The key to being a successful leader is maximizing your productivity. When you focus on time management, it becomes much easier to excel at essential job functions including:
- Investing more time in making strategic decisions
- Developing more authentic and productive relationships with employees
- Fostering stronger partnerships with key external contacts
All of those activities require a lot of mental presence so, the more distractions and unnecessary tasks you eliminate, the more effective you will become.
Here are four productivity hacks that will make you a better leader:
1) Require All Meetings to be Action-Oriented
Employees and managers alike think that 50% of meetings are a waste. This creates a huge loss of productivity and often makes employees frustrated with your leadership since meetings pull them away from their projects.
Two common drivers of unproductive meetings are:
- They’re too broadly focused. As a result, the majority of conversation topics are irrelevant to most attendees.
- People come to the meeting unprepared. Without a set structure and prep work to ensure everyone is on the same page, lots of time is wasted clarifying what should be discussed and filling people in on the information they need to know to fully participate.
The solutions to these issues are to narrow meeting agendas to focus on a single core topic and require that all attendees are up-to-date on the items you're discussing. Both of these actions will significantly reduce meeting length.
Here are some additional hacks to ensure your meetings are productive:
- Only include people who are involved in decision-making. Brief everyone via email.
- Send out a detailed agenda three days before the meeting and instruct everyone to prepare the items they are responsible for.
- Twenty-four hours before the meeting, have everyone send out materials (new data, items that you're evaluating, relevant reports, etc.) so that everyone has the same knowledge going into the meeting.
- Strictly enforce the meeting agenda.
As a leader, giving your employees more time to focus on their projects is one of the most effective ways to boost team productivity and performance.
2) Deliberately Prioritize Who Gets Your Time
As a business leader, people are constantly asking for your time. If you’re not careful, your days quickly fill up with mildly useful meetings, and you neglect to give proper attention to your employees and key contacts.
To the greatest extent possible, delegate conversations with vendors (and other external parties that are of medium importance) to your subordinates. Doing so frees up your time to develop stronger relationships with critical outside contacts and be a better, more engaged leader for your team.
If you don’t have them already, one of the first things you should do with your extra time is to commit to weekly (or bi-weekly) meetings with your team.
According to time management expert, Elizabeth Grace Saunders, one-on-one sessions are one of the most effective ways to boost your productivity and your team’s. The conversations give you insights that enable you to proactively resolve potential setbacks before they become time-consuming crises.
To maximize the productivity benefits, focus your conversations on topics such as:
- What challenges they’re facing
- What kinds of support they need to improve their quality and efficiency
- Their ideas to improve company culture, processes, products, etc.
Following meetings, consult with other leaders in your company to take action on your employee’s requests.
3) Limit Email to 3 Times Per Day
Researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that people are most productive and least stressed when they only check email three times per day. That is nine times less than the amount the average employee checks their email.
Limiting email to three times per day boosts your productivity because dramatically improves your ability to focus throughout the day. Every time you pause another task to check email, it takes an average of 16 minutes to refocus. Thus, the fewer times you look at it, the less distracted you'll be.
If you’re worried about appearing disconnected, tell your team the times of day that you plan to check emails and, as long as their roles don’t revolve around constant communication, encourage them to adopt the practice.
You can also let people know that if they need to reach you immediately, they should text or call you.
If you don’t have time to get through all of your emails during your scheduled times, prioritize ones from critical external contacts and internal contacts that may be bottlenecked until you reply.
Not only will do this improve your ability to complete your work, but it also gives your employees clear expectations regarding when they will get a response from you.
Giving your employees your reply schedule is a great leadership tactic since it reassures them that they will be given a response at a set time and they don’t have to worry about being bottlenecked by your lack of feedback.
If limiting your email still seems daunting, download our Inbox Management Guide. It will walk you through how to create an inbox management system that saves time and prevents important messages from slipping through the cracks.
4) Fully Leverage Your Admin Support
A survey of 500 U.S. managers found that 59% of managers spend 3+ hours on admin work per day. Considering that a leader’s primary responsibilities are to drive strategic activities and maintain employee success, those hours spent on admin are a massive loss of productivity and, likely, performance.
To be a better leader, you need to fully leverage your company’s admin support. Here are some ways that will immediately boost your productivity:
- Training them on how to complete your routine, objective tasks.
- Having them screen your calls.
- Giving them most of your small tasks that arise.
The more tasks you offload, the better leader you’ll become since you can focus more attention on the strategic, relationship-building activities that drive your success.
If you don’t have in-house support, consider hiring a virtual assistant. If you’re accustomed to doing everything yourself, a VA can easily take all your admin off your plate at a fraction of the cost of in-person hire.
Plus, if you hire a managed service like Prialto, utilizing your assistant is easy since we will train and coach your VA for you. Just let your Engagement Manager know what you need, and they’ll ensure your assistant gets the appropriate instruction. And, if your assistant is ever out of the office, you’ll have a trained backup ready to support you.
Save Time with an Inbox Management System
Download our free guide for creating an inbox management system that dramatically reduces the amount of time you spend on email and prevents important messages from slipping through the cracks. In it you'll learn:
- How to choose a sorting approach
- Best practices for creating clear sorting rules
- Tips for implementing your inbox management system + productivity hacks
- [Pro Tip] How to delegate your inbox management to an assistant
About the author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.