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A Leader's Guide to an Efficient Day

November 14, 20234 min read

One of the needs I frequently discover in coaching is that most leaders do not really have a system to help them operate or function.

They are typically gifted people who have a great deal of personal drive. They frequently succeed, so they do not really have to create a personal system to do so.

In reality, even successful people can be more successful, if they take the time to develop their own personal operational system.

What do I mean by this? In short, I am referring to a personalized system that enables them to become better organized and be more productive.

Many organizational operation systems exist. Although there are strengths and weaknesses with each one, no one system fits everyone. That is why it is best to develop your own system based on your personality, strengths, and even your weaknesses.

Below are five guidelines to assist you in creating your personalized system!


Gain clarity about your responsibilities.

The importance of clarifying your responsibilities cannot be overestimated. Many people just work. Their goal is to accomplish whatever is in front of them. However, gaining clarity exponentially improves a person’s accomplishments.  

When have you recently asked yourself this question: “What should I be working on?” Many people work hard. Asking this question allows you to work smart.  

Just because something needs to be done doesn’t mean you are the one that should do it. Choosing to do the right things is critical. Making the right choices requires clarity. Clarity enables you to choose the best system to get those things done.

Gain Clarity

Prioritize your responsibilities.

Once a person gains clarity, he needs to prioritize his responsibilities. Prioritizing enables a person to do the right things in the right order.

On most days, leaders have more tasks to do than time to do them. So, choosing the order in which you do things becomes important. At the end of the day, if something goes undone, it should be the less important responsibility.

Take a few minutes every day to make sure you are working on the most important tasks. Doing so requires deep thought and broad consideration. Spending that time empowers you to have a greater impact.

Organize your responsibilities.

Organizing responsibilities increases efficiency. Even if you have clarity and prioritize your responsibilities, accomplishing a specific task requires a certain level of organization.

Many people work “on the fly.” They jump from task to task without giving much thought to being efficient with their time and efforts. Doing so results in waste of time and economy of activity.

Taking the time to plan what you are going to do, when you are going to do it, and how you will accomplish it improves your level of efficiency. People often find themselves backtracking to accomplish tasks that could have been done earlier, simply because they didn’t really plan how they would execute their responsibilities.

Good planning and organization raise your efficiency level. They allow you to become much more effective.

Execute your responsibilities.

So many people do what they do based on how they feel. If they feel like doing certain tasks, they complete them. If they don’t feel like doing them, they fail to do them.

While a person can certainly schedule certain tasks during a daily period of time when his energy is high, the more critical concern is simply executing what needs to be done.

High execution requires focus and discipline. Great leaders discipline their minds, bodies, and energy to execute, regardless of how they feel or what obstacles might appear.

Just doing it appears to be easy, but it is not. Therefore, approach each day with a determination to get done what must be done, no matter what.

Measure Task Completion

Measure your task-completion.

One of the best habits a person can develop is looking back over his day to determine how well he used his day. Unless you take time to self-evaluate, you don’t really know what happened.  

Such evaluation can be accomplished in multiple ways: checking off a list, recording labors in a journal, etc. The important factor is to develop some means to measure whether you got done what needed to be done.

Don’t base your assessment on how you feel. Feelings can deceive you. You can feel good about a day that accomplished very little, or you can feel bad about a day in which you accomplished a great deal. Use measurable metrics to gauge the success of your day.

Designing a system that fits you allows you to show up at your best. Everyone wants to grow personally and improve continually. Growth doesn’t happen accidentally. It requires you to take ownership of your gifting, your time, your skills, and your responsibilities. Developing a system that fits you raises your leadership to a high level.

If you haven’t developed your personal operational system, work hard to do so. You will not regret it!


Highly Productive Employee System Checklist


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Dave Pennington PhD

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