Executives Stay Productive by Avoiding Distractions
Few people in executive roles land there by accident. To achieve such a high-level position, you must be a strong, smart leader with a track record of success. After becoming an executive, however, some people fall short because they\lose the ability to prioritize. A great executive is many things, but at their heart, the ability to stay productive is what sets them apart. In a world of constant distractions, here’s how executives focus on the things that matter.
They Put First Things First
We should start by defining the two types of distractions. First, there are actual distractions like non-work related social media or internet surfing. Whether it’s fantasy football or gossip websites, any executive with staying power recognizes the drain these can be on actual work. Secondly, there is the “shiny object” type of distraction. Shiny objects are either low-level work tasks or exciting opening projects, like initial contacts with new clients or employees, conferences, or industry-relevant reading materials.
The shiny objects all have value. The trap is that the executive’s time should be focused on the end result and not the opening. The opening is easier and more fun. The closing is harder. Great executives stay productive by taking a few minutes at the opening to make introductions, thank people for being on board, etc. and then leave the tasks to subordinates. When it’s time to close, they come back to finish the deal.
They Compartmentalize Their Time
Compartmentalizing time is helpful for anyone trying to be productive and successful, but it’s a survival skill for executives. While they don’t need to slavishly stick to a minute-by-minute daily routine, it is important that they pan time in their day or week for specific tasks like responding to email, meeting with their direct reports, professional developments, and even the occasional time-waster as a break/reward. By allotting time for all these things, they get them done but don’t let them hijack their whole day.
They Coach and Delegate
We talked about executives getting out of the way in the opening stages of a deal. To make this work, a productive executive must have a great team they can trust to handle the tasks at hand. Therefore, they must continually train and mentor employees, coaching them with the expertise they’ve learned over the years, and delegating tasks to them, empowering them with authority and accountability.
Focus, time management, and delegation are the tools executives use to stay on top of their workload and maintain the respect of their staffs.