The Inc. Magazine blogs are a great source of inspiration and tips for running a business, or even doing your job better if you aren’t the boss. Writer Jeff Haden recently posted an article on 8 things you should not do every day. He was focused on productivity, and these will make you more productive. They are also great tips for leaders, and I’ll share why:
- Don’t check your cell phone when talking to someone. One rule leaders follow is to “be present.” Which is more important to you, the person you are with or something that might be going on elsewhere? If the answer is your phone, then maybe you should end your conversation and do the more productive thing. Anyway, how do you feel when somebody interrupts your conversation to check their phone?
- Don’t multi-task at meetings. Haden talks about how much you’ll learn because probably everyone else is multi-tasking, which is an interesting point. But as with point one, what are you communicating as a leader? (And if you don’t see yourself as “the leader,” what are you telling your leader?) If your time is more valuable spent elsewhere, do that. If someone “made” you go to the meeting, maybe they know something you don’t. If you want to be sure you get the most from any meeting, take a few minutes ahead of time and prepare for it. You will be surprised just how much more productive you will be at a meeting if you know why you are there.
- Don’t think about people who don’t make any difference in your life. Too many of us spend our lives worrying about what others think. I know I used to do it. One way to stop this problem is to know what you value and your goals so that you can be busy thinking about what is important. Need to think about people? Why not think about the people you are grateful to have as part of your life?
- Don’t use multiple notifications. Notifications are interruptions to your work flow, Haden reminds us. He makes the point about focus I made in the first two points. As a leader, you need to focus on what is important. Schedule the time you will be looking at email, etc.
- Don’t let the past dictate your future. When hiring, I am a big proponent of “behavioral interviewing” because the best indicator of what someone will do in the future is to see what they have done in the past. However, the big caveat to this dictum is when someone has had an intervening significant experience. If you have decided to change and you are on a path of change, you do not have to be shackled to your past. Others might continue to judge you based on your past, but remember #3 above…
- Don’t wait until you are sure you will succeed. When I teach people about goal setting, I teach them to find some small step to do that day that moves them toward their goal. Taking action is the only way to ensure success. Don’t wait. Act.
- Don’t talk behind someone’s back. Leaders don’t gossip. If you have a problem with someone, let it be between you and them. If you are willing to engage in gossip, others will wonder if you gossip about them, too. This does not strengthen your influence as a leader. Talk about things that matter and help move you toward your goals.
- Don’t say “yes” when you really mean “no.” One of your most important jobs as a leader is to have a vision and keep yourself and your team moving toward it. When you allow others to insert their priorities into your schedule, your agenda suffers. This was Rip Van Winkle’s problem. He was so busy helping his neighbors that he neglected his own duties. No wonder his wife was unhappy!
As leaders we are busy thinking about the things we should do, but as Jeff reminds us, there are things we really should not do, if we are going to succeed. At the Chic-fil-a Leadercast a couple years back, Jim Collins talked about having a “to-don’t” list along side your “to-do” list. These make a good start, but make your own list. What are the distractions that get in the way of you being more productive and successful? Why not intentionally remind yourself to steer clear of them?
8 Things You Should Not Do Every Day by Jeff Haden at Inc.