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7 Productivity Habits of Highly Sustainable Leaders

Your brain is not designed to hold ideas, your brain is designed to have ideas.” – Robert Allen, ‘Getting Things Done”

Are you paid to be productive, to think, prioritize and make the right decisions quickly?  If you want avoid burning up or burning out, you’ll need to preserve your greatest asset:  Your brain!left-brain-right-brain1-283x300

An informal survey of 150 senior managers who participated in the most recent Sustainable Leaders Strategic Planning workshop revealed the biggest challenge they faced was “having too much to do in too little time with fewer resources than ever before… and having to make the right decisions quickly.”

The often unbelievable demands to be both highly productive and accurate bombard us daily.  What’s different? The speed with which business must get done today is light years faster than even 15 or 20 years ago.  In many industries (technology), change happens too quickly and if you only strive to keep up, you will be out of business faster than you can say “Buck Rogers.”

There are only 24 hours in a day and you cannot create “more time” in a day.  The solution for most is to work longer and harder to get the job done.  The only problem with that solution is that it is a recipe for burn out.

Let’s break the rules and shift your perspective consider this:  Time is a limited resource and energy is an infinitely unlimited resource.  You cannot create more time.  You can, however, create more energy by taking control not only of your time, but where your attention is within that time frame.

My personal observation is that productive and sustainable leaders who feel happy and satisfied at the end of each day actively focus on BOTH how much they DO and DON’T DO to conserve brain power and leverage energy successfully.

Here are the 7 Productivity Habits of Highly Successful & Sustainable Leaders (who feel satisfied and have peace of mind at the end of the day):

#1.  Be Selfish With Your Time

Say “No” 100 times for every time you say “Yes.” If saying “No” is hard for you (as it is for most people), add “No, thank you” so you can get the added benefit of being grateful and appreciative, if not polite.

#2.   Avoid Multitasking

The latest studies in brain based learning prove that multitasking is not only impossible (we switch attention, our brains are incapable of focusing on two things at once), but to make matters worse, the reduction in accuracy for even the “best multi-tasker” doing the simplest of tasks is almost 50%.  Pretty scary when you think about the complex tasks you do simultaneously (driving a car, talking on a cell phone or talking on the phone and typing an email response).  Try to focus on doing one thing at a time.  Notice how much less time it takes, especially because you don’t run the risk of hitting “send” prematurely then spending time on damage control.

#3.  Listen More … Talk Less

Bottom line, people will feel heard and be able to find their own solutions more easily without unnecessary interference from you.  And, you will conserve your brain power for more important challenges that lie ahead.

#4.  Delegate and Leverage OPE (Other People’s Energy)leverage stress

When you delegate, trust and offer challenges to people, not only will it benefit you, but also they’ll feel better about you if you do.  We all know the importance of delegating so that you aren’t seen as the control freak in the corner office.  But did you know that when you delegate responsibilities and tasks (with their buy in of course), the meta-message (as long as the deadline is reasonable or they are involved in setting the deadline) or message under the message, is “trust.”  The receiver feels you believe in them enough to give them the opportunity to rise to the challenge.  Win win.

#5.  Prioritize Prioritizing

Indecision happens when we have too many thoughts getting stuck in or out of sequence in the cognitive pipeline.  Often we can get thoughts flowing again when we ask ourselves “What’s the one most important thing that needs to be decided and acted upon before that decision can be made?”

Whether you are a list maker or mind map fan, get every thought bouncing around inside of your head OUT of your head and onto paper, a whiteboard or computer program you are in the habit of checking or using regularly (“Freemind” is a simple and free example).  Robert Allen’s “Getting Things Done” is a must read for “How To’s” when it comes to being more productive so you can take quick, effective action.

#6.  Take Frequent Breaks

The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC for short) is the part of your brain responsible for your ability to avoid distraction, make decisions, reason, understand and memorize.  Think of it as powered by rechargeable batteries, not a 220v power cord plugged into an outlet in the wall.  It needs frequent recharging (among other ingredients) in order for high performance.  Taking a short 20 minute walk inside or outside your office building at the most hectic time of day will not only benefit your metabolism and your waistline, but also your brain.  Try shutting off your brain for 5 minutes just two or three times a day, talk to a co-worker about a non-related subject (this is probably why gossip is so enticing), play a game of angry birds or juggle.

#7.  Practice Mindfulness vs. Mindlessnesshanding_down_the_key_pc_1600_wht (1) - Copy

Think of how many “mindless” automatic patterns you have every day.  Repeatedly doing routine tasks (like shaving, putting on your pants or brushing your teeth) the same way every day, doesn’t do your brain any favors.  You are just deepening the same brain groove over and over.  You are wasting valuable real estate!  If you normally put your right leg in your pants first, put your left leg in first instead.  If you begin shaving your face left side first, try starting your first swipe on a different part of your face.  Do you have stairs in your office building?  Which leg do you typically start with as you start up a flight of stairs?  Try what you think I’m going to suggest next ….

If you are paid to think, treat your brain and your energy as precious commodities that need daily TLC to function most effectively and with ease.  Pick one of these 7 Tips to practice each day and notice what happens to your mind and your mood; you too will become a Sustainable Leader one small step at a time.

 

 

 

5 Brain Based Learning Strategies for Leadership Effectiveness

Brain Based Learning Strategies for Leadership EffectivenessAngry Boss

As the boss, have you ever “lost it” in a meeting?  Even if your answer is “Of course not!” would your team agree with you?

The way we communicate determines our ability to engage, motivate and inspire creativity in our team.

Unfortunately, the skills needed to communicate effectively are sometimes lost because what we see and hear in ourselves as a leader is not always the same as what our employees experience during conversations and meetings.

By using Brain Based Learning Strategies we can develop a new understanding of our approach and the impact it has on results.

Coming to terms with how we lead is the first step to improving our effectiveness and ability to develop into a Sustainable Leader, one that can face challenges and drive his or her team to success over the long haul.

I wrote a post describing an executive coaching session with “Jeff” (not his real name) where you can see Brain Based Learning, self evaluation and creating a new mindset for improved leadership effectiveness in action:

It was “Jeff’s” (not his real name) third team meeting this week, and after this particularly long meeting he was beyond frustrated. “Why can’t they just get it right? How many times do I have to tell them what I want? Why don’t they get it? Are they that stupid? Or do they just not give a damn?”  Click here to read the entire blog post at ManagingAmericans

Christina blogs as an Expert Panelist at ManagingAmericans.com

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