When reading up on management, you can't help but come across the name of Peter F. Drucker.
He wrote 30+ books on the topic and his teachings are integrated deep within business practices we're familiar with today.
Not only did he coin the term, "knowledge worker," but many of the quotes being thrown around the web today came from him or his books as well:
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
So it was only a matter of time that I myself picked up one of his books, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done, a must-read for anyone serious about productivity.
Inside, Drucker explains business effectiveness as a result of five core practices and suggests that effectiveness isn't only something that can be learned, it must be developed.
Here are my 3 Takeaways:
01. Find Out Where Your Time Goes
As an executive, your time is most precious and most sought-after. Colleagues, subordinates, and superiors — all these people will vie for your time using favors, proposals, requests, questions, clarifications, and advice. It's up to you, therefore, to guard your time and allocate it selectively.
For these reasons, it's important to find out where your time actually goes. Before you plan, strategize, or delegate, first know what activities consume your hours the most and the least. This means literally recording what tasks you're currently prioritizing and who you meet with on a regular basis.
By doing so, you'd be able to manage your time more effectively. Almost immediately, you'd be able to identify and eliminate tasks that need not be on your schedule. You'd be able to make better decisions regarding what you can automate and delegate so you're left with only the most important tasks that you alone can do. You might even avoid wasting other people's time by recognizing their areas of effectiveness in relation to your own. Lastly, you'd be able to measure your output against the most limited of resources: time.
02. Focus On Contribution
Speaking of output, effective executives know to focus on contribution. Instead of concentrating solely on efforts, they are occupied with outcomes. According to Drucker, this refers to performance in three major areas:
- Direct results
- Building of values and their reaffirmation, and
- Building and developing people of tomorrow.
They know that all their planning is worthless if it can't be backed up by meeting or exceeding targets and generating results. When focused on the contribution, you're more likely to demand higher standards for yourself and the organization you serve. You're concentrated on the "ends" not just the means.
As Drucker wrote, "Commitment to contribution is commitment to responsible effectiveness. Without it, a man shortchanges himself, deprives his organization, and cheats the people he works with."
03. Put First Things First
Any top performer knows that there will always be more tasks to do than there is enough time to do it all. The question, therefore, is, "Which areas deserve concentration in order to generate outstanding results?"
This is where prioritization comes in. This means putting first things first, learning how to say "no," and developing self-discipline. But more than setting priorities, effective executives need to also set "posteriorities" or identifying the tasks that should not be tackled and sticking to that decision.
"If there is any one 'secret' of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things first and they do one thing at a time." - Peter F. Drucker
It isn't enough for an executive nowadays to simply get things done. It's more important to know how to get the right things done and to prioritize effectiveness, not just efficiency. As with productivity, remember to find out where your time goes, focus on contribution, and put first things first.
Want to put these takeaways into action?
Since one of the best ways to improve ourselves is to commit to continuous learning, this post is part of the blog mini-series called 3 Takeaways where I discuss three insights from thought-provoking leaders, books, and podcasts on a monthly basis.
My purpose initially was to simply read more books, but the learnings were too valuable to keep to myself. My goal has since been to share the vital lessons that will help you be productive and free.
Want to read this book yourself?
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