To operate at your best at an executive level, you’ll likely need to break some old habits.
Here are the top 6 effectiveness killers along with 6 unbelievably simple solutions:
1. Checking email obsessively. We have people like Steve Jobs to thank for both the joy and nightmare of mobile technology. The nightmare is that ever-connectedness easily leads to email addiction, pulling your energy and attention away from more vital work. Unbelievably Simple Solution: Close your email application while you’re working. Check it once every hour or two ... then close it again. I promise you, the world will not end.
2. Task avoidance. When a challenging or unpleasant task is on your priority list, you waste time surfing the web, having unimportant conversations, making tea ... anything to delay. Unbelievably Simple Solution: Move on to something else productive. Inevitably, you will muster the energy for the unwanted task later or (if appropriate) find an opportunity to delegate it. Don’t let it defeat you by halting all productivity.
3. Disorganized workspace. It’s far more difficult to be effective when you’re working amidst chaos. It’s impossible to have a clear mind. Unbelievably Simple Solution: Seek help from an organizational wizard. Maybe it’s your assistant or someone else on your team. Maybe you need to contract an expert. Get someone who loves organization to create a system for you and teach you to use it. You may need a monthly or quarterly visit from them to keep yourself in check.
4. The inability to say ‘no.’ It’s not your job to solve everyone else’s problems or take on every task that comes your way. Unbelievably Simple Solution: There’s no way around this one. You need to learn to say ‘no.’ Start by learning to say, ‘I hear what you’re saying, let me get back to you about this when I’ve had some time to think it through.’
5. Multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is evil. It feels productive because you’re highly occupied but it’s really a time-waster. Nothing gets done as efficiently or as well as it would if you focused on one thing at a time. Unbelievably Simple Solution: Focus on one thing for at least 45 minutes to an hour at a time (or less if it’s complete sooner). Every initiative deserves 100% of your attention some of the time.
6. Firefighting: The quickest solution to a problem is not necessarily the best solution. Jumping to conclusions and rushing to action will lead you down a rabbit hole.
Unbelievably Simple Solution: Take a moment to breathe. Instead of rushing to the nearest solution, take the time to properly diagnose the situation. Don’t let people hurry or pressure you. Give yourself the time to assess the urgency of the situation. Find the smartest solution rather than the fastest.