You’re on your fourth cup of coffee, head pounding from client emails, staring at your computer screen with tired eyes in the third meeting of the afternoon. Just another day at the office, right?
I talk about ripping people off the couch, but I’m equally invested in ripping people from their desks.
You procrastinate, feel stuck, and then complain you “don’t have enough time in the day.”
Great leaders don’t complain. They figure it out. Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk—these guys make the most of their 24 hours. They don’t sit in pointless meetings, feel overwhelmed with tasks, or allow distractions.
So why do you? If you want to climb the corporate ladder, you need to put in the work.
At the end of the day, you are responsible for your company’s failure or success. So if you want to get ahead, maximize your hours in the day with these 4 tips:
Stop holding unnecessary meetings.
Think back to that meeting you held last week—the one where half your employees were head down in emails and the other half were daydreaming about hitting deadlines. What did you accomplish in that meeting? Was it worth taking 1-2 hours of every employees’ workday? You’re wasting their time and costing the company money. Period.
Consider Jeff Bezos’ “two pizza rule.” If the meeting room is full with more people than two pizzas can feed, Bezos leaves. More often than not, you don’t need as many people as you think to hold a meeting. The time spent sitting around a table talking about getting work done could be better spent actually getting the work done.
And here’s the scary truth: Employees—from entry-level to CEO—waste more than $37 million per year on unproductive meetings. Wonder why you’re not hitting revenue goals? Frustrated with your employees’ Not-Enough-Time-in-the-Day Syndrome? Give them their time back. Stop being a bottleneck for client communications, projects, and deals.
If that’s not your style, try Jason Fried’s technique. He allows employees to pick and choose which meetings to attend, leaving them with the decision of what benefits them and what doesn’t.
Forcing your employees to participate in time-suck activities is only hurting your company.
Start with smaller tasks.
You’re assigned a new project with tight deadlines and you don’t have a single clue where or how to start. You’re so overwhelmed picturing the giant end result that your brain fogs up trying to hit the ground running. We’ve all been there.
My advice? Write it down and break it up. Bullet journal.
Bullet journaling is exactly how it sounds: bulleting a to-do list of your daily tasks. It’s a common practice among successful leaders, like SVP of Strategy at QuickBase Jay Jamison.
Every morning, build out your to-do list. What are the non-negotiable items you have to complete before the workday is done? Some of mine are zeroing my inbox, finalizing my travel schedule, and completing 300 burpees on my lunch break.
To feel less overwhelmed, try cutting your big task into smaller, easy-to-accomplish chunks. This tactic makes the big task feel more doable and reduces our tendency to procrastinate. Just starting the project gives you momentum to keep going. You finish one task, feel the stress relief, and move onto the next.
Turn off your phone.
Stop reading now and look down at your desk. What do you see? If you’re like me and the rest of America, you see a cell phone, a work phone, and two or more computer monitors. We’re more connected than ever, but it only hurts our productivity.
Stop trying to do everything at once. Multitasking can reduce your productivity by 40%. When you play Social Media Roulette–checking your timeline on one app then moving onto the next and finding your way back to the first one you opened–you’re throwing away an opportunity to get real progress in the books.
It’s obvious I’m far from an internet mogul, so excuse my bias. But here’s an idea: turn off your phone.
Dedicate space each day to checking notifications and catching up on news however you choose to consume it. Richard Branson calls this a “social sweep” and he chooses to do this in the morning after his workout.
If you can’t live without your phone, figure out a way.
I don’t care if it’s below freezing in the dead of winter, or if it’s the hottest day in July. Get outside.
You’re talking to the CEO of Spartan. I make racers run through mud and crawl under barbed wire in the pouring rain. If weather is a threat to you, rethink your status as a leader.
We all can spare five minutes in our day to leave the office—and there’s no shortage of research on how even a short walk outside has tremendous benefits for the mind and body. It decreases fatigue, de-stresses the mind, and improves your ability to focus. And it can do your company a world of favors.
80% of organizations believe their employees are overwhelmed with information and activity—and only 8% have programs to address the issue. Our brains need a break from constant usage. We need to get outside, breathe fresh air, and move our otherwise sedentary bodies.
If you want an added challenge, download the SpartanFit Challenge App and join companies all around the world in a 30-day health competition. Let’s see how well you lead your company on and off the clock.
Look, I know things happen. You’re going to have employees who procrastinate no matter how many times they go for a walk or turn off their phones. You’re going to get stuck on a project because of miscommunication or lack of detail.
As a leader, it’s your job to adopt the correct time management skills so your employees trust you to make the right decisions. You’re not much of a company without that trust. So what do you have to change to get there?
Let me know on LinkedIn.