The Efficient Leader

When I hear people complain about not having enough time in the day, what I really hear them say is “I’m not efficient enough”.  The ability to be efficient is one of the most over looked skills that many great leaders possess – the more time that you can create for yourself, the more of an impact you can have!  In this blog I’ll walk through the top ways I’ve discovered to be efficient from others I admire; many of the top leaders I know literally look at efficiency like a game and are constantly trying to maximize what they can accomplish in a given amount of time.  These efficiency tools apply to everything you do – your career, your personal life, organizations you are involved with, your civic involvement and anything else you can image!

Why Should You Be More Efficient?

  • Saves You Timelets do some simple math here – if you utilize the right tools and save yourself an hour per workday that is roughly 250 hours per year or 5+ work weeks…  how nice would it be to have 5 extra weeks to relax or accomplish more?  Realistically the tools below will save you more than that, so plan on having what will feel like an extra 10+ weeks per year to do whatever you want!
  • Helps You Make a Greater Impactwith the additional time you create, you can have an additional impact on whatever you care about – career, family, friends, community, etc…  great leaders are constantly looking for ways to have a greater impact on the things they care about.
  • Lowers Your Stress Levelas you incorporate efficiency into everything you do, you are also removing the clutter from your life…  this can by physical clutter (like a stack of paperwork) or digital clutter (like a full email inbox).  Clutter is a negative stresser and adds a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress into your daily life, which sucks the energy right from you!

Below are some of the key areas that leaders are efficient with, the purpose behind its importance and the tool I personally use:

Daily Planning:  if you are waking up in the morning without a detailed plan, you are already being inefficient.  At the very least, you should have a list of times for meetings/calls you have and a prioritized task list of what you need to accomplish for the day. (Favorite Tool:  Apple Notes)

Email Management:  by far the best method for email management that I’ve ever seen is called “Do It, Delegate It or Defer It” which means you can immediately respond, immediately delegate it to the appropriate person or defer it so that it shows up back in your inbox at a set time in the future.  This allows you to have an empty inbox at the end of each day, tackle pressing issues immediately, delegate stuff you shouldn’t be doing and differing non-pressing items to the time in the future they need to be done. (Favorite Tool:  Mail Butler)

Task Management:  rather than jamming up your calendar with tasks, having sticky notes everywhere or just a long list of items you need to accomplish, the best thing is to have a task management program where you can prioritize based on due dates, categories, set repeatable daily/weekly/monthly/yearly tasks and much more! (Favorite Tool:  Todoist)

Project Management:  working on complex projects by yourself, and especially with a team of people, can be a nightmare so you want to have a process-oriented project management tool where you can lay out a clear process, easily share files, comment on specific items, communicate with others and other key project tasks all in one central place that is accessible on your computer, tablet and phone. (Favorite Tool:  Trello)

Outsourcing:  why spend all day trying to do something that will turn out mediocre when you can find someone online to quickly do a great job at a reasonable cost?  Outsourcing tasks such as data gathering, research, graphic design, grammar editing and much more will save you a ton of time and create better results for you and whoever you work with. (Favorite Tool:  Upwork)

Mobility:  efficient leaders are able to continue being productive in any setting, including riding on a subway, flying on a plane, driving their car, sitting in a coffee shop without WiFi or anywhere else they might find themselves.  Make sure to have a computer/phone/tablet that all seamlessly connect to each other and add the best productivity apps you can find.  In addition to the ones above, I love listening to podcasts and audio books on Audible because you can be learning a ton on the go rather than sitting around reading to learn, spend that time doing something else! (Favorite Tool:  Apple iPhone, MacBook Air & iPad Pro – anything modified on one device automatically syncs with other two, such as calendar, email, tasks, apps, etc)

Please Note: Fitness & Nutrition are also critical for leaders, however both are highly dependent on your age, current shape, fitness goals, travel schedule, daily activities and many other factors.  For the same reasons as the areas above, you should be looking at how you can accomplish the best fitness results efficiently and how you can have a well-balanced diet efficiently.  I’d spend time on Google searching for efficient workouts based on your goals and efficient ways to eat healthy that are reasonable given your daily schedule.

If you have any questions about these or want to discuss them further just shoot me an email at tom@tom-healy.com, I’m always happy to help!  Also, feel free to browse around this website to learn how I help students and professionals thrive as leaders.

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