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How to boost your productivity

It’s the end of January, the month we typically set intentions for the year ahead. How are you tracking against those intentions? No matter how great our intentions are, if we don’t have the productive habits to support them, we’re unlikely to be able to achieve these goals when ‘stuff’ just gets in the way.  

We’re incredibly busy, conflicting demands and agendas that pull us in different directions – so how do we ensure we are as productive and effective as possible? 

At Life’s Work we support leaders and teams to work more productively together, and have more productive career conversations. Here’s a few tried and tested suggestions to boost your career, team and leadership productivity in to start the new year as you mean to go on.  


Reflection before application! 

This tends to be our busiest month for new enquiries regarding career coaching, one of the most common mistakes people make is to not reflect first before jumping in and applying for new roles. The time you take to reflect first will make you much more productive in the long term rather than blanket 

it’s much more beneficial to reflect on the past year and evaluate what you have learned BEFORE looking forward to new goals etc.  

If you’re not keen on long reflection exercises keep it short and simple and think about: 

  • 3 things in your career that you are most proud of?  
  • 3 things that give you energy in your work?  
  • 3 things people value most about you/your work?

There are plenty of great resources to help you do this, we really like and John Lees ‘how to get a job you love’ is full of exploratory exercises to help you understand first what types of roles might be a good fit BEFORE jumping in with the application process. 

Put purpose first  

You may have heard of the concept of Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”)  this is above all else a concept that strives to balance the spiritual with the practical. 

This balance is found at the sweet spot of these 4 areas where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for.  

  • What does the world need? 
  • What do you love doing? 
  • What can you paid for? 
  • What are you good at?  

More about this and other tips on exploring your career purpose by Donna Weston on the secret to a successful career.  The blog is packed full of helpful tips and resources to help you to discover your career purpose.   

Reach out for support  

This is often overlooked and some people hold back from asking things of others, which can then hold you back in your career.  

  • Make a list of your ‘star supporters’ it might surprise you how many have had your back over the years; include everyone throughout your career and think about what the impact that support had on you. Tell them.  
  • For those of us who are more comfortable being the ‘supporter’ rather than the ‘supportee’ it helps to think of asking for support as a sign of strength not a weakness. JUST ASK. People generally like to help, and if they don’t then they can always say no, that’s their choice. What’s the worst that could happen?  
  • Be a supporter of others. It’s a small world after all, champion each other regardless of whether they are considered your ‘competition’ or not. We all have our own unique strengths.  



Your time as a leader is very stretched, so it’s important to make sure that you are always making the best use of it and encourage great productive habits within your team.  

Conduct at time study 

Understanding what is happening for you right now; trends, triggers & targets – is a great place to start 

  • Take an A4 sheet of paper / spreadsheet – list out mon – fri across the top.   
  • List out everything (as you do it) on the day you start your time study – place a “mark” under the day for every 15 mins you do that task for (e.g., if you start your Monday with emails 0900-0930 then write emails to the left and place 2 “marks” under the Monday heading – yes include breaks & lunch! 
  • Run this for a week 
  • When you’ve completed it you’ll notice at least 2 things 
  • The tasks you’re spending too much or too little time on. 
  • The tasks you’re doing that are not adding value that you need to stop doing.  
  • Once you’ve completed your analysis write down the key actions that will help you become more productive. 


Simplify task management  

There are 4 things you can do with a task & you should ask yourself every time which one you’re going to do as they come in in the day (esp. if they are tasks that come up out of the blue) 

  • DO – commit & do the task 
  • DELEGATE – Find someone else in your team to do the task for you 
  • DELETE – Cut the task & don’t do it / say no 
  • DEFER – commit to / agree another time when you’ll do the task 


Identify behaviours that are getting in your way  

We all have times when we procrastinate / decide to get distracted.  Here is a model you can use to explore this in more detail: 

      P = P – I 

Performance = Potential – Interference 

  • Write down all the things that are causing you interference right now – include everything you can think of including internal & external factors through to mindset & development factors 
  • Highlight the areas of interference that are in your control in priority order 
  • Identify the factor that will positively impact your productivity & put a plan in place to tackle that (it could be training, a conversation, a tracker, an accountability partner or something else) 
  • Once tackled, moven onto the next one on your list 
  • By removing as much interference as possible you will in turn become more productive & focussed 



There are many different aspects to team productivity. Firstly, it’s important to focus on the entire system, as systemic team coaches we work with teams on all of these 5 areas.  

Here’s a few (non exhaustive) thought starter questions for you to explore how productive your team is. 

  • Understanding and clarifying ALL stakeholder expectations 
  1. To what extent do you have a shared purpose, goals and expectations? 
  2. What % of your time are you spending on future focus?  
  3. What future challenges are on the horizon?  


  • Building healthy and consistent stakeholder relationships  
  1. Do you have regular reviews and check-ins on stakeholder engagement? 
  2. Which stakeholders are you not engaging enough?  
  3. How far can each team member represent the whole team when engaging stakeholders?  


  • Clarifying team tasks (roles, responsibilities, and process) 
  1. What are the key elements of the team’s purpose, vision, strategy and objectives – how much are these jointly owned? 
  2. How defined are the team’s roles and responsibilities, where is there duplication? 
  3. What is clear and what is unclear within your team processes? 


  • Ensuring healthy team dynamics 
  1. Do your reward and bonus structures encourage collaborative working?  
  2. How safe do the team feel to air their views? What is not spoken about that needs to be addressed?  
  3. How much time is spent on face to face contact, connecting, and understanding each other fully? (with supporting behaviour profiling tools like DISC or others) 


  • Creating a culture of continuous learning: 
  1.  How often do you take time out to reflect and evaluate what is working, and what needs to be strengthened as a team? 
  2. How well does the team collectively learn and adapt to new challenges, and support the learning of its members?  
  3. Your team uses regular feedback, challenge and support from within and outside the team to support collective development  

Source: – © 2023 Copyright owned or licensed to GTCI by Renewal Associates

Further reading around setting great habits: 

Eat that Frog – Brian Tracy   

Atomic Habits – James Clear 

The Book of Boundaries – Melissa Urban