The Productive Leader Blog
Improving Leadership Effectiveness One Task at a Time
productivity, leadership, time management, strategic planning, volunteer and leader development, nonprofit, small business, organizations and associations
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The Productive Leader Blog

If you’ve subscribed to my weekly tips for awhile you’ll know that I try to get away a couple of times a year for a few days of retreat.  I’ve just returned from Kripalu (http://kripalu.org/about_us/435/) and feel much more clear and focused.  I’m pretty sure that this quiet week of learning and renewal is one of the best things I do to keep myself productive.

With the numerous demands in today’s crazy-busy world, good productivity practices focus on doing the work that matters most.  But, when our minds are full, and bodies exhausted, it’s hard to think clearly enough to know which exactly those things are.  Quite and reflection helps me to identify where in-fact my priorities lay. It helps me identify what my most important work is.

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Imagine every email is a phone message you had to return! I suspect that means you are spending your entire work day on the phone and not getting to your important work. If you put your email responses through the same filter as your phone call responses you’ll reduce the volume and focus on the most important messages. 

  • You may think it’s polite to answer each and every email – but it’s not. Email etiquette suggests you only respond when useful.
  • When you see a big list of people who are copied, it’s ok to take people out of the response list if your response isn’t relevant to them.
  • It’s ok to decide that an email string isn’t a top priority and delete it. Remember, only you are in control of how you use and manage your time.

And don’t forget that your email inbox isn’t a storage location. If you don’t need the email anymore, file it, or even better – DELETE it!

Every once in a while I come across a product that is perfect.

I’ve been carrying the Incipio STOWAWAY® for about the past 6 months. I have had more people comment and get excited about this phone case than anything I’ve owned (that I can remember.) Practically everyone who sees it asks about it and says they want one.

This is a wallet case for my iPhone that holds 3 credit cards (Business Credit Card, Family Credit Card, and Personal Credit Card). It does add a bit of thickness to the case, but that doesn’t bother me. I typically carry my cell phone in my jeans back pocket or in my handbag. The thickness doesn’t affect either of these situations. It is great to have what I need when I need it.

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A friend mentioned that her (big) company recently has added Instant Messaging to their IT system.  She says, “now, while I’m on the phone, or in a meeting, in addition to having to check emails, I have these IM’s popping up at me.”  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???!!!!???!!!!

A study by Microsoft found that it takes an employee an average of 15 minutes to return their attention back to the previous task when distracted by email, instant message, etc.

I know, you think you are special and while you can accept that multi-tasking doesn’t work for everyone else, you can still manage it.  I suspect that you can’t.  [Also understand that there is a difference between multi-tasking and a white-noise activity.  Some people need to doodle, color, play solitaire, etc. to stay focused.]

The secret about multi-tasking?  The secret is that you can’t multi-task. The brain can only do one thing at a time.  You may a fast “task-switcher,” which means you can move from task to task quickly, but the brain is only capable of holding one thought process at a time!  Bummer.

What can you do to get more done?  Try these tips for a week – then assess:

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In the Spring I helped a client organize her husband’s home office as a Father’s Day present.  We were given clear instructions to not touch anything “on the desk,” but everything else was fair game.  Her husband is a Neuroscience Professor at an area university.  Of course he had a large library of books. They were in absolutely no order at all.

I was curious how he could find anything.  Why is it that certain people’s brains need order and others don’t?  (more…)

Yes – actually we now have names for people who keep too much electronic information.  But, there is good news!  Unlike physical clutter where our space fills up and overflows, our computers can handle massive amounts of data.  Bad news is, just like physical clutter, it can negatively affect our quality of life.  Is this you?

  • You’ve missed an important opportunity because the email invitation was hidden among hundreds of unimportant emails
  • You’ve spent hours looking for a document you know you had but couldn’t find
  • Your computer is mired in so much muck that it no longer is the wonderful resource it once was.

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