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3 Habits of Exceptionally Productive Leaders

How to lead without being a boss and how to be productive without getting everything done.

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Productivity isn’t about getting more done, but about getting what matters most done. With this in mind, here are three habits productive leaders do differently to focus on what matters most.

Productive leaders dump their to-do list

You need to prioritize to be productive. Most to-do lists, however, prioritize the wrong activities. They tend to focus on important issues that feel pressing rather than on where your time can be most efficiently spent.

For example, a great alternative to a to-do list is a 20-80 List. A 20-80 List is built on the Pareto Principle, which basically states that 20 percent of your efforts create 80 percent of your results. Examples of the Pareto Principle are everywhere. In the workplace, you’ve probably experienced that 20 percent of people do 80 percent of the work, or that 20 percent of a sales force produces 80 percent of the sales. Need an example closer to home? Look in your closet. You likely wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time.

Try drawing a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Write “20 Percent” at the top of the left side and “80 Percent” at the top of the right side. From there, show favoritism by only listing what matters most on the 20 Percent side. All other items go on the right side. If you do it correctly, you’ll end up with only a handful of tasks on the left side of the paper. Those are the ones you and your team should show favoritism to and complete first! They will produce 80 percent of what matters most to your organization.

Related: Are Toxic Habits Holding You Back?

Productive leaders slow down under pressure

Productive leaders practice a counterintuitive habit — they lead their organizations from a quiet place when more is added to their plate. While the implementation of this habit looks different with every leader, a couple overarching principles remain constant among the most productive leaders.

First, productive leaders create time and space to slow down before things get added to their plate. This time might be early in the morning or before they go to bed. The key isn’t when it’s scheduled, but that it has already been scheduled before anything extra gets added to their calendar. When tough issues arise, they don’t have to scramble to find time to address them because they have already schedule their lead-from-quiet time every day.

Second, they carve out significant chunks of time to lead from a place of calm and quiet. Although there is great value in taking 10 minute breaks throughout the day, productive leaders know these breaks are for taking breaks, not working. Short breaks are good for getting re-energized, but not for thinking deeply about leadership issues. The most productive leaders, therefore, block out a minimum of 30 minutes at a time so they can process issues thoroughly and deeply.

Related: Think It. Become It. How Your Thoughts Have Power Over Your Destiny

Productive leaders use simple math for their hardest problems

Perhaps what sets the most productive leaders apart is how they respond to adversity. Most people buy into the myth that the events of your day lead to your outcomes. They adopt an E = O mentality, thinking if events go their way, their outcomes will be good, but if events turn sour, their outcomes turn sour as well.

The problem with this equation is it’s based on what we cannot control: events. We don’t control the weather, the economy or people’s actions. Individuals who follow the E = O equation might as well add “= V” at the end because, if you allow your events to equal your outcomes, you’ll inevitably end up a victim. The real equation then becomes Events = Outcomes = Victims.

Productive leaders know this isn’t true and adopt the habit of approaching circumstances through an Events + Reactions = Outcomes equation. Originally taught by Dr. Robert Resnick and shared in Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles, E + R = O allows leaders to transform the way they lead by adding one letter to the E=O equation. That one letter empowers them and their team to win by reminding them to focus on the one thing they can control — their response.

Leaders who use this equation commit to owning their responses no matter what events they face. By adding this one letter, these leaders can turn even the most challenging events into positive outcomes.

Wrapping It Up

Do you want to move from average productivity to outstanding productivity as a leader? Then consider changing your habits. If productivity is primarily about getting what matters most done, then practice habits that focus on getting the most important things done, slowing down, and owning your response to the events the world throws your way.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

When Kent Julian graduated high school, his SATs scores were so low he had to take Development Studies to have a chance of getting into college, on probation. From those humble beginnings, he earned a BA and MA with honors, lead several large youth-serving organizations, and was appointed the National Director of Alliance Youth which served approximately 2,000 youth groups across the United States. After 20 years in the non-profit world, Julian did a 180 and launched his own lifestyle business which empowers people and organizations to live and earn it forward. He is a professional speaker, an author of multiple books, a what-matters-most business coach, and a proud bald guy.

Self Development

5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day

In honour of Mandela Day, here are 5 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes.

Casandra Visser

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“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

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Self Development

25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

If the harshest thing you have to say about someone is partly true, say the other part.

John Rampton

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Did you know that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones? It seems we need lots of words to describe our negative feelings, but we’re content with a handful of positive ones.

For instance, researchers have found that most cultures have words for seven basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.

That’s one positive emotion, and six negative

It’s no wonder so many of us have a hard time keeping our negative comments in check. Over the past six months I’ve been working on the verbal language that I’ve been using that I don’t even realize hurts others and in some cases makes them feel inferior. I even noticed that I’ve used a couple on my personal and business website. This is a “no-no” that I needed to fix.

This post will list 25 negative words you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!

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Self Development

How To Control What You Can And Influence What You Can’t In Your Life

Every day you need to get up and face numerous challenges. Here’s how you can keep your head in the game — even when all you want to do is quit.

Erik Kruger

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On Monday you wake up ready to take on the world. You’re focused, determined and business is doing well. Tuesday feels like you’re invincible and things could not be going any better. Wednesday, your world collapses. You doubt your ability to deliver to your clients. You wonder whether you should still pursue the same business. You think that quitting at this stage is easier than dealing with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And you are dramatically reminded that entrepreneurship is hard.

Mix in human nature and it becomes borderline insanity to try and build a business. And yet, the reward is worth it. I therefore want to share three strategies that might help you cope with this tough but deeply rewarding pursuit.

Influence and control

Most of the things in business and life are out of our control. You cannot control how other people react to your service or product. You cannot control how your employees will show up. You cannot control how the market will react and how that will affect your business.

Related: How You Can Do Big Things

This makes it very important to control what you can and then influence the rest to the best of your ability.

So, what can you control? You can control your actions, reactions and perceptions of the challenges you face. Meaning essentially, that you can control yourself and your efforts.

Do this with excellence and you will automatically influence the people around you and the situations you find yourself in.

Override your moods

If we only did the hard work when we felt like it, we would hardly get anything done. Our moods fluctuate like the tides of the ocean. Not because we are temperamental but because the external world has a profound impact on us.

When you wake up to news that the economy is in recession, it has the potential to plant seeds of doubt in your mind. When you receive an email from a disgruntled customer complaining about your service, it has the potential to ruin your day.

The fact is that you can receive a hundred testimonials singing your praise, but you will obsess and become despondent over that one negative comment.

This means that we have to move beyond our emotions. Sure, they are important in the decision-making process and for fostering meaningful relationships. But you cannot allow them to dictate when you will do work.

In other words, work hard, irrespective of your moods, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.

Create a calibration practice

One of the best ways to deal with this rollercoaster effect is to create a daily calibration practice. I am a big fan of any action taken on a daily basis. Not only because of the accumulation effect that occurs over time, but also because it keeps you focused.

So, what does a daily calibration practice look like?

It differs for everyone. It could range from meditation to a vision board to journaling to listening to a specific playlist of songs. My suggestion is that you give journaling a go.

Because it’s sometimes difficult to start a new calibration practice, I have included my journaling template for you.

It’s called ‘J1G’ (pronounced as jig). I use Evernote or a notebook from HumanWrites for journaling purposes.

J: Journal

For the first few minutes, simply allow your hand to run across the paper. The idea is for you to dump as many of your thoughts onto the paper as possible.

Some questions you can answer in this section are:

  • What am I currently excited about?
  • What am I currently worried about?
  • Where am I currently winning?
  • What can I learn from what happened yesterday?

1: The one thing that you want to get done today

In this time, I usually have a look at my to-do list and decide which one action I want to get done today. Write it down and then expand on why it is the most important action. How will it move you or your business forward?

Related: Better Thinking For A Better World

G: Gratitude

In the last section, you simply write down three things that you are grateful for. Trust me, this is an important daily practice, but even more so on the days when you feel as if life is beating you down.

When you focus on the things that you are grateful for, you crowd out fear and shift your state of mind to a more positive and productive one.

The punch line

If you can stick to the three ideas I outlined above, I guarantee you will develop more resilience and perseverance. You are an entrepreneur because you chose to be one. Do not allow life to impose its will on you. I have no doubt that you will be better off because of all the challenges you face. Not in spite of them.

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