Tips on staying productive and getting sh*t done

Great leaders are unflappable and seem able to effortlessly cut across a huge range of projects and initiatives at any given time. They always seem to be on top of emails and are up to date on priorities. 

So how do they do it? By getting the right stuff done. And learning a few business hacks along the way. Here’s how.

(1) Unified vision

A shared vision that everyone understands and buys into helps cut away initiatives that aren’t working and leads towards that one united goal. Vision motivates and inspires people. It helps to build a team with a shared view, which in turn helps to get stuff done as you’re only spending time on initiatives that are working towards that unifying goal.

(2) Clear decision making

Decision by committee never works. Fact. Those that persistently try and get the opinions of multiple stakeholders will tell you how impossibly slow it is to get stuff done. So wherever possible, minimise the lines of approval to ensure your business can make smart decisions with agility. That doesn’t have to mean having closed projects or creating an exclusive culture, but it does mean being strategic about who is involved when, to keep momentum going. 

Read more about increasing productivity in your business:

(3) Team of lieutenants

Delegate. Create a team of lieutenants you can trust to get sh*t done. Divide projects out or break them down into manageable tasks to a team of aligned and reliable staff who can work efficiently and report back weekly or monthly on their progress. 

I get my lieutenants to send me a weekly summary of what they’ve been up to in the body of an email. It takes five minutes for me to read and I can access, reply and ask questions easily. It’s a really efficient way of checking in when you don’t have time to meet all your teams weekly.

(4) Short sharp meetings

Break the habit of meetings lasting an hour. Make meetings short and sharp (sometimes ten minutes is enough), with a clear agenda and a clear desired output. Once this is achieved, close the meeting. Write up notes in the meeting on a laptop. Once the meeting is finished it’s then a lot quicker to circulate minutes and actions, without adding another hour to your already unruly day.

(5) Use Slack

Explore instant communication channels to help keep staff connected and aligned. Slack is a channel that works well for us. We create topic, interest and initiative folders that all staff have access to. We also create folders for live jobs and drop key documents into that folder so other members of the team have key information at their fingertips at any given time. It also allows for team members not directly involved with a particular project, to still feel connected to it and add value.

In our business we have a rolling project called “Getting Sh*t Done”, which is about constant streamlining and smarter working, reviewing and realigning our processes every month to ensure we are working as efficiently as possible. With such busy schedules, business leaders could flounder but with short, sharp task lists and all teams lined up with clear tasks ready for battle, the important stuff will get done.

Jo Davies is CEO of independent creative agency ZAK.

The UK is heading towards a “productivity pressure cooker” – placing business leaders and employees under increased pressure to be more efficient. So how can managers boost their productivity and enable their teams to do the same?

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