The responsibilities of leadership can be overwhelming especially for new leaders. Trying to manage your day-to-day, a new team and personal life can seem almost impossible. Most leaders struggle to effectively manage their time between it all and at least one area suffers greatly.

Let’s face it, not all of us were born with a Type A personality, myself included. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it does require patience and dedication to learning new productivity habits. Productivity tools are great ways to manage time and tasks. However, they can become ineffective if they’re not the right fit.

Here are 4 ways new leaders can stay organized, minimize the daily overwhelm and increase their productivity.

Create A Winning Routine 

Having a routine is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A routine doesn’t have to relate to your professional life. In fact, it’s meant to get your creative juices flowing. This can be done through a hobby, exercise, meditation or anything that brings you sheer joy.

The first thing most people do in the morning is to check their phones. What you read first thing in the morning can negatively influence your mood and productivity. Believe it or not, your morning dictates how the rest of your day will be. 

I firmly believe the success of your day rests on your evening prior. I don’t know about you but I need at least an hour to unwind before going bed. Otherwise, I’m up all night and that makes for a rocky morning. About an hour before bed, I set my alarm and put my phone on airplane mode leaving it on my dresser across the room.

When you get a good night’s sleep, you’re less likely to feel groggy, exhausted and mentally drained in the morning. A good night’s sleep helps you wake up more energized than if you were tossing and turning thinking about the overwhelm in your inbox. You can unwind through yoga, journaling, reading or tidying up. Writing out a small to-do list of what needs to be done the next day is a great way to kick start a productive day.

In the morning, I leave my phone on airplane mode and give myself some “me time” to get energized for the day. This typically consists of some meditating, yoga, journaling and a bit of writing. While I get ready, I listen to a podcast or audiobook. It’s not until after I’m done getting ready that I turn my phone off airplane mode and dive into my emails.

Ditch The Multi-Tasking Mentality

We were taught early on that multi-tasking is the key to productivity, but studies have proven that to be highly ineffective. Organized leaders know how to prioritize tasks to be more productive and successful. Juggling multiple expectations is exhausting. Instead of giving your undivided attention to one thing, you’re giving pieces of your attention to many. This is the easiest way to become overwhelmed, tired and burn yourself out.

It’s inevitable that urgent situations will arise unexpectedly and priorities will shift. Try to remain calm and not let them invoke a sense of panic. The key is being able to manage these immediate tasks and pivot accordingly.

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having dozens of internet tabs open and bouncing between them all? Studies have actually shown that having multiple tabs open can overstimulate your brain resulting in decreased productivity and performance. Close all the tabs you don’t need or pull the current tab you’re working on out so the other tabs or hidden from sight.

Adopt A Right-fitting Tool Or System

Having the right tool or system in place can maximize your productivity. It might require some trial and error before finding the one that works for you. Here are some that work for me:

Slack: keeps track of progress and conversations between individuals and team. This keeps conversations organized in channels instead of letting emails pile up and get pushed down

Google Drive: collaborate with people internally and externally. This removes the back and forth in emails. You can create a folder system inside of your Google drive so you can easily find documents

Asana or Trello: helps manage tasks, keep track of deadlines and progress, and eliminate long email threads

Clockify: tracks how long it takes to work on and complete tasks and projects

Buffer: create and schedule social media content across platforms in advance

Calendly or Acuity: integrates with your calendar so you can send a calendar link to schedule external meetings instead of having an ongoing email chain

Otter: transcribes meetings so you and your team can refer back to meeting notes at any time

Aside from actual systems, it’s just as important to create healthy lifestyle habits. Every Monday, I have time blocked off in my calendar so I can review what’s on my plate for the week. I dive into emails flagging any that are important for me to circle back to that require a more detailed response or additional research. 

At the end of every day, I make sure my inbox is tidy and office space is clean. Having papers scattered around my desk makes me feel scatterbrained. I’ve also found keeping a notebook or a planner with you at all times is great for taking notes on-the-go and from forgetting important dates or information. My mind is always on the move so I don’t want to risk missing something important especially when it comes to my team or clients.

Be Intentional With Your Time

Planning ahead means being prepared for any obstacles that can come your way. I’m a firm believer in making every minute count. I’m not perfect, but I try to make the most of my time.

It makes me cringe when people hold meetings for the sake of holding them even if there are no updates. Additionally, people will drag out meetings long after they’re done because they believe ending early makes them look unproductive. 

It’s okay to end a meeting early. This helps everyone get a head start on their tasks. In fact, meetings are more efficient when there’s an agenda prepared and sent out to everyone in advance. As a result, everyone knows what’s expected of them. Otherwise, team members will be disengaged during the meeting trying to figure out what they should contribute. 

One of my favorite systems, Eliminate, Automate, Delegate (EAD), does exactly what it says and unloads tasks that don’t serve you. EAD asks three simple questions:

  • Can this task or process be eliminated?
  • If not, can it be automated?
  • If it cannot be automated or eliminated, can it be delegated?

Productive leaders delegate the tasks that keep them from focusing on their priorities. They utilize the people on their team who are best suited to carry out these responsibilities. Leaders also use their team as accountability buddies. They keep communication ongoing so everyone knows the progress, challenges and responsibilities of the rest of the team. 

Productivity habits look different for everyone. One of my favorite things I help my clients with is finding what works for them. First, we go through what their day-to-day looks like. From there, I identify productivity gaps and areas of improvement.

For example, one of my clients finds it difficult to stay on top of her emails. She’s fallen into the habit of flagging them for follow-up but never being able to find the time to actually follow up. This has created a disconnect with not only her team but her vendors and clients. It wasn’t pretty. We’ve since evaluated her calendar and I introduced her to time blocking and time management strategies.

Many of my clients who hire me do so because they lack the time management, systems and habits to be successful in their position. We’re humans, not superheros and I love being able to customize strategies specific to their lifestyle. Are you ready to increase your productivity so you can be an effective leader for yourself and your team? Click here to schedule your complimentary call where we can see how I can help!