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4 Productivity Hacks You’ve Never Heard Of

Most professionals believe their productivity is the result of the amount of tasks they completed over a certain period of time. This belief is reflected in the productivity tips they choose to practice, which are almost always centered on time management and are task-oriented rather than process-oriented.

Whether they “eat the frog” and do the longest task first or subscribe to the Ivy Lee Method and do the most important task first, professionals are approaching productivity from a microscopic level when they should be taking a macro view.

Here’s what we mean: From reviewing the work of notable productivity experts, we see that productivity isn’t a simple redistribution of time. We must review our work processes and develop skills around delegation, stress management, decision-making, and organization if we are ever to achieve maximum productivity.

  1. Delegate tasks you’re good at

Brian Tracy, author of Delegation & Supervision, offers up an unconventional productivity hack when he proposes his 70 percent rule, which says the more proficient you are at something, the sooner you should assign it to a staff member.

“Our natural tendency is to fall into the habit of doing the jobs that we enjoy, the jobs that got us to where we are today, and then keeping these jobs for ourselves,” Tracy says. “Instead, you should delegate the tasks that you have mastered so that you can get on to tasks that require greater intelligence, skill, and ability.”


  1. Practice “healthy detachment”

Sharon Melnick is a business psychologist who advocates for those who want to remain successful even through stress. With 8 in 10 adults revealing to the American Psychological Association that the pandemic has represented a great stress in their lives, it’s clear that Melnick’s concept of “healthy detachment” has become a necessary productivity practice.

Other appropriate situations for healthy detachment include:

  • When your organization is undergoing change and you need to tolerate current conditions temporarily
  • When you have a difficult boss, colleague or business partner, but aren’t yet in a position to change roles
  • When you can’t influence a political conflict, but are subject to its outcomes.

With healthy detachment, you continue to be engaged and make your best contribution, but you don’t allow the outcome of your efforts to determine your internal state.

You choose only battles that are worth your time and energy, and you draw a line: Which negative impacts will you accept and which will you not? Be sure to keep on the “healthy side” of that line.

  1. Make group decisions faster

Another crucial skill for leaders to focus on as they look to improve their productivity is decision-making.

Studies have shown that the average person makes a routine decision in 10 minutes. But another study estimated we make at least 35,000 conscious decisions each day.

That means we could potentially be making 243 days of decisions every day.

Of course there are different types of decisions, and choosing between chocolate and vanilla ice cream at the grocery store has far fewer stakes than choosing to take on another client or switching to a new point-of-sale system.

But it’s clear that analysis can occupy a large part of our day if we don’t learn how to make decisions quickly among ourselves and others.

Don Maruska, author of How Great Decisions Get Made, says the decisions that take up most of our time are the decisions we make with others. That’s why he developed a 30-minute miracle technique for making quick decisions with a group without falling victim to false starts, dead ends, and painful regrouping.

The pillars of this exercise include getting everyone whose opinion is relevant to the decision in one room, discovering shared hopes for the outcome of whatever decision is made, and identifying options that will get the group closest to realizing their shared hope.  

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  1. Declutter your workspace

Certified professional organizers (CPOs) may be motivated by aesthetics, but their efforts have a massive impact on the productivity of their clients. CPO Tamara Myles wrote a book on reaching peak productivity where she discusses the idea of having an organizing system for the paper that comes into your home.

Now that most of us are working from home, we’ve probably come face-to-face with a bevy of direct mail that’s now cluttering our office space.

Although Myles acknowledges there is no one-size-fits-all decluttering solution, she argues that every paper that comes into your office will fall into three categories:

  1. You’re going to shred or recycle the paper.
  2. It’s a document that requires some type of action, such as a bill to pay, an RSVP to mail, or a form to fill out.
  3. It’s something that you have to keep, either for legal reasons or because you might need to refer to it.

That’s why her workspace organization process has 3 steps to help you physically organize your papers: to toss, to do, and to keep.  

Hasn’t every leader tried every productivity hack in the book to get more done in less time? 

Leadership Essentials was designed to help busy professionals do just that: when you’re working 40, 50, or 60+ hour weeks, you shouldn’t have to go to a dozen different websites to get leadership development advice, strategies, and resources.

You should be able to find everything you need to become a better manager, grow a stronger business, and design the career you want in one place. That’s why we’ll always deliver carefully curated leadership insights to you, including our most highly-reviewed books on productivity.

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