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Get Productive: Execute like a CEO

Be the Chief EXECUTION Officer (CEO) for your business, practice, firm or organization!

If you want to be more strategic and contribute to your personal and professional success you need to have the mindset of execution.

Productivity is about implementation and execution.

The word execute means to ‘carry out or to perform’ and it derives from Latin exsequi, "carry out, follow up; punish."  As leaders within our companies we don’t want to punish however we need to have the reputation as someone who performs.

Here are 5 strategies to accelerate your productivity and build your reputation as a leader who executes:

15-minute rule – what can you do in 15 minutes that will get you closer to the achievement of your goals? Consider focusing on actions for 15 minutes i.e. answer email, host a 1:1 with one of your leaders, host a standing meeting (yes make everyone stand up), limit calls to just 15 minutes. No one has an hour anymore; the key is to take action in 15-minute increments.

Cancel meetings – yes you read this right! If you are having meetings because you have the same meeting week after week – stop! Unless you have a strong agenda and a reason to invest everyone’s time, cancel your meeting. If you can’t cancel, reduce the meeting time by half?

Pay attention – you frustrate your team when you are constantly distracted by your email and don’t show others respect. Distraction is disrespectful. The biggest investment you can make in someone is your undivided (NOT multi-tasked) attention. Look people in the eyes, put down your iPhone/Blackberry (whatever your drug of choice) and require your team to do the same.

Choose three strategies – focus your attention on your top three deliverables. Make sure your strategies are repeatable (others can share them throughout the organization), relatable (others understand how it affects them) and recognizable (others can see the impact of those strategies). As a leader your role is to focus on strategies you can execute!

Disconnect – take breaks from technology, remove yourself from your email and the minutia that is draining your focus and energy. As the leader invest in the contextual deliverables, the big picture, the strategy – that’s it! Leave the details to those around you to execute.

Want to increase the productivity of your team? Lead by example, stop interfering and allow others to step into their brilliance by empowering them to execute the details of the strategies you create. Now that’s productive!

What are your ideas on how you can be a better CEO (Chief Execution Officer)? Share your ideas with us here on our blog.

PS. If you want more ideas on how to increase your productivity – check out other blogs here and several eBooks you can share with your team


Make time in time: Clever creates capacity

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione carried a time-turner. This hourglass pendant on a necklace allowed her to travel through time and be in two places at once. Each turn of the hourglass equaled one hour of time. It was essential in using this time-turner that she never be seen by her past or future version of herself, unless of course she was aware she was using the time- turner. This allowed her to attend multiple classes at the same time and accelerate her schooling. Oh some days how I wish I had Hermione’s time-turner! 

As we don’t have access to this piece of jewelry, we need to make time in time. We can cleverly use aspects of time to increase capacity by applying several strategies.

Combine activities - Carry a reading file with you so you can always read journals, magazines or best selling books while waiting at your doctor’s office or for the kids to finish their sporting activity.

Walk and Talk - while you walk from one office building to the next, consider inviting someone to join you.

Early in my career I was employed by a large Australian bank, I worked for an amazingly successful women Barbara Woodworth.   Barbara was the queen of making time in time.  Her busy calendar required walking between our office and corporate headoffice, which was connected by an underground tunnel. Often we would walk and talk to accelerate project process, share learning’s from internal clients and agree on action steps for marketing initiatives. In those ten-minute walk and talks I sometimes felt like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as Barb and I scurried back and forth but we sure did accomplish a lot during those times!

Leverage mentor time – Never underestimate the power of making time in time with people you want to learn from.   I once attended a haircut with my mentor because it was the only time he had available that day and he wasn’t going to be doing anything but sitting in a chair patiently allowing his hairdresser to work his magic – we scoped out a complete project during that 30 minute haircut. Meet your mentor where they are at to maximize time. 

Use elevators - While my friend and thought leader Rory Vaden might disagree with me, (his fabulous book about self discipline, Take the Stairs recommends avoiding the elevator), using your time in the elevator ride is productive: collect your thoughts, silence your cell before the meeting and conduct a 30 second check on your appearance: pop in a breath mint, straighten your outfit, check your hair and make up, apply lipstick and adjust jewelry.  Gentleman, you might need less than 30 seconds to adjust your tie?

Making time in time is an important skill: leverage all moments you have in a day to increase your capacity for completion – what can you do to make time in time? We’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them here on our blog.

PS. Want a great resource for focusing your time and mastering distractions? We suggest reading Peter Bregman’s book 18 minutes – available here.




Organize and systemize: systems create freedom - clutter causes captivity

According to the Wall Street Journal the average US Executive wastes 6 weeks per year searching for missing information on messy desks, that is nearly an hour a day! It is estimated this is costing employers between $4000 - $8,125 per employee each year – yikes!

To increase your productivity at work (and home) you need to organize and systemize.

It’s not about shuffling papers, making bigger piles or doing the occasional ‘spring clean’. Getting organized is very leveraged – clean once, use often!

Take a quick sneak peek at your desk right now… what signals does it send to your co-workers? Do you look organized, professional … in control? … OR… do you look like a hot mess? Your workspace is an unconscious message to your team about how organized and systemized you are on a daily basis. 

To get great ideas on this topic we turned to our favorite fabulous professional organizer Laurie Palau from simply b organized for great advice:

  • Make use of vertical wall space - hanging inboxes for important folders are clears up valuable desk space allowing you to work in a clean and undistracted workspace.
  • Separate action or reference to items that come across your desk.  i.e. a report you need to work on, place it in your action file, however if it's a report you need to keep because you need to refer to it later, belongs in the reference file.
  • Store papers vertically as opposed to as a pile on your desk.  It allows for easy referencing and reduces the chances of something important being misplaced.
  • Create an electronic filing system eliminating unnecessary clutter on your desk. Added bonus: it takes a fraction of the time to locate electronic documents as opposed to sorting through piles of papers.

We would add that investing 15 minutes organizing your workspace today will make you feel more productive.

Quick 15 minute clean: Set your alarm… ready, set go - In 15 minutes create a system for incoming paper, consider introducing step file holders for visual recognition, remove all unnecessary stationery from your desk top and throw away all trash.  Voila… it only takes 15 minutes to create a system and will save you hours each day!

Here are some additional statistics to scare you into getting organized:

  • 1 in 11 American households rents self-storage space spending an average of $1,000 per year in rent. Did you know the self-storage industry is a $154 Billion dollar per year industry – crazy!
  • The US Department of Energy reports that 25% of people with 2-car garages have so much stuff there isn’t room to park their cars!
  • 30% of people have lost an important document due to a messy desk.
  • 47%of people state that disorganization commonly leads to lost time. 
  • 16% say that disorganization leads to meeting tardiness.
  • 14% say that a messy desk leads to a missed deadline.
  • People spend 6 minutes on average each day looking for their keys!

Getting organized is about creating small systems that will allow you to have massive impact. What is one system you could create today that would help you feel more organized, save you time… and potentially save you money!

We would love to hear your thoughts and your ideas. Share them with us on our blog

Now that’s productive!





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