More than Readin’, Ritin’ & 'Rithmetic!

effective leadership effectiveness how to be more productive at home how to be more productive at work leadership productive productivity responsibility Sep 17, 2021
How to Be More Productive

It seems like for every year older I get, there’s at least a half dozen new tasks that are added to my daily routine! While that may not actually be the case, I’m guessing you can relate in one way or another… And what if we’ve accepted responsibility for leading others? Those half dozen additional tasks could easily double to a dozen - or more!

That ever-increasing pressure makes it even more important for us to consider everything we can that could help us be more productive - at work and at home, and it drives home the importance of building systems we can use in the process! Even when we do everything we know to do, there are still times where others around us appear to get so much more done than we do; at least that’s sometimes the case for me!

I read a blog article recently called 18 Habits of Highly Productive People: What Efficient People Have in Common that opened by saying, “We’ve all known that person who always seems to be getting things done. Whether a friend or a colleague, this is the person whose work is always done early. The one who somehow manages to finish hour-long tasks in 20 minutes…” That article went on to share some fairly basic concepts each of us could take action on to increase our productivity, but 18 things seemed like a lot for me to keep up with!

Since I’ve always gotten better results when the instructions I’ve tried to follow were simple, let’s keep it that way with how we approach productivity too. Let’s dig into what John Maxwell taught me about the 3 R’s in The Law of Priorities, chapter seventeen in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. As important as readin’, ritin’ & ‘rithmetic are, those aren’t the R’s John refers to! These R’s are focused on what we do and how we do it…

The first R challenges us to determine whether or not something is really Required to be done by us… While there are tons of things that need to be done every day, like washing the dishes or straightening the kitchen, we may only need to make sure they get done rather than physically do those things ourselves. Think back to my friend’s wife having specific tasks assigned to each child. Not only is that a great example of delegation, I believe it provides each child with an effective lesson in responsibility! The hard part is often being willing to let go of certain things. And it can be equally difficult for some people to hold others accountable… But when we identify the things that can only be done by us, the things we’re really Required to do, our over list is almost always way shorter.

The second R focuses on those things we truly are Required to do and pushes us to analyze which ones give us the best Return for the time we invest into them. Over the last several years, Cindy and I have had to pay close attention to this in our business. There always seems to be opportunities for us to meet people and interact with groups but we’ve learned that some come with significantly greater opportunities for actually getting paid. While we’d love to be everything for everyone who has a need, we’ve had to be intentional about focusing the majority of our effort on the places where we get a tangible return - at least as long as we want to sleep inside and have food on the table… I realize you’re likely in a very different line of work, but I can’t think of a single private sector job that doesn’t require a specific level of performance to make sure the bills are paid and the paychecks can keep going out!

To me, the third R ties more to long term productivity. When we can get fulfillment, or Reward as John calls it, from the things we’re Required to do and give us the best Return, we begin to develop more overall balance in our lives - which usually leads to even more productivity! I’ll share some ideas that I believe will help us create systems for ourselves that tie all three of these R’s together soon. 

For now though, I’ll leave you with a word of caution. I know how easy it can be to get frustrated or even depressed when we see those folks that blog referenced who appear to be getting hour-long tasks done in 20 minutes. I once heard that the most frequent cause of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence is that it’s growing on top of a septic field! All too often, that guy who looks like he’s way more productive than us just isn’t… Even in the few cases where he is, it might be because he’s developed better systems than us and we should pay closer attention to what he’s doing so we can do it too!