If there’s one thing the world’s productivity gurus have in common, it’s this:
They get things done.
Tim Ferris had published his first New York Times best seller by age 30. Stephen Covey’s seven habits are still in circulation after two-and-a half decades, and David Allen’s created an international empire of coaching services, events and online tools. Most notable of all, these individuals reportedly maintain exciting, fulfilling lives.
Remote teams can learn a lot from these and other legendary productivity pros.
Whether you’re part of a leadership team or are simply adjusting to working remotely, the proven methods behind these motivational quotes from the experts can help fan the flames of efficiency:
1. “If you don’t pay attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
Allen’s work-life management system allegedly “transforms overwhelm into stress-free productivity.” It might border on hyperbole if Getting Things Done hadn’t sold more than a million copies and attracted a huge following of adopters and advocates. At the core of Allen’s process is a simple method for capturing everything on your mind—from professional goals to personal projects to distracting to-dos—and then systemizing a stress-free process for completing it all. It’s the ultimate way to revamp your to-do list.
Taking this a step further, remote employees can reap big benefits by making professional lists visible to the rest of the team on a day-to-day basis. It’s sometimes surprising to discover how much can be accomplished after publicly answering simple questions like “What are you planning to accomplish today?” or “What challenges stand in your way?” Issues are more quickly identified, solutions are shared and collaboration is strengthened.
2. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
You may already be familiar with Stephen Covey’s “big rocks” analogy. (If you’re not, you should be.) This powerful time management strategy has inspired generations of successful executives and entrepreneurs.
Covey’s now-famous quote has served as motivation to thousands of people attempting to reprioritize tasks and eliminate distractions—easier said than done when there’s a lot vying for your time and attention. That’s when OKRs can be helpful. This measurable strategy can be used to not only align teams but also power productivity and remove the mystery from effectively prioritizing day-to-day projects and plans.
3. “What you don’t do determines what you can do.”
They still take up space in most people’s work days: the never-ending email chains, the distracting alerts, the extraneous time-sapping meetings.
Ferriss’ approach to these constant distractions is simple and brilliant: Create a not-to-do list. Don’t let people ramble. Don’t agree to meetings with no clear agenda. Don’t carry a cell phone 24/7. And don’t email late at night.
4. “Email is familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s easy to use. But it might just be the biggest killer of time and productivity in the office today.”
Since HootSuite’s CEO wrote this in a 2012 contribution to Fast Company, tools like Slack have become wildly popular for eliminating the productivity-sapping clutter of email chains and attachments. If you haven’t already, give it a try.
5. “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”
This one sums up one of the most common mantras of productivity pros. No matter how hard you work to eliminate distractions, there will always be some uninviting or challenging tasks. You’re just going to have to hunker down and get them accomplished so you can move on to bigger goals. Start each day by spending a few minutes prioritizing (What am I planning to do today? What challenges stand in my way?), and you may just be surprised at how quickly you, too, will start to get things done.