Reading time: 4 minutes


In today’s frenetic business environment most managers are expected to do more with less and at speed. Not the easiest of tasks when it appears there are distractions at every corner.

Last week I was talking to a new participant on one of our leadership programmes and the subject of productivity came up. He told me that he was regularly working on four to five projects at once while managing another half a dozen team members.

A common story and not ideal when it comes to developing a high performing senior leader.

We all have our own ideas on how to ‘be’ more productive, here are 3 simple strategies that always deliver results.

1. Have a documented plan


I know this might seem old school and yet it works.

Many people mistakenly believe that being productive means always being busy and getting things done. They believe that constantly taking action and not allowing time for reflection and review is the best way to be productive.

Unfortunately, this misconception often has the opposite impact on managers. Instead of getting more done, they get less done. Instead of acting with a clear mind, they act from a place of chaos. Efficiency gets lost along the way.

Why? Because they aren’t doing the pre-work that must come before the action steps happen. Simply put, they aren’t planning properly.

Better to at least start the week with a plan that you can focus on rather than bouncing from one thing to the next and reacting to whatever email drops in your inbox.

One medical science manager I know has a Friday end of the week meeting with himself.

He reviews what he has achieved, what were his learning’s and what are the three big things he needed to achieve the following week. This gives him structure and a real focus about what now needed to be his focus for the coming week.

2. Email management

Business concept: Silver Email on digital background

A few years ago there was a trend that suggested only looking at your emails once or at a push, twice a day. Great idea though not particularly practical in the corporate setting in which many of us operate.

An alternative action, to remove at least some of the stress, is organisation, rules and folders.

Whether you are an Outlook365 boy or girl or a Google Apps geek there are multiple ways to store file and retrieve emails that will help to relieve your anxiety.

You may or may not have access to admin support that can do this for you. If you do, great. If not bite the bullet and just do it. You will be surprised how fast you can get things organised. There is a great book called; how to be a productivity ninja that has some excellent advice on how to do this fast.

3. Rituals

shutterstock_386674582Though planning and email management might be familiar solutions we forget to use, creating rituals is a new kid on the block.

Having rituals in your life works. A strange word maybe, only it appropriately describes what I am about to share in a practical way.

Rituals are an age-old concept that we have all used or experienced at certain times of our life.

For those of you with children, you will know the benefit of the ‘rituals’ or habits you have put into place. Food at a certain time, baths, playtime, ‘electronic time’ etc.

It works and as human beings, we are genetically wired that way; yes even as adults.

A great ritual could be how often you review projects or talk to the team?

Rituals help us manage energy rather than time which in turn helps us to be more productive.

Tony Schwartz in his New York Times bestseller, The Power of Full Engagement talks about the fact that we live in digital time. Our pace is rushed, rapid-fire, and relentless.

Facing crushing workloads, we try to cram as much as possible into every day. We’re wired up, but we’re melting down. Time management is no longer a viable solution. It’s time to manage our energy as it’s the key to enduring high performance and rituals are a perfect way to make this happen.


Rachel Hewitt-Hall

Are your managers using the right style of coaching for their team members? If not we can probably help through our Coaching for Performance programme.

At Excel Communications we have delivered Leadership and Management training over 30 years on most continents in multiple languages. You can view the results we get for clients here. Alternatively call us on +44 (0) 1628 488 854