Stop being busy and start being efficient


Our team of leadership coaches has the pleasure of spending time with 100’s of school leaders each and every year. At the end of every term, we discuss common themes that are addressed during our individual and team sessions and endeavor to create additional resources to help and support where we can.

Most often these resources focus on facilitating the best ways to navigate challenges, change or assist professional growth and development. In the past few years, we have heard from many school leaders that they just feel too busy and that they can’t possibly slow down because they simply won’t complete the assigned work and tick things off of their to-do list. That got us thinking about the differences between being busy and being efficient and productive.

By definition, productivity determines how much work you get done in a given period of time. If you’ve ever known anyone highly productive and watched them in action you can be left amazed at how much they can get done in a period of time. You may have also mused about what makes them so different, motivated, and able to stay on track when it seems like it would be so easy to become distracted.

Over the years the team and I have been fortunate to be a part of and worked with many high-performing, KPI smashing, record-breaking teams and when we collated what these teams and individuals had in common. Here is what we discovered about productive people:

  1. They are highly reflective and reflect on things on their to-do list that never seem to get done. They assess their importance, relevance and then they dedicate time to complete the task they are most likely to delay in a day first. (In the words of Brian Tracey, they “Eat that Frog” – check out Brian’s amazing book on beating procrastination)
  2. They “Get on with it” seems too simple right? Simply put if you want to be more productive – stop thinking, and take action. There is research that supports that the simple act of getting moving on a task helps us to keep going and complete a task. Momentum breeds momentum.
  3. They focus on high-impact work. Not all the things on a to-do list are created equally – in fact, some are low or NO impact. A few things you may consider:
    1. Is there a deadline? Is this really urgent?
    2. Assess the value. What will the impact of this task be when you’re finished?
    3. How long will it take?
    4. Current research expresses that a person can achieve excellence with 2-3 priorities but is likely to not achieve excellence in any area if they have more than 10 priorities. 
  4. They outsource, delegate and adopt the 80/20 Rule. This rule is common business practice however, individuals, teams and schools have been less likely to utilise this as a technique. The idea is that 20% of your work creates 80% of your impact. Doing a better job at finding out what your personal 20% is can change the way in which you approach day-to-day tasks.
  5. They know when to call it a day. Productive people know when they are not at their best and they recognise their limits. They choose to create clear distinctions between home and work.
  6. They ask for help when needed and seek feedback to improve. They are often not afraid of taking risks, trying something new, or dropping or adapting something that isn’t working. 

For more help and tips on becoming less busy and more productive, connect with one of our team for free resources, tips and tricks.