Over the last several years working with Bay Area CEOs and with members of the Exkalibur Leadership Forum, I’ve learned that personal productivity improvements are one of the most important ways in which CEOs can find more time to focus on the things that really matter, and that only the CEO can do. Peter Drucker, noted business author; A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble; and others have focused extensively on what only the CEO can do. As I’ve watched CEOs struggle to spend enough time on their most important initiatives, I’ve worked hard to learn as much as I can to adapt powerful productivity ideas to help business leaders gain control and perspective over everything they care about. Every Thursday, I’ll share these VERY PRACTICAL PRODUCTIVITY TIPS to help you improve your own results in 2011. Why not sign up today so you don’t miss any of these great tips?
During the holidays, I sat down with a client over a chilled martini … 3 olives, thank you. She was lamenting the limited progress she had achieved during 2010 on the seemingly endless list of projects she tried to tackle. Most of them were overdue or barely out of the gates. Her desk was littered with good intentions turned to stalled initiatives with little hope of an early resolution.
She had achieved only limited progress on her number one goal for the year. Yet, as we discussed several of the specific projects, she knew exactly what needed to be done … her reasoning was sound … but it was the unyielding demands of all of them, each of which she thought was as important as the previous one, that was keeping her from the success she was seeking.
As we launch a weekly series … every Thursday … on Personal Productivity, I’m convinced of one thing if nothing else: Without a trusted system that provides timely reminders about everything in our life we care about, we’re not going to get the right things done at the right time. If that system leaks like a sieve and holds only some of the things we have to do … with everything else scattered about in various files, piles and miscellany … if we haven’t taken a full inventory to collect in one place everything that requires our attention … we don’t stand a chance.
This same executive was also telling me that she doesn’t have that much to keep track of … she has an assistant and teams and lieutenants …. Yet, when we started to list all of the things important to her … friends, extended family, old friends, neighbors, school moms … and that’s just the beginning of the people list … and the PTA, Red Cross, MADD … oh, yeah, kids, husband, Mom, sister … did I mention work? … a languishing product launch, the struggling contracting division, a failing marketing director … the list was so long she became exhausted just thinking about it.
As we continued our conversation, she was struck by the realization of how much she was missing … “meant to send my sister a birthday card but … missed Adam’s soccer game that I promised I’d attend … because I had to
finish start a report due tomorrow … and forgot I was supposed to bring dessert to the PTA meeting to which I was 20 minutes late” … I think you get the picture.
At the root of these problems is the absence of a trusted system to keep track of all things that are important in our demanding and bountiful lives … business, personal, school, family, community, neighborhood, hobbies, etc. Most of us have passionate interests in all of those areas … and then some … and while none one of those issues, tasks or projects requires our attention every minute, we still need to stay on top of the things people from expect from us …and most importantly, what we expect from ourselves.
So, I find myself spending more time learning about and discussing personal productivity than ever. Last year at this time, in the Power of Personal Accountability, I reminded us that personal accountability is also the foundation of a can-do culture where people “own” what needs to be done.
Many of you are running businesses or important segments of them. You’re probably pretty clear about what needs to be done and may even have established a working plan for the coming year. I’ll also bet that when you look over your success in achieving your top 3 goals, you’re disappointed with the results for many of these same reasons. Instead of creating our own fires, we’re running from pillar to post trying to put out fires.
There’s only one YOU so what YOU do is critical
As many of you know, I am an avid proponent of David Allen’s Getting Things Done principles – GTD for short. It is the first approach I’ve found in over 35 years that delivers a comprehensive program to gain control and perspective over all of the things which we care about in our complex lives.
But regardless of whether you’re a GTD fan or never heard of it … no matter what system or methodology works for you … you can improve your personal productivity. As you do, you’ll become better equipped to deal with the raging river of demands coming at you from every direction … and enjoy a level of stress-free productivity and achievement that can truly change your life.
In the coming weeks, we’ll explore some of these approaches and ideas … and even if you aren’t ready to join the GTD universe, these tips, techniques and tricks will help you get more done … to be able to devote more time to those things that only you can do in whatever universe you choose … as a business leader, CEO, mother/father or spouse. We’ll discuss tips for organizing electronic files as well as paper files, and I’ll share some of the tools available to help you conquer digital and paper clutter. A comprehensive personal productivity program will reward you with even greater success in 2011, so why not subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss any of these weekly tips as you build your own guide to personal productivity?
There’s only one of each of us in the universe … so if we can optimize the use of that most precious resource of all … OUR time … each of us will get to do more of the things that fulfill our lives and ambitions and enrich our families and our community.
Are you with me?