INNOVATE

Five World Class Thinkers Share Their Productivity Hacks

Work Smarter, Not Harder

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BY David Burkus - 16 Feb 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Getting a handle on your work flow and figuring out how to work smarter can seem like an insurmountable task, but it is achievable. It is doable. Getting more great work done in today's environment takes a mix of innovative tactics and good-old fashioned grit.

I recently interviewed 40+ experts on productivity, teamwork, leadership, and career management and 5 individual's recommendations stood out. Here they are:

Rory Vaden, bestselling author of Take The Stairs and Procrastinate on Purpose, said his approach starts with his calendar. "I'm a big fan of throwing everything off of your calendar and making it fight its way back onto the calendar. On any given day you just say, 'Hey. It's off the calendar, and now it's got to fight its way to get back on, to get back in front of me.'"

Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and bestselling author, blends his most important work with some of his most enjoyable pleasures. "I try to connect my morning coffee, which is a ritual routine that I love, with productivity." That way, he enjoys his work as much as his macchiato. "When I come to my office, I put it to the side of the computer and I start working. I work on something that is important. I engage in something that is complex and thoughtful that I need to make progress on. As long as there's coffee in the cup, I don't do anything."

Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours and TED Speaker, takes a slightly different approach but echoes the importance of elimination: "I also am pretty good about trying to get rid of things I don't want to do, which is the second half of that, that you want to plan in stuff you do want to do. Then, constantly figure out 'Well, if this is not the right direction for me professionally, or not the right direction for me personally, how can I offload it?' I think constantly asking that question can tune up a lot of time as well."

Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President at Walt Disney World's best routine is staying informed: "My recommended routine at work is to go around and see all your employees in the morning before you go turn on your computer and before you with paperwork. It's a routine. Make sure you see everybody. Get out of your office and meet your guests, your customers a few times a day. Have that routine, schedule it."

And Cal Newport, bestselling author of Deep Work and So Good They Can't Ignore you, plans his deep work sessions ahead of time, to make sure he's not interrupted. "I really stay focused on the high value actions and activities and then whatever I'm working on that day gets physically added, obviously, I add it to my calendar so it's not just my meetings but I chunk out I'm going to work on project x from 10 to 2."

These are five original takes on some long-standing advice, but the success of each advisor is a testament to their power. To unlock your own productivity, you need to experiment and innovate just as much. Try some of these, adjust them, and make them your own.