Life and leadership seems to become more demanding every day. We are expected to go above and beyond in every area. Many leaders are expected to take on more responsibility and work longer hours, often with fewer resources. We are expected to carefully prioritize our family and our health, but still be superstars at work.
We inevitably began to ask ourselves, “How can I possibly get a full night’s sleep when there are so many things to do at work and at home? How can I possibly fit exercise into my schedule when I have to be at work early and when I get home I am worn out and still facing a long list of ‘to-dos’? How can I possibly keep up with hundreds of emails and other demands on my time every day? How can I possibly spend more time with my family when there are so many pressing tasks at hand?”
If you’re like me, you’ve asked yourself these questions many times. You are frequently frustrated by the busyness of life, and struggle to remain productive and to effectively prioritize important tasks. So how do we keep up?
In a short HBR Management Tip Video, Tony Schwartz, the President and CEO of The Energy Project, gives some tips for improving productivity by developing rituals. Schwartz says,
“The real secret to getting things done is to make them more automatic, so they require less energy. We advise the clients we work with to develop something called ‘rituals.’ These are highly specific behaviors done at precise times so that they eventually become automatic and no longer require conscious will or discipline, and therefore don’t deplete your energy reservoir.”
The four tips that Schwartz says have made the biggest difference in his own life are:
- Keep a Specific Bedtime
- Prioritize One Key Task per Day
- List New Ideas and Tasks
- Question Yourself when Triggered
When talking about consistently keeping a specific bedtime, Schwartz says that he makes it a priority to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. For him, nothing is more fundamental or more critical to the way he feels every day.
Effectively prioritizing tasks can be a challenge for all of us; Schwartz explains how he approaches prioritization:
“I start my day by focusing on whatever I’ve decided the night before is the most important activity I can accomplish that day. I force myself to prioritize so I know that I’ll finish at least that one critical task during the period of the day when I have the most energy and the fewest distractions.”
Schwartz goes on to share how he writes down new ideas or tasks that come to mind over the course of the day. By writing them down, he frees himself from feeling preoccupied by those things he needs to remember, enabling him to be more focused and productive.
Schwartz describes how he applies his last strategy, questioning himself when triggered: “I question myself anytime that I feel ‘triggered’ by someone or something. I ask myself, ‘What’s the story that I’m telling, and how can I tell a more hopeful, empowering story about this same set of facts?’”
Do you have specific strategies or rituals that enable you to be a more productive leader in the midst of life’s busyness? Consider applying one or more of these great tips from Tony Schwartz in your own life – if consciously and consistently applied, these rituals could dramatically improve your level of effective leadership!
Schwartz ends by saying,
“A ritual, consciously created, is an expression of fierce intention. Nothing less will do in these demanding and complex times if you’re truly determined to take back control of your life.”
To watch the full video from the HBR Channel, click here.