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Did you know that it is possible to be unproductive for up to 17 hours each week? No wonder we feel we never achieve the results we want.

It is likely that every CEO begins each day with a prioritized list and then the time slips away while in information overload from emails and meetings.  So how can we structure our days, remain focused and eliminate distractions so that we can maximize our productivity.

Advance mindfully.  This means being fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing.  It means being mindful of what you are experiencing and your state of mind rather than working on autopilot. Work mindfully on one task at a time to completion.

Create personal routines.  Begin and end each day with personal routines.  These can include waking up at the same time every day, going to the gym, walking the dog, uninterrupted family time, and one hour before sleep device free buffer time.  Exercise, sleep and a balanced life are critical productivity tools.

Listen to your body.  We all feel productive, alive and alert certain hours of the day and feel more tired some other hours of the day.  Address your most critical work – highest priorities, problem-solving, strategic planning – during those high-functioning hours.  Use those tiring hours for low priority work.

Allocate time effectively.  Time is the one resource that is easily wasted and cannot be recovered.  Block out chunks of time for important projects or tasks, emails, phone calls and meetings. Scheduling that time can help to keep you focused and fully engaged in getting the most out of those hours.  A rule of thumb is that one uninterrupted work hour is the equivalent of three hours in a normal work environment.  If you schedule an hour for a meeting it is likely the meeting will take that full hour so schedule short times like 10-15 minutes for less important tasks and meetings.

Calendar tools such as Calendly allow you to choose the hours for phone calls.  Scheduled phone calls eliminate unproductive phone tag.  Constantly switching gears to check emails is less productive than blocking out time twice a day to check emails and complete them.

Automation is key.  Imagine if you established processes that automated routine tasks and ensured consistency and precision.  Each time you find yourself doing a repetitive task, ask whether it could be automated– maybe with email templates, a pre-programmed text message or project management.  Next, research the available automation tools and map out the workflow.  The more you automate, the more time you have for more important things.

Use old school productivity tools. Not all productivity comes from using the latest high tech.  Reading or listening to great books, podcasts and articles can increase productivity.  Journaling your thoughts and priorities can help to keep you focused and on-task.

Learn to delegate even more.   For each task, ask yourself if you are doing something that someone else could or should be doing.  Delegate based on skill rather than available time.  This frees up your time for more important things and develops your team by giving them more challenging work.

Completely eliminate your distractions.   We all have our distractions.  Acknowledge and eliminate yours whether it is checking social media sites or spending too much time socializing in meetings.

Surround yourself with productive people.  When every person on your team is focused, productive and actually doing the work rather than talking about the work, results will be achieved.

Reclaim those unproductive hours.  When you begin to think of yourself as productive you will act productively staying focused and on-task rather than being easily distracted.

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