The Real Secret to Being More Productive and Effective


We're all looking for the edge to be more productive. And I have good news: Over and over, I've seen one simple technique make a huge difference for my executive coaching clients when they try it. 

If you're ready to step up your game from simply doing well to truly excelling, it comes down to creating time to reflect.  

I'll give you the same advice that I give my clients about implementing this practice: Start by putting just 10-15 minutes for reflection on your calendar. Use this time to think about the meetings you'll be attending. What do you need to do prepare? What do you anticipate coming up at these meetings? What does success at this meeting look like for you?  

Also take some time to review the meetings you've been to recently. What happened? What were the dynamics in the room? How do those things affect what you should do next? Who else might you need to engage, to achieve the necessary results?  

As you begin tapping into the power of reflection, the first step is to simply schedule the time to think on the calendar and protect it. To set yourself up for success, pinpoint the days and times on your calendar when competing demands for your time are least likely to pull you away.  

Start with scheduling 15 minutes of reflection time once a week; then work your way up to 15 minutes several times a week. Eventually aim to take an hour multiple times per week. As you increase the time you dedicate for reflection, also start designating how you will use that time. In other words, specify the topics you will focus on.  

From my experience with my executive coaching clients, once they start setting aside even a little time for reflection, they quickly see results like these:  

  • They have a better sense of what success and their desired outcomes look like.

  • They get more mileage out of meetings.

  • They more effectively anticipate obstacles.

  • They delegate more often, maximizing their own productivity and better leveraging their team.

All of those positive outcomes motivate them to set aside even more reflection time.

The key thing they realize, and that you'll realize when you start building in your own reflection time, is that when you're constantly in reactive mode, you're always a step behind. Taking the time to reflect and strategize is essential to being more proactive.

Today I challenge you to block out even 15 minutes for reflection on your calendar and to pay attention to the difference it makes in your week. Remember that big improvements in your productivity and effectiveness start with small shifts like this one. Ready for more ideas? You'll find them in my new e-booklet "Staying in the Driver's Seat." It's part of The Leadership EDGE SeriesSM.