December 26, 2012
The 5 Best Productivity Articles We Read This Year

1. 15 Time Wasters Successful People Avoid (Infographic)

“Time can be invested, leveraged or wasted.”

Successful people have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, lost time per day comes out to at least two hours for most industries. From losing focus to useless meetings, there are a million ways to bypass productivity. These 15 time wasters are some of the worst.

To be most effective on the job, start with overcoming the common pitfall of not listening. Overlooking dissenting opinions, new ideas or sound counsel slows your learning and allows others to leave you behind. Other damaging time-wasters include distracting technology, overwhelming obligations and bad delegation.


2. What Successful People Do the First Hour of the Day

“How much does the first hour of every day matter? As it turns out, a lot.”

Take the first hour of each day to handle the more human side of business. Don’t check your email. Catch up with old contacts. Decide which weighty task you’ll get done that day and take care of it first. Without it hanging over your head, the rest of the day will seem manageable.

Consider making a deliberate attempt each morning to remind yourself why you’re in this business and what makes it worth it—and then get to it. Feeling unfulfilled at work shouldn’t be something you realize months too late, or even years.


3. Successful People Are Morning People

“If you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen.”

Not every hour is created equal. Drawing on survey research of executives, author Laura Vanderkam claims using early morning hours is a practice many highly successful people share.

After accepting the earlier wake-up call, these five practices can help you smoothly make the switch to mornings and optimize the time you set aside for yourself. It’ll take time to build the habit, but starting your day with deliberate thought and planning will help you reclaim your the rest of your precious hours.


4. 7 Productivity Steps Every Leader Should Take

“There is an unlimited supply of juice in that lemon.”

While the amount of juice in a lemon may or may not truly be unlimited, the idea that people are often capable of producing much more than they do continues to be true.

Seven steps can set the juicing in motion. Begin by redefining work. Recognize the difference between simply being at work and being conscious of the work needing to be done. Throw in some clear objectives, infectious enthusiasm, respect and recognition, and you’re on your way to a higher, more satisfactory performance.


5. Busy Leaders Are Not Productive Leaders

“One of the easiest things for leaders to do is to bite off more than they can chew.”

Being busy doesn’t need to be the precursor to success. In fact, it’s likely not helping at all. Too much action leads to less focus on needs and priorities. If you keep adding to an already full plate, all your commitments are liable to suffer.

Effectively facing current challenges requires head-on, focused leverage to the task at hand. The best leaders understand productivity comes from preparation by self-reflection, introspection and critical thought. Ultimately, you should be your biggest critic. Make self-assessments and challenge yourself to become more engaged by design, rather than by default.