Productivity hacks for CEOs have evolved over the years from a simple to-do list to biohacking, but here we all are, still mysteriously disappearing into our versions of The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity, never to be found again until the end of the workday.
So doesn’t it make you wonder if these productivity hacks actually work? Or if they’re nothing but productivity quacks, which do nothing to improve your performance?
But Before We Talk About Productivity Hacks For CEOs, We Need To Talk About Procrastination
We All Have An Instant Gratification Monkey Inside Of Us And It Wants To Play.
It wants you to keep scrolling through your LinkedIn feed. (FOMO networking opportunities Activate!)
It wants you to clean up your Inbox. (Only after you achieve Zero Inbox can you focus on what you should be doing.)
It wants you to make your to-do list for tomorrow. (Because planning for the things you should be doing is the best!)
Who cares if your deadline is tomorrow? Who cares that you’re one big anxious stressed out mess trying to get
something anything done last minute, right? As long your Instant Gratification Monkey gets his fun, and you can pretend to be productive because you made the deadline, who cares right?
Well, you should.
Because what you’ve really done is hop on an unsustainable cycle of fake productivity, causing you to feel stressed, anxious, and guilty all the time. Working like this all the time not only compromises the quality of your work, it also puts your physical and mental health at risk as well.
So Why Do You Do It? Why Do You Procrastinate?
Because It’s Your Emotion-Centered Coping Strategy.
As ironic as it sounds, you procrastinate because you want to avoid stress. What this means is, procrastination is your brain’s flight response to tasks that it thinks will be stressful, harmful, and painful – a.k.a everything else you need to be doing right now but aren’t.
And to justify your procrastination, you start planning. You plan endlessly, and this makes you feel good. So you make another plan on how you can improve your current plan. And now you’re stuck in this planning loop, where nothing but a to-do list gets done.
Because Willpower Isn’t Enough.
In an experiment by Roy Baumeister, participants were asked to eat either a cookie or a slice of radish before solving a puzzle. He found that those who ate a radish, gave up after only eight minutes of working on the puzzle, while those who ate a cookie worked on it for a solid 19 minutes before calling it quits.
This phenomenon is called willpower depletion or ego depletion. It directly affects your anterior cingulate cortex or the area of your brain related to cognitive skills such as thinking, reasoning, and acquiring knowledge.
Simply put, productivity isn’t merely about time management, it’s also about energy management. Willpower can only take you so far before you give in to procrastination.
Because You Get Caught Up In The To-Dos That You Forget About Progress.
Philosopher, professional procrastinator, and author of The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing, John Perry says his to-do list looks something like this:
“Wake up. That’s worth a check. Get out of bed. That’s worth a check. Make the coffee. That’s a check. Drink the coffee. That’s a check. By the time I’ve had my coffee, I’ve done four things, and I feel like a real effective human being.”
The danger with this type of list is you start to measure productivity by how many tasks you’ve checked off your list (or retroactively added) instead of the quality of the tasks you’ve accomplished.
Or as Will Barfield calls it, the Growth Trap – where CEOs get caught up in the momentum and busywork of daily operations, that they end up working IN the business rather than ON the business.
Because Perfectionist Is Just Another Word For Procrastinator.
As David Ballard of the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence says, procrastination has two aspects – delaying the task and a counterproductive, irrational or unnecessary explanation on why you’re avoiding the task.
And for a procrastinator, all those counterproductive, irrational or unnecessary conditions need to be met before they even attempt to start a task. So what ends up happening is, well, nothing. That’s what happens. Nothing.
Some psychologists interpret this behavior as fear of failure. Or to quote the greatest TV series of all time:
“You do not lose, if you do not play.”
But remember, not playing means you don’t win either.
So What Productivity Hacks For CEOs Work In Overcoming Procrastination?
This is probably the last thing business owners want to find in a productivity hacks for CEOs list. However, a large body of research supports the idea that working less leads to more productivity.
For one thing, research suggests that we’re only productive for three hours in an 8-hour workday. The rest of the time, we’re trying to accomplish a 2-hour task in eight hours, which is precisely the opposite of being productive.
Besides, the 8-hour work day is a relic of the Industrial Age. All it does is create an environment that breeds overworked and unhappy employees as well as CEOs, resulting in less productivity, less innovation, and inevitably less growth.
Eat Problems For Breakfast.
Problems are the breakfast of productive CEOs. Fire up your entrepreneurial mindset by starting your day tackling the most challenging task in your schedule.
Don’t give yourself time to procrastinate accomplishing what is often also work that generates the most value for your business.
As an entrepreneur, this means that if you want to create more efficient systems for your business, then you better chip away at big, long-term projects the way you chip away at a stack of pancakes.
Productivity hacks for CEOs often only focus on the business and forget about the CEOs themselves.
Whether it’s taking short breaks in between tasks or sabbaticals to refresh your creativity. Or making a habit to exercise like Zuckerberg, Branson, and Oprah, don’t forget to put self-care in your schedule.
Because investing in self-care is investing in your business. The increased focus and energy that comes with self-care helps you perform better as a CEO. And that, is good for business.
So if you want to maximize the effects of these productivity hacks for CEOs, combine them with our work life balance tips for CEOs and say goodbye to procrastination.