10 Moves To Boost Your Productivity in 2021 (Part 1)
As we begin the new year, you might be wondering what you’re going to change in the way you lead and work in 2021. This article is designed to help you do that. Last year, in our work with some 600 leaders, we identified a mix of personal and team-based ‘moves’ you can make to amplify your individual and collective productivity in the year ahead.
Move 1 – Strive For 8 Hours Sleep Per Night
Productivity is a function of mental clarity and one of the best means of attaining clear thinking is to ensure you get 8 hours of sleep in the evening.
In our work, we say that continuous learning is a fundamental orientation for leaders in a disrupted world. Sleep is instrumental in establishing conditions for this aspiration. Sleep allows your mind to recharge, your body to remain healthy and restore the immune system, and your brain to function properly, concentrate and process memories.
Establishing a great sleep habit can be a complex quest if you’ve fallen into less helpful habits, or have become accustomed to less sleep, poor sleep or disrupted sleep.
In order to begin crafting a more helpful sleeping pattern, consider these tips:
- Begin a digital wind-down several hours before bed. Digital devices at bedtime can delay the production of melatonin, increase general alertness by stimulating the brain and push back the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Try avoiding screens for a couple of hours before bed – perhaps consider using devices up to 8 pm and then replace devices with a book, an audio podcast or another non-screen activity.
- Practice mindfulness. Often, it’s our concerns and worries that keep us awake in the evening. Mindfulness can support you to reduce the body’s stress response and develop a different relationship with the things that arise as concerns.
- Get your household on board. Those you live with can be a significant influence on sleep patterns. You might consider engaging everyone in the household in a conversation where you can encourage and support better sleep habits. This might be the kind of foods you choose to prepare ahead of bed, reducing the amount of alcohol you consume, making a commitment to place phones in a location that is NOT the bedroom, using ‘digital clocks’ as alarms rather than phones and making effective transitions to bed that feel like ‘quiet time’.
Move 2 – Get Clear On Your Why
There’s no doubt that being connected to your purpose and passion is an ultimate enabler of productivity. This does not mean you need to ‘own the business’ but have a sense of why you do the job you do.
You may be aware of the 1962 story where President John F. Kennedy visited NASA and during his tour of the facility met a janitor who was carrying a broom down the hallway.
The President asked the janitor what he did for NASA, and the janitor replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”
This same sense of connection to cause can be the force that drives you on days where you experience challenge and disruption and where you need to ‘dig deep’ and carry on. Being connected to purpose can motivate you to ‘show up’ to others in a constructive mood and mindset, and as a leader, this is both a responsibility and possibility you can choose each day. To get clear on your why, try these three tips:
- Create a why statement. This for some is a Mission Statement. Why is it you do what you do? This need not be heroic. For some, it may be to pay the bills. But who are you paying them for, and why? Are you offering your children the chance of a better life? Are you supporting those you love to pursue their dreams? If you do own or lead a business, then this is critical. At Liberated Leaders and Resource Advisory, mission is to create workplaces as places were people thrive. That means when we experience challenges, we understand that’s inherent in our work – it IS why we exist, so we can approach the situations with resolve. What’s your mission?
- Continue to refine your why. As you grow and change it’s normal that your why changes. It can be helpful to invest time in reflecting on ‘the being you’re becoming’ and what most inspires you. Consider refining this by exploring your passions, understanding when you feel at your creative best and asking what aspects of your current practice you’d like to develop and enhance in the future. It can be equally helpful to identify what aspects of your ‘work’ seem to offer less energy and inspiration. Then, redefine your why.
- If you’re in a slump, change! For those of you that do not feel connected to your why, consider a massive overhaul. It can be easy to slip into resignation and despair if you’re not inspired or connected to ‘what you do’ so instead, make a plan out of the place you’re in. Consider one of these Programs to help you get started… https://www.passionmaps.com/courses/personal-passion-mapping/
Move 3 – Express & Clear Your Concerns
The capacity and skill to identify and express your concerns is a key skill for boosting productivity. Imagine being able to clarify your concerns and express them in a way that others understand and can renegotiate outcomes with you at real time! Having the capacity to do this, saves the time you invest in repeatedly thinking about the issue, avoiding the issue, feeling upset or resentful, or anxious about a future outcome. There are a whole host of skills and practices required in order to effectively do this.
We suggest you start with these three tips:
- Clarify your concern. Next time an issue comes up, begin to identify the essential nature of your concern. What concerns you? What is at stake for you? What is missing for you? What standards of yours have not been met? Once you do this, it is easier to isolate the issue.
- Clarify your intent in speaking up. Next, you’ll need to identify the nature of the conversation you’d like to have with another person, or a group of others, and what your intent in having the conversation is. You’re looking for ‘constructive intent’. It will be far more helpful if your intent is to ‘explore the concern’, ‘find shared understanding’, or ‘resolve the issue’ and build a stronger relationship as a starting point. Above all, rethink conversing if you’re feeling frustrated or resentful – make sure you re-think your perspective before you speak if this is the case.
- Have the courage to speak. Concerns can exist as silent conversations in our heads if they’re left unspoken. Finding a way to converse and bring up concerns with others involved liberates us from the prison of our mind. When you speak up, begin by leading with the facts of your situation (what actually has happened), then share your concerns, and ask for the other person’s view. Allow enough ‘space’ for the other to share back and listen to understand what they’re trying to share. If you speak up with a great intent and are able to listen, it will create the chance for you both to move on. A healthy relationship and the capacity to share and listen will super-charge your productivity.
Move 4 – Move Your Body!
Quite simply, you were not born to be sedentary. Daily movement is all the more important as we shift out of these pandemic times and begin to refocus on our personal productivity formulas.
We are talking about exercise as movement as well as stretching and moving at regular intervals throughout the day, say between meetings – particularly if you are in a working from home arrangement. Exercise helps improve your mood, combat chronic disease,
optimise your weight, promote better sleep, support better memory and give you more energy for the things you love to do.
Try these tips to bring about more movement:
- Nothing beats motivation. Start with a deep understanding of the benefits of exercise and ask yourself how these benefits may directly serve you. We assume you’re reading this to boost your productivity. We’re saying more exercise = more energy = higher productivity, BUT if YOU cannot make these connections, it’s unlikely you will change your behaviour. So, spend some time reflecting on how being more energised fits with your sense of the person you want to be!
- Get some social support. It can be helpful to ask others around you to help drive your exercise outcomes, particularly if you’re feeling like you’re lacking personal motivation. Making a plan with others for regular exercise helps motivate action and hold you accountable to making it happen. Over time, this can help you build a healthy habit.
- Re-assess your working from home habits. If you’re working from a desk, it could be worth reassessing how you organise your days. Can you get a stand-up desk and move back and forward between sitting and standing? Can you arrange a walking meeting, where you speak as you’re moving? How about stretching every hour between meetings and taking a few minutes to stand, stretch and move? Feeling more nimble and stretching regularly will enhance your focus, energy and productivity.
Move 5 – Establish SMART Goals
It’s obvious, but setting goals gives you the ultimate sense of focus. That said, a SMART goal is a more effective ‘goal’. Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable (attainable), Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced), and Time bound (time limited). Once you’ve set your trajectory using what we offer in Moves 1-4, Move 5 is all about being deliberate. Set your goals for the next 12 months and consider a 3 and 5 year goal too.
Be mindful of setting your goals independent of your personal needs. That means that some of your goals should include you and how you will create space, time, energy and focus to care for yourself as you strive for goals more broadly.
Consider these tips as you determine your goals.
- Make goals for wellbeing. Make sure you identify the key drivers of your wellbeing. Sleep, nutrition and movement are obvious, but less obvious wellbeing foundations include social connection, self-care and ongoing learning. What makes you feel most alive and most vibrant? Make sure your primary goals support your wellbeing.
- Set yourself 90-day targets. It can be all too easy to establish a year long goal and forget about it. Instead try and break your 12-month view into 90-day targets and get more specific about those targets in a 90-day plan. Put your 90-day plan somewhere you see it and check in on your progress weekly.
- Enlist others in support of your goals. Most goals are far more readily achieved with the support and inspiration of others close to you. Consider enrolling others who know you to work with, for and alongside you as you reach for your goals. This need not be formal – informal check ins can work just as well. You might even establish special ‘check in events’ to review milestones and explore the insights you’re gaining along the way – make sure these are fun and involve some sort of celebration when you reach your goals!!
Next month, we will continue with another 5 ways to boost your productivity. Given that it’s January, it’s your chance to make a strong start with the first 5 and establish your personal wellbeing goals above all others. Next month, we will explore how you can mobilise your team, use feedback loops, create environments, rituals and tools to boost your productivity.
What will you begin with today?
Happy New Year!