There are many habits that you can adopt to make you a more productive leader. In my many years experience as a Leadership coach there is one habit that regularly gets in the way of high performance. The habit is failing to plan. When you begin to plan your day, your month and your year, watch how your productivity and performance increase and you start to achieve more of your goals.
Scheduling & Planning
The importance of planning is often overlooked in a busy world. Our instinct is to hit the ground running, react to a multitude of tasks and problems that we face when we arrive at work but the result of this is often unfocused unprioritized work being done, instead of focusing on the number one priority and nailing that before the busy work starts.
Instead you could start by taking time out for a planning session. Think about what you want to achieve by when. What are your top priorities for this year? When you are clear about your priorities you can set goals. Keep the number small enough to be achievable but enough to be challenging (3 to 5) Then break them down into 4 quarters. Each quarter can be broken down into months and the tasks associated with achieving the monthly goals should be scheduled into your calendar. This process does not take very long and is invaluable.
What to Schedule
If you think about all the things you need to get done right now. Are there enough hours in the day to get them done? Most of you will answer no. Scheduling time for tasks is a great way to determine whether you do have enough hours for everything on your to‐do list. It also compels you to make upfront decisions about when you’re going to tackle a task, and it encourages you to decide how long a task should take.
Scheduling time for the tasks you need to do, rather than simply listing them, helps you naturally start to prioritise each task. When you take those tasks and schedule them into your calendar, the picture starts to sharpen, and you begin to see things more clearly. This also allows you to plan work according to your energy levels. For example, just after lunch isn’t the best time to tackle a complicated task.
When you schedule your tasks into your calendar, you naturally block out all other tasks and distractions. It becomes easier to focus because you’ve specified a time period to get the work done.
Schedule your most important tasks and project work for the morning. Afternoons are good for meetings, emails and other administrative tasks that don’t need as much focus and attention. People are generally more alert two to four hours after waking, so if possible tackle your big tasks first.
Finding Time where you think there is none
There are 168 hours in a week. The average adult sleeps seven hours a night during the week and nine hours on the weekend. People work, on average, eight hours a day with three hours for commuting. This leaves 60 hour a week to do whatever you want. You may spend this time looking after children or aging parents, maybe you help out in the community, or you have a longer work week than 40 hours. Regardless of how you spend these 60 hours more or less, you should have a couple of extra hours that you can carve out for yourself. Maybe you use this time to pursue a hobby or a project you want to work on but scheduling the time in advance is how you are going to fit it in. Becoming more aware of how you currently spend your time, empowers you to make good decisions about how you want to spend your time. Scheduling your time and tasks will help you to focus and get it done.
A calendar is a great tool for prioritizing and planning time for doing the jobs you have to do and want to do.
Its my number‐one tip for beating procrastination. If you think something’s important enough, allocate a time for it in your calendar and get it done. Even if you don’t know exactly how to carry out a task, putting a time in your calendar to focus your attention on it will help you to start making progress.
Don’t overpopulate your calendar. Be realistic, and leave time in your day for interruptions and unfortunate events. Only put work in your calendar that you intend to do; don’t fool yourself by planning low‐priority work in your calendar that you know you won’t do.
If you would like to measure your Habit Performance Score you can complete the Performance Scorecard here. This will help you to identify where your focus is needed to improve your performance.
For lots more details on how to create habits that will help you reach High Performance check out my latest book Rise Before Your Bull and other Habits of Successful People
If you would like to read a comprehensive guide to productivity you might like to check out this post from Knowledge for Men here.