How To Get Things Done Like the Ultra Achievers

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You have probably come across the phrase ‘You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé.” The singer, mother and entrepreneur is frequently listed as one of the most influential people in the world.

How does she manage to step up to the plate and give her best to each of these roles?

This same question applies to other powerful, successful and  ever-busy people from presidents, to technology gurus, media moguls to renowned lifestyle virtuosos…how do they remain productive, keep together and performing at their ultimate level in spite of the many tasks they need to attend to on a day to day basis?

Here’s what some of the most powerful people can teach you about getting the most important things done:

Arianna Huffington- Take that much needed break

imagesArianna Huffington is a busy woman. She is president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a content platform that attracts more than 200 million unique monthly visitors.

Huffington is a big proponent of mindfulness and rest. You would think that such a high-flying media mogul would suggest that people work more hours to get more done. However, she recommends the opposite—get more rest. She has been quoted saying that her number one productivity tip is to stop what she is doing and get some sleep.

In his book, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, David Randall notes that sleep, even just a small nap allows the brain to work at a higher level, boosts creativity and augments a person’s ability to solve problems efficiently.

With an enviable level of success to show for it, Huffington is certainly reaping the benefits of getting enough rest.

Steve Jobs- Assigning responsibility and accountability

The deceased founder, chairperson, and CEO of Apple Inc.  is famously known for his adamant emphasis on productivity,  superior quality and always being at the top of his game.

Jobs was frequently criticized for his difficult-to-work-with, in-your-face personality. He was closely involved with all aspects of his company from product design, development, marketing and advertising, all the way to sales.

Even then, Jobs fully understood and leveraged the power of delegation. He obviously could not do everything on his own and so he developed a system of assigning responsibility over a project to an individual person, also known as the directly responsible individual (DRI).

Each project at Apple Inc has a DRI who makes sure that the project is on track. Jobs would hold weekly meetings with DRIs to discuss project progress.

President Barack Obama- Limiting Information Overload

In an interview with Michael Lewis of Vanity Fair, President Obama admitted that he has so many decisions to make at any given time so he prefers that someone else deal with the mundane issues of what he wears and eats. This way, he can focus on the big decisions that come with the job.

In addition to prioritizing and filtering out the unimportant stuff, the president also prefers to simplify the decision making process. Without a doubt, many of the decisions he has to make are life and death, complex judgments. Simplifying the process is intended to allow him to make better decisions.

The White House staff usually deliver simplified decision memos with three check boxes—‘agree’, ‘disagree’ or ‘let’s talk about it’. This way, he is able to quickly make clear decisions without being bogged down by too much information.

Ursula Burns- Just Chill Out a Little Bit

6a010535d58d31970b0120a9504022970bAs the Chairman and CEO of Xerox, wife and mother, Ursula Burns wears plenty of hats.

She is widely seen as an inspiration for being the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. In her capacity as CEO, Burns is credited for her role in transforming Xerox from a printing and copy company to a leading technology firm.

Burns’ work is demanding but she admits that taking some time off, to ‘chill out a little bit’ allows her to recoup, to gain new perspectives and to remain grounded.

On balancing work and life, she recommends that women (and men) focus on achieving balance throughout their lifetime, not in a month or a year’s time. The idea is that attaining true balance is not a one-time event; rather it is a series of actions, decisions and choices that allow you to meet your work obligations and to tend to your personal life in the present.

How to Get Things Done

Most powerful and successful people have one thing in common: They have learnt the art of simplifying their lives through delegation, prioritizing, and simplifying. Do you want to make the most of your day? Perhaps you should consider focusing on the most important stuff, allow others to help you and simplify your decision-making process to avoid being overwhelmed by a long to-do list.

3 Comments

  1. Andrew,

    Great information. Sometimes it may seem like the people referred to in this post (President, Beyonce, Arianna Huffington) are doing something “magical” or they have a ton of personal assistants to help them get everything done in a single day. Where in fact they are like you and I and approach their tasks in a simple fashion.

    I strive to “eat the elephant” one bite at a time. I make a list of 3 to 4 things each day that need to be done starting with the task that is most important or the hardest to complete. This way I produce quality results virtually all of the time instead of some of the time. This allows me to be highly productive and does not take away from my family which is the most important thing to me.

    Kurt

    • Hi Kurt, it’s a great strategy. Often it’s a powerful practice to get that big task done first. Glad to hear you have a system that gets results. I also like that you focus on 3 or 4 tasks a day. Often people can find getting through a longer list intimidating. Thanks for taking the time to check out the article and leave a comment. Appreciate it!

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