Here are a few of the tricks I used back when I was an employee. These are some of the things I did to help me thrive and actually get real work done even in the midst of that extremely busy job position...

  • I would turn down meeting requests, even with people who were my superiors. When I was invited to a meeting I always tried to find out what it was about. As soon as I‘d see a calendar invitation I would call who invited me and say: „Thank you so much for inviting me to the XY meeting. What will I decide or contribute in it? How can I best prepare?“ 80% of the time this would trigger the preparation checklist of the host (What will we create or decide? Is it just sharing information? What will be Simon‘s contribution?). 

Learn to say „no“ in a professional way. Peter Drucker said the most important productivity tool is learning to politely decline. By learning to say "no", I regained hours every week that I could use to get real work done.

  • I had a onepager on the wall over my desk, with my priorities. The 3 key objectives of the next 3 months where always in front of me. And for every objective the 3 main results, as tangible outcomes. They changed regularly, which was not a problem. The point was to keep them simple and visual.

A key moment of managing complexity is visualization. It always help to see what is going on. It helps keeping your focus on your priorities.

  • I‘d scheduled meetings with myself. I needed at least 2 hours every day to work without distraction. So... I scheduled it. Then, if someone wanted to meet with me during that time I could tell them I already had something booked. It was true. 

If you need undistracted time to focus and work, then make that time and protect it.

  • I worked from home on Fridays. Not only did I need 2 hours a day of uninterrupted time, I also needed one whole day of deep work. This was when I would do the sort of tasks such as planning, strategizing, etc. that should take a couple of hours minimum to really make meaningful progress. It may feel pompous  to say "I’m taking the whole day on Friday to work from home". But, it was the right thing to do. It was necessary. I had to take that time so I could focus on the important work and plan for our long-term goals and objectives.

Make doing your most important work a priority; think outside the box for how you can make that happen. Even if it’s not daily. Start small and keep rolling.

simon severino