By Kevin Eikenberry, co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. 

There are two key words in the title of this post, and one, or the combination of them, is why you are reading. So before I get to the tips, let’s look at those two words.

First up: Unusual.

Much has been written about productivity, so how will I define the word unusual? I am defining it not by awareness, but by application. For me to provide five productivity ideas that will help you and that you haven’t heard before is a tall order. However, giving you five that you seldom or never use is easier. That is where I will focus. By the time you reach the end of this short article, you will have five ideas that will move the needle for you, but only if you move yourself, and practice them until they become habits.

The next word: Productivity.

I think the word is highly misunderstood in common practice. Let me give you an example.

You own a long-haul trucking company and have two drivers who both logged 750 miles yesterday. Which one had higher productivity? If you said they are equal, you are wrong. They had the same production – 750 miles – but their productivity requires more information.

If I then tell you that Driver A drove for 12.5 hours and Driver B drove for 15 hours; now we can determine productivity. Driver A averaged 60 miles/hour and Driver B averaged 50 miles/hour. So if you want to think about productivity, make sure you are considering the production compared to time (or some other measure). All of the tips below focus on real productivity not just raw production.

However, before we get to the tips, here is what you need first to make them work for you. You have to be borderline obsessed with how you use your time and what you accomplish in that time. In other words, productivity has to matter to you, and you need to hold yourself to a high standard regarding it.

With all that said, here are my five unusual productivity tips:

Take intentional control

Most people act as if they have no control of their time. They release control to customers, email, the weather and who-knows-what-else. Rather than let others dictate your day for you, take more control of your time. For example, when you schedule phone calls, be the one to place the call. That way you aren’t waiting for other people. If you call and they don’t answer, you can leave a message and move on to a new task. Additionally, provide specific deadlines for tasks, rather than saying something like “ASAP” or “When you can get it back to me.”

The goal here is to take a more proactive approach to your work and to stop wasting time waiting for other people to act or react. That said …

Be prepared when waiting is inevitable 

The most productive people have a plan that allows them to be productive during those moments when they are forced to wait. Have on you at all times a notebook for brainstorming, a book to read, or a list of calls you need to make or emails you need to write. Have a plan and be prepared to use those minutes that are otherwise lost forever. (Oh, and unless you are a social media professional, checking Facebook probably doesn’t count.)

Block your time

I know that in some people’s work that might be easier than in others, but everyone can find times during the day or week to block for high-priority tasks. When you block your time for a task, you help yourself be more focused and therefore, more productive. That is the best way to make sure that you achieve important outcomes and aren’t simply working on whatever seems urgent at that moment.

Have your one thing

Focus is a key to heightened productivity. Do you know what the most important thing for you to accomplish each day is? Make sure you have an outcome that matters above all else and focus on achieving it each day. You may not bat 1.000, but having that task, activity or outcome firmly planted in your mind will improve your odds greatly.

Take a nap

You can struggle over something for 20 minutes and not finish, or you can take a ten-minute nap and then finish the task in the next ten minutes. Your productivity has soared, and you will be fresher (and more productive) for the next five tasks on your list too.

If you are serious about improving your productivity and effectiveness in any area of your life, put these ideas to the test in your life and work. You will be glad you did.

Share your tips with us in the comments section! What is one productivity tip that has changed how you lead your virtual or hybrid team? 

Photo Credit: Alice Eyman

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