Being “ultra-productive” isn't about working the longest hours. It's not about sacrificing everything for your company. It’s not about making more money that everyone else, and it’s not about being a slave to your email, phone or office. Becoming more productive isn’t even necessarily about doing more work.
Being ultra-productive means accomplishing the most important work as efficiently as possible. Here’s the good news: We can learn from the people who are ultra-productive and put their rules to work for us.
Get Enough Sleep
I list this rule first because it’s really that important. Shaving time off your sleep schedule in order to accomplish more may hurt your chances of being successful in the long-term. People who accomplish a lot each day understand that they need to get their optimal amount of sleep (which can vary from person to person) in order to perform optimally. Burning the candle at both ends will eventually burn you out. Getting enough sleep may help you tackle your to-do list with vigor.
Make Good Lists
The most productive people I know are habitual list makers. They don’t just make haphazard lists; they understand that effectively prioritizing their tasks helps them accomplish their most important work.
Consider making a daily list that reflects what needs to be done to meet the needs of your company. You need revenue. You need happy customers and you need to establish systems that make tasks self-completing. If you’re not spending time on work that accomplishes one of these three goals, then maybe you're not working as efficiently as possible.
Balance Work and Home
Carving out time for family isn’t always easy, and it can be hard to see how important it is in terms of your productivity. But taking time for people and activities who renew and nurture you is important. If you’re feeling guilty about missing yet another soccer game or dance recital, then you may not be working as efficiently as you could be.
Spending quality time with people who matter to you can help you leave for work with a clean conscience. When you’re home, you should be at home, devoting all your energy to the people who are the reason you work hard. Giving yourself the luxury of dedicated family time may help you accomplish more during the business day.
Take Care of Your Body
Just like the balance of work and home is important, ultra-productive people know that the mind-body connection can be powerful as well. Not only does regular exercise and good nutrition make for a strong body, but it can also refresh you mentally. Whether you carve out time for exercise in the morning, midday or after the workday, devoting time to strengthening your body can pay off.
Empower Your Employees
You can’t do it all. No one can. No matter how brilliant you are, you have strengths and weaknesses just like every other mortal. Consider assembling a team that balances your skill set and empowering that team to make decisions and take action. Doing so can mean that you can work to your strengths and avoid wasting time on tasks you’re not good at.
Delegating is important. Letting your staff know that they have your support, even if they make a mistake, may help improve your team's effectiveness. Empowered employees are more invested, more productive and more loyal. Your role as the head of the company doesn't have to include micromanaging every detail. Assigning tasks to good staff may free you up to work on big-picture concerns.
Have the Right Tools for the Job
Whether it’s a pen and paper to jot down notes or a fancy app that helps you see your prioritized to-do list at a glance, ultra-productive people often seek the simplest, most efficient solution to their problems. Wasting time fiddling with the latest app for everything known to mankind may not be productive. Having the right tools isn’t always about being a slave to technology—it’s about making technology work for you.
Take a Step Back
In addition to following the six rules above, ultra-productive people also tend to periodically take a step back and evaluate their productivity. An objective assessment from time to time can help you find ways to streamline tasks, automate processes and ensure that the time you spend working is truly productive.
For more tips to help you stay productive on your next business trip, access Business as Pleasure: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Travel.
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