Coasting will never result in achieving great things. Rather, the most successful people you know are intentional about how they spend their time and attention. Want some ideas on how you can push yourself to the next level? Here’s how two dozen executives do it.
1. Stop multi-tasking.
“By cleaning up clutter in real time–this includes emails, too–you free up valuable mental space and can untether yourself from tasks that are either not important or should be handled by someone else. Perhaps more importantly, draw a hard line between work and life, rather than multitasking 24/7. Allocate time for work, and time for other activities that enrich your life. When it’s time for work, work efficiently and intensely. When it’s time for life, give your friends, family and activities that same presence.”
–Dr. Shu Li, chairman of laboratory for Advanced Medicine, recipient of six U.S. and international patents for various therapeutic inventions and co-author of three books on regenerative medicine
2. Organize and delegate.
“Operating a startup in the California Bay Area while simultaneously raising two toddlers, is probably the most challenging job on the planet. As both are a huge priority in my life, organization and delegation are the two concepts that allow me to excel in both entities. Most startup founders don’t understand how important and life-changing these simple concepts can be, especially when done right. It’s unnatural, particularly in a startup environment, to trust others with your high-priority items but building trust and letting your team take on specific tasks can free your mind to focus on what is most important to you.”
–Aman Sareen, cofounder and CEO of ZypMedia, operating in in 230 U.S. markets and enabling 2,900 sellers to offer audience-extension advertising solutions in the $150 billion local advertising market
3. Shut off email.
“Many executives forget there’s no such thing as multi-tasking, and it hinders their productivity. When ‘multitasking’ the brain merely jumps back and forth from task to task at a pace that may feel like multitasking, but isn’t. The main medium that divides attention and reduces leaders to ineffective, multitasking cognition is email. I shut off my access to email for at least two hours every day, sometimes more when I have many big decisions on my plate that require me to think deeply about one thing for a long duration of time. Answering emails gives us a quick rush of dopamine to the brain, but it prevents us from falling into deep think and achieving what psychologists call ‘flow,’ the intrinsic state of enjoyment that comes from focusing intensely on one thing over a long period of time. Shutting off my email intermittently not only makes me a more effective problem solver, it also makes my work more enjoyable.”
–Scott Cramer, president of Go Solar Group, a multi-market solar company in the Western United States, which has leveraged the non-profit entity of its company to provide more than 4 million hours of clean reading light for children in Ugandan villages via micro-financed solar solutions