Agenda and Outcomes.
Secondly, calculate how much time you are spending in meetings. Research indicates that middle managers can be spending up to 60% of their time, or three days a week, in meetings.
Pre-determine the time you will allocate to meetings and then prioritise the meetings you will attend. To prioritise, ask yourself:
- What value am I adding to this meeting?
- What value is this meeting adding to my work performance and productivity?
- Who could I delegate this meeting to?
- How else could I share or keep up to date with relevant data without attending the meeting?
- How else could the decision be made or information shared if there was not a meeting?
Then delegate, decline or delete the meeting.
4. Make meetings more effective.
Always schedule the appropriate amount of time for each meeting. Do not default to 30- or 60-minute time slots just because they are the openings in your diary. At a minimum, make all 60-minute meetings 45 minutes, and all 30-minute meetings 20 minutes. This will improve your productivity by at least 25%.
5. Plan and prioritise.
Great leaders have a plan, and they know how to prioritise the important and urgent, and not get lost in administration and low-level activities.
At the beginning of each year, quarter, month, week and day, plan for the big projects and prioritise. Allocate time in your diary to your major projects first, then all other projects.
Remember to also allow time to develop strategies, to be creative and to learn and innovate. Keep in mind the Big Rock Theory – prioritising the small stuff won’t leave you time for what’s really important.
6. Learn the power of ‘No’.
Effective leaders know how to say ‘No!’ To ensure that you can focus your effort and resources on the projects that will really move the dial, you need to say no to activities that are time-takers.
7. Spend time developing yourself.
Successful leaders know that they still have a lot to learn, and allocate the time and resources to further develop their skills. Spend time reading and attending conferences, or find yourself a mentor or coach. You can create a mastermind group of peers to discuss innovation in your industry and then give yourself the time to reflect on how you could implement changes in your business or team.
8. Keep fresh.
Leaders are humans, not robots. Sadly, too many leaders believe they need to be always ‘on’ and 24/7 access to computers and email supports this myth. Create and commit to ‘keep fresh’ strategies. Take holidays, set firm end-of-day routines, exercise and have a lunch break. We all know we NEED to do these things but, sadly, too many of us do not. Take some time now to plan a break.
9. Stop reading CC emails.
Copying others in to emails has become an insidious habit that we must break. The average person receives 100 emails per day, excluding spam and junk email, and, sadly, too many of them are copies.
Set up an email rule to move all CC emails to a separate folder.
Create an automated reply: ‘To ensure that I am the most productive I can be I am focusing on important and critical emails and information. Therefore, I no longer read CC emails. If you believe that it is critical for me to know the information in this email, please contact me directly. Thanks, and have a great day.’
If we assume that each email takes 90 seconds to read and 30% of emails do not have you as the primary recipient, you have just saved 45 minutes a day. Time for a walk!
10. Understand the tasks that inspire you and those that drain you.
Work is easier when we love what we do. Time seems to fly when we are passionate and engaged in an activity. Spend the time to understand the tasks that inspire you and those that drain you. For the tasks that drain you, consider why this might be and what you could do to change the situation.
- Do you need additional training to be more effective?
- Can you delegate this task to someone else?
- How might you be able to change the process to make completing this task more efficient?
- How could you reframe your approach?
How Peeplcoach is impacting business performance“Your team has enhanced, guided and supported our emerging and developing leaders, and provided them with the skills and confidence to navigate through the acquisition and integration phases, thus becoming an integral component of the change management piece throughout the process.”
– Peter Michael – CLIENT, Executive General Manager People and Culture, WINconnect / Origin Energy
“The Peeplcoach Program has helped me zero in on styles of leadership that can be used for different team members. My team is made up of young team members and older, very experienced executives so the same management techniques may not be well received across the entire team. I have learnt to adapt and tailor my management style to each team member while remembering to be a strong manager, setting boundaries, objectives and goals to ensure business targets are met.”