Promoted to management 10 years ago, Leon Ho decided the best way to improve his productivity was to read the top books available. In total, he has delved into 100 books, and from them catalogued 15 elements to being efficient and effective, which he shares on Lifehack, the site he founded:
- Don’t wait for others to set your deadlines; set them for yourself. In school, deadlines are handed to us. But when we enter the world of work, it isn’t the same. “Successful people don’t wait, they set deadlines for their personal goals. While meeting external deadlines (those that are given to you) helps you to survive and meet the bare minimum, internal deadlines (those that you give yourself) make you push through your boundaries. The key is to be proactive, not passive,” he says.
- Keep track of your time like you do your bank account: Time is money. But while you can always earn more money you can’t retrieve wasted time. Watch your time as carefully as your money.
- Don’t focus on your weaknesses – work on your strengths instead: If you focus on strengths, your growth can be exponential. Make that your primary focus and, indeed, try to use strengths to turn weaknesses into an asset.
- Rank tasks by importance, not the order you received them: Regularly prioritize your tasks and tackle the vital ones first.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew: Taking on too much at once can be discouraging. Break down big tasks into smaller, more digestible chunks.
- Delegate: smart people know when to hand off tasks. “Recognize which tasks can be passed on to others so that you can focus on more challenging and important tasks,” he writes.
- Use your brain for thinking, not remembering: Trying to remember too many things just taxes the brain. Use your phones, notebooks and other tools to write down important stuff rather than trying to keep it all in your memory.
- Review your productivity at the end of the day: Take time each day to reflect on what was accomplished. Four questions he suggests: What have I done well? What have I done poorly? Why did some things not work out as planned? How can I do better tomorrow? “When we don’t reflect, we rely only on natural growth. Successful people concentrate on deliberate practice, where they actively identify and focus on things to improve. Even if you feel that you’ve done a job well done, still consider what could be done in terms of improvement. There is always something!” he says.
- Sometimes cutting tasks is better than adding them: Cut the clutter, be it tasks or folders on your computer. Don’t only add. Subtract from time to time.
- Estimate time on your tasks: Neglecting to estimate your time can cause you to waste effort since you don’t have a deadline you are working towards or a goal of how much time to spend on the task.
- Stretch your creativity no matter what your job is: We need a bit of creativity for every task that we complete, no matter how mundane it may seem. Consider everything you do as presenting scope for creativity.
- Know when to stop: Tasks tend to devalue over time. Know when your productivity is diminishing on a project and it’s time to re-evaluate your game plan and perhaps move on.
- Always assume you don’t know as much as you think you know: Don’t become arrogant. Stay humble. Keep learning. There is always more to know.
- Identify your instant gratification and ditch it: If you keep hearing you’re doing a great job, you may become so confident you stop trying to do any more. Watch for such triggers, moments that provide so much gratification they prevent you from digging deeper.
- Start with the big picture and work down to the details: Don’t work mindlessly. Know how everything you do fits into the larger scheme of things.
You have probably heard many of those tips already. But you may be forgetting more than a few as you hurry through your day. Keep the compendium in mind, today and tomorrow.
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
JULY 28, 2017