To Execute, and Be Productive – You Gotta Clean House…

I have been through many different training courses on productivity and read a lot of books, and while I don’t practice a particular one,  from them I have formed my own personal methods and processes. One time I was hired for a consulting engagement because as the client said, “You get an amazing amount of things done, so I want to work with you to learn how to do that.” Recently though I felt as if I was bogged down and wasn’t getting as much done as I wanted to. I had trouble making decisions, and was making dumb mistakes on things that I should not be having trouble with.

I knew what one of my main issues was, and I dreaded tackling it. It is the thing that is the Achilles heal of executives the world over… email! I have various email accounts for different purposes. Over the course of the last year as life has been stressful and frustrating, I let them dwindle into chaos. It took me over a week, to delete over 30,000 emails (yes that is correct). Most of them were just old stuff I had no reason to be saving, or were from lists I have signed up for and a ton of articles I emailed myself to review again at a later time. It took a while, but when I finally got my inboxes down to zero, it felt like a huge weight came off me and I could feel my mind clear.

In order to be productive you can’t rely on caffeine, or other stimulants to make you work longer. You need systems, tools, and processes.

My system for email is Microsoft Outlook. I have tried many email clients and still have yet to find one that performs as Outlook does. My process for dealing with mail in my system comes from many places, but is as follows:

  • I use ONE folder for mail storage. I used to be a filer and since I switched to one folder that is conveniently called, “@Archive” my email life has been so much easier. Searching capability in Outlook and other email systems is a hundred times faster than 5 years ago and it just does not make sense to need dozens of folder for storing
  • I have a folder called, “@Action” which contains email I need to act on within the next week or so.
  • I have a folder called, “@Deferred” which contains email I have sent to someone, and for which I need a response to soon. The purpose is to easily be able to follow-up with people.
  • I have a folder called, “@Someday” which contains email I want to act on, but for which there is no pressing time frame.
  • I have another folder called, “To Review” which mostly is articles I have emailed myself, but also might be some list email or something else that I want to review when I have some time.

I have a few pother folders. but they are all temporary. So when I have a big project I am working on, I might have a folder by that project name to keep all my email until the project is over. When it is over the email all goes to the Archive folder and the project folder is is deleted.

I try to keep my inbox down to zero, but it takes diligence. Usually I am on top of it, but this year it slipped. I try to review my folders on a weekly basis during my weekly planning, and process anything I can to keep it clean. That is in addition to my daily planning as well.

The point of this is that keeping your email organized, your desk organized, your computer files organized, and your life organized – will bring greater piece, confidence and success. You will be able to accomplish more, communicate better, and achieve a lot more than you ever thought possible.

Leadership Productivity Through Improved Energy

Leadership ProductivityLeaders, no matter their geographic location, are expected to perform and achieve a lot. Their time is consistently taxed as they try to achieve more in less time. Many leaders fail to do one of the most important things that could help their productivity, and that is to make their health and specifically, exercise, a priority. It is important to exercise several times a week, even when you’re on the road. Exercise gives you the opportunity to relax, clear your mind, and it improves your energy levels so you can get more done.

After a busy day, even when I am tired, I go to the gym and exercise. After my workout, my energy level soars. I a filled with positive energy and my head is clear! With this energy I can spend quality time with my family, rather than going directly home and giving the negative energy of a busy day to my wife.

Exercise is a win-win situation for your business and personal life; that every leader should take seriously.

Studies show that people are more productive when they take part in a regular exercise routine. For most of us, it is difficult to make this happen on a regular basis. But as leaders, it is important to lead by example and to encourage your staff as well. Don’t let the fast and busy life of a leader, manager etc… influence you the wrong way.  By exercising and eating healthy you will feel energetic; and this energy will transfer to your staff, employees, friends, and family.

In my spare time I’m a Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach, and a Martial Arts Teacher. I teach everyone that it is critical to get a balance in their nutrition intake and their physical activity in order to ensure a healthy, productive life – now and in the future. Below I have listed a few easy exercises that a busy leader can do every day Even as little as 15 minutes a day can be hugely beneficial to your health. Something is better than nothing.

  1. One of my favorite and intensive full body exercises is called a burpee.
    1. Begin in a standing position.
    2. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
    3. Extend your feet back in one quick motion to assume the front plank position. (count 2)
    4. Return to the squat position in one quick motion. (count 3)
    5. Return to an upright standing position. (count 4)
  2. Push-ups you can do in several ways, for example: Push-ups with your elbows inside (triceps) and elbows outside (chest). Push-ups use a lot of muscle groups. If you cannot do too many that is OK, start low and keep doing them every day and slowly increasing your count.
  3. Sit-ups you can also do in several ways, for example, knees bent in 90 degrees, 180 degrees and touch your toes. A good one for your core is planking on your lower arms, about 10 cm above the ground. You can also do crunches and leg raises.
  4. Additionally you can do squats, jumping squats, and lunges.

Try to be consistent and spend a little time every day, even if it is only 5 minutes.

One last tip, look for small ways to exercise: Take the stairs instead of the elevator, when you’re walking the dog, take a bigger route. Park farther away from a store entrance, do leg raises under the seat in front of you when on long plan ride.

Just as with any leadership initiative, do it one step at a time.

No more excuses, start today!

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