4 ways to be more productive: Tips for busy, effective leaders

May 24, 2017Leadership

The powerful benefits of planning and organising for effective leaders


In case you haven’t already heard, we launched The Complete Leader programme here in Ireland with a hugely successful seminar with Ron Price and Padraig Berry. We are really excited to start working with our first public cohort in June.

futuristic thinking skills

In this week’s blog, we’re covering planning and organising, one of the key competencies of effective leaders under the heading ‘leaders are clear thinkers’. This was one of the competencies that our seminar guests told us that they would like to work on.

So, what is planning and organising all about? The Complete Leader defines this competency as the ability to use logical, systematic and orderly procedures to meet objectives and goals.

By working on this competency and committing yourself to developing it, you will find it much easier to get clear on your vision, to set goals and bring people on board.

Not sure if this is something you need to work on? Ron Fehrer from The Complete Leader recommends that you think back over your past history.

Have you had a good track record with planning and organising? Ask people around you for feedback. If you were one of your followers, how would you rate yourself out of ten?

Regardless of whether you’re skilled at this competency or if it’s something that you need to develop, planning and organising is a skill that, if developed and worked on, will greatly enhance your capacity as a leader.


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What does a skilled planner and organiser look like?


This doesn’t come easy for many people, but it can be one of the key differentiators between effective leadership and leadership that isn’t so effective.

How can you expect people to follow you when you aren’t organised, you don’t know where you’re going and you have no plan for how you’re going to get there?

According to The Complete Leader, people who are great at planning and organising can prioritise tasks, use efficient and practical approaches, anticipate possible outcomes and risks and develop new systems and procedures. They can visualise the steps needed to take to achieve their goal.

This allows for clear communication of goals and visions, better team engagement and identified due dates.

People with poor planning and organisation skills might move too quickly without thinking things through, or they may procrastinate because the steps are not clear.

Projects that are not adequately planned can waste precious time and resources, lower morale and reduce the chance of success.

As Brent Patmos from The Complete Leader put it, planning and organising skills are really the foundation of Clear Thinking, because they allow effective leaders to structure how they’re going to do something.

Poor planning and organising skills are reflected in inappropriate action and inappropriate strategies.


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How can I improve my planning and organising skills?


If you want to improve your planning and organising skills, put the tips below into practice.


#1: Start by developing your business Hedgehog


The first, most essential step in planning and organising is to make sure you’re planning for the right things. You must first first understand your “Why” and “How”, and then focus on the “What”.

The most productive people start with purpose and use it like a compass. A life lived on purpose is the most powerful of all –– and the happiest. Working on your Hedgehog will bring meaning and purpose to your everyday actions.

By developing your business Hedgehog, you will discover that place where your company’s passion and talent combine to solve an economic driver problem.


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If you would like to download your free personal copy of the Hedgehog workbook, complete with exercises to help you along the way, come visit us at ONEFocus.


#2: Identify your priority


Once you have identified your Hedgehog, set a future goal and line up your dominoes by writing down the steps you will need to take towards your goal. Then ask yourself, what’s the ONEThing I can do, right now, to take me closer towards my goal?

How can you connect your goal over time to bring you to the most important thing you must do right now? It’s about thinking big, but going small. You can find out more by watching these ONEThing Planning videos.

Identifying your priority allows you to become more productive. The most successful people are the most productive people. They use their time well on the things that actually matter – the things that will bring them closer towards their goal.


#3: Time block your ONE Thing


To improve your planning skills and become a more effective leader, schedule time into your diary, like a meeting, where you will work on the things that really matter.

Put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door and make a date with your goal. If it’s a regular thing that you want to work on, block off the time each day so that it eventually becomes a habit. Don’t let yourself become distracted by emails or anything else. Put the time into what’s going to bring about the biggest and best results for your life and your business.


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A good idea is to schedule your ONE Thing for the morning. Try to achieve your one before one! Get it done before lunch time and then give time to everything else that requires your attention. This allows you to keep your focus on what matters most, and to get it done before you can make excuses for all the other things that are trying to distract you.

For more on productivity, we recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. He provides some great exercises and fantastic insights into how you can take action for productivity.

He encourages putting all tasks into a logical system, disciplining yourself to make decisions about inputs you let into your life, and keeping reminders of actions you need to take into an organised system.


#4: Plan and organise appropriately


If you want to successfully plan and organise, choose a method that works for your organisation or project.

Plan for longer term success at regular intervals – quarterly, annual, or even longer – and analyse your SLOTs (Strengths, Limitations, Opportunities and Threats) before taking steps.

Use your monthly goals to connect you to your big goals, and keep them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

For your weekly planning, Ron Price recommends scheduling the most important tasks first and labelling your goals, tasks and appointments as:

A = critical to survival

B = important to long-term success

C = some limited importance (including short-term)

D = no or unknown importance

When it comes to daily planning, write down your tasks for the day each morning. Be realistic and prioritise.

There are lots of great apps out there that can help you organise and plan your life to become more effective. Try them out and find one that works for you.


Final thoughts…


As Rockefeller once said, “Do not many of us who fail to achieve big things … fail because we lack concentration — the art of concentrating the mind on the thing to be done at the proper time and to the exclusion of everything else?”

Planning and organising skills are critical to clear thinking and to true success.

If you would like to improve your planning and organising skills, start by identifying your Hedgehog. Focus on your “Why” and “How”, and then get to work on what needs to be done. Download Padraig Berry’s free workbook here.

Identify your priority. What’s the ONE Thing you can do right now to move you closer to your goals?

Schedule your ONE Thing like a meeting. A good idea is to time block it and aim to get it done with no distractions by 1pm. Everything else can wait.

Plan and organise appropriately for long term planning, monthly planning, weekly planning and daily planning.

Planning and organising is essential for effective leaders who want to be clear thinkers. Creating plans that work can really help team members stay accountable and keeps projects on track.

On a more personal note, getting good at planning and organising as a leader can lead to a more satisfying life with no regrets. Life is too short to pile up woulda, coulda, shouldas. Put yourself together and watch how the world falls into place around you.

Could you use a leadership community to assist you on your journey? We are the founders of the Complete Leadership Ireland LinkedIn group, which is full of great resources and discussion to help you become a more effective leader. We would love to have you as part of the community.

If you would like to learn more about The Complete Leader programme Ireland, which is also run as an internal programme, click here.

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

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