For most of my career, I operated on auto-pilot, managing technology organizations. Always balancing daily operations with longer-term projects. Constant interruptions. Marathon meetings sucking up prime time. Never having enough time to get it all done.
Last year, I attended the NeuroLeadership Summit in NYC — and it opened my eyes to many simple but powerful tips I’d heard over the years but never taken seriously. Until now.
In his book “Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done,” Josh Davis shares strategies that have made the biggest impact in my own productivity.
Here’s are 5 strategies that have been game changers for me:
1. Decide on Your Top Priorities for Tomorrow
At the end of the day, decide on your top 1 to 3 priorities for tomorrow.
By doing this, you’ll have more brain power at the start of your day to focus on what you want to accomplish.
On the contrary, if you start the day without a clear focus, you’ll waste precious brain power simply deciding on what to work on first!
2. Block Specific Times on Your Calendar
Now, go one step further. Review your schedule for tomorrow and select the specific blocks of time you’ll use to tackle your top priorities.
Be specific. Write your intentions on your calendar.
3. Anticipate Decision Points
After you finish one task and before you start the next one, pause for a few minutes to review your priorities.
Ask yourself, “What can I do next to make progress on today’s priorities?”
Josh Davis refers to these tiny moments as “decision points.”
Imagine you walk into your office at the start of the day and learn that a 2-hour meeting has been cancelled.
How will you put this newly discovered block of time to good use?
By not recognizing this as a valuable “decision point,” you might make the same mistake I’ve always made: defaulting to checking your email. Hanging out in your inbox. Caution: this activity can be a brain drain with little feeling of tangible progress.
4. Reduce Distractions
As you begin working on your highest priority, turn off your phone, shut off email reminders and block out whatever distractions you can.
Honestly, this has been a hard habit to break. After years of responding to critical, time-sensitive issues, I’ve needed to go through detox!
5. Sleep on Important Decisions
Plan your most important decision making for the start of your day.
Throughout the day your brain power is draining down as you make one decision after another.
When an important issue comes up late in the day — and you already feel the brain fog setting in — consider whether it can be postponed to the following morning when you’re fresh.
According to neuroscience, sleeping on it actually helps!
What steps are you taking? What’s making a big difference in YOUR productivity?
Leave a comment below.
I’d love to hear from you!