The Productive Leader Blog
Improving Leadership Effectiveness One Task at a Time
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The Productive Leader Blog

“NO” is the most powerful productivity tool ever!  As the new year is upon us, with all our new goals and aspirations, it is easy to get caught up in the vortex of hoarding opportunities.  With the myriad of information and prospective “things” we can do with our time, money, and energy staying focused is … hard.

To effectively evaluate if you should say “YES,” getting clear about what is important is critical.  (Check out my 10 Minute Goal Setting Blog Post if you need some direction with this.) Remember, that when you say “YES” to one thing you are saying “NO” to something else.  Your resources are not endless!  Filter questions include:

  • If I say YES to this opportunity, what will I be saying NO to?
  • Will saying YES help me achieve something valuable, useful, or important?
  • Will saying NO be a relief?

Once you are clear with what’s important saying “NO” becomes much easier.

Get a handle on your JOMTI.  On your what?

JOMTI – Just One More Thing-Itis!

You know that urge to squeeze one more thing in…and then it makes you late.  It makes you late for the holiday party, the concert, or puts you at the mall with only an hour left to shop.  It makes the traffic heavier, it makes the prices higher and it makes the blood pressure rise.

Now, what if instead of making that phone call, answering that email, or checking your phone one last time you left 5 minutes earlier.  I know, it’s hard to do.  But consider the benefit.  Ask yourself – it is worth it?  Even if it was an important task, ask yourself:

  • Can it wait?
  • What if I did it later?
  • What if I didn’t get to it at all?

The trade off for doing one less thing? MORE JOY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON.

Wishing you a wonderfully joyful pre-holiday week.

Making A List And Checking It Twice

Making A List And Checking It Twice

No… not talking about Santa’s list.  I’m talking about your TO DO list.  If you’re putting EVERYTHING on your list you are probably overwhelmed.  Before you say YES to a task or opportunity, run it through a filter list that helps you sort the yes’s from the no’s:

Possible Filter List Questions:   

  • Will it help someone or something important to me?
  • Will it help me grow personally or professionally?
  • Will it help me reach my goals?
  • Will I have fun doing it?
  • Will it give me joy?

Not sure? Ask yourself:

  • What’s the worst thing that will happen if I say NO?
  • Why should I say YES, and why should I say NO?
  • If I say YES to this, what will I be saying NO to?

If the answer isn’t clearly “yes”, then it probably should be “no.”

Last week I wrote about setting up your to-do list by priorities so that you didn’t have to copy the same information over and over again.  This concept captures the new way of managing time.  The reality is that no matter how hard we work or how organized we are, we can no longer get everything done.  When planning how to use our time I have found it most effective to group my to-dos into priorities.  Many time-management gurus have their own methodology.  Mine is a hybrid – based on what I’ve seen WORK with clients over the past 12 years.  As with everything I do, it’s easy, because we’ve learned – if it’s not easy it doesn’t happen.

Critical – must be done today before I leave the office or go to bed

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I received a question from one of you this week.  JW writes: I am a true list maker. I make a “to do” list every single day. Only problem is that I use several different types of note pads and don’t throw the list away each day. (some days I’m better than others).  Therefore, I have various lists on kitchen counter, desk in my office, night table. Then I spend a few minutes each day merging the lists, etc. I realize it’s a definite waste of time and was wondering if there are others like me.

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As we go through our busy days we are pulled in many directions.  Deciding what actually priorities are, isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Is it working on the project plan for your team/boss/self?  Is it attending another meeting?  Is it making time to exercise or getting to your child’s concert on time?  Is it choosing to answer the phone or the emails?  It is truly hard to decide.

Interestingly enough, the word DECIDE comes from the Latin word decidere, which literally means to cut off (from de- + caedere to cut).  When you decide to do one thing you are CUTTING OFF the opportunity to do something else.   No wonder this is difficult!

To help you DECIDE what your priorities are, I recommend creating a filter list.  Run your options through the filter and see which items are big enough to not fall through.  Here is the criteria I use for my “Must Do Today” filter:

If I don’t do it today:

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