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6 CEO Productivity Tips to Steal for Yourself


Stashed in: #lifehacks, Time, Practice, Focus!, CEOs, Productivity, Mashable!, Productivity

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First three are the best:

1. Take breaks every 90 minutes

Tony Schwartz, president of the Energy Project, suggests taking breaks every 90 minutes to maximize your productivity. The reason? Human bodies have an energy cycle that operates at 90-minute intervals throughout the day. When we’ve been working on something for an hour and a half or longer, it’s natural that our alertness levels will go down and our attention will wander or we’ll feel drowsy (or start checking Twitter or Facebook).

The counterintuitive secret to sustainable great performance is to live like a sprinter. In practice, that means working at your highest intensity in the mornings, for no more than 90 minutes at a time, and then taking a break.

So, the next time your eyes are glazing over, instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, step away from your work for a few minutes instead. You might be surprised how much you’ll get done in the long run.

2. Make yourself uninterruptable sometimes

There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting into the zone working on a big project — and then being interrupted by a co-worker or boss who drops by your desk. Worse, research shows it can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption.

And that’s exactly why Andrew Marsh, CEO of Fifth Column Games, has developed a system to make sure that everyone in his office can work without being interrupted. By placing a “cone of silence” on their desks, employees have a tangible symbol that conveys that they should not be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.

I use the cone of silence when I'm working on a complex project that I need to concentrate on. Being able to focus intensely without interruption is a valuable productivity tool for everyone at Fifth Column Games.

Whether you need to stay focused on intense tasks for a couple of hours a day or you’re working on a big project, using a system that informs people of this will get them into the habit of sending you an email for non-urgent tasks instead of dropping by your desk.

3. Manage your energy, not just your time

You know it’s important to budget your time wisely — but it can actually be more effective to also manage your energy. Our own CEO, The Muse co-founder Kathryn Minshew, is a fan of optimizing her workday by doing her most concentration-intensive tasks during her peak hours, those golden hours when her energy levels are at their highest. Meetings, on the other hand, are something she avoids during these hours and saves for other times in the day.

I find it's been immensely helpful for me to pay attention to when in the day I'm most productive (what hours, under what conditions) and aggressively guard that time for focused work.

If you’re a morning person, do your most important tasks first thing and save the tedious, mindless tasks for later in the day when your energy is waning. Not sure what your peak hours are? Try energy mapping to find out and make the most of your workday.

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