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2019: Time to Maximize

In the new year, a new chapter starts. Which direction will your team take as we leave 2018 behind? Whether you aim to drive more business, complete challenging projects or help your team learn something new, it will be important optimize every minute. This is the year to stick with initiatives and maximize efforts. If you found 4% more time to complete your goals each day, where could the organization be by the end of 2019? Here are a few ways leaders can propel their teams to a fulfilling, productive year.

The 4% challenge:

As you head into 2019, challenge yourself to find 4% more time in your day, week and year. That small amount of time (just 4%!) can be integral to elevating your team’s success in 2019. The breakdown speaks for itself: One hour is just 4% of your day, and 4% of your week is nearly seven hours! Think about what you could do with an extra seven hours per week, or 365 more hours per year. As a leader, encourage your team to take on this mindset. That’s an hour extra each day to read something that can help you grow, enjoy a team building activity or attend workshops and networking events.

Rather than making excuses, try to shift your perspective and dedicate one hour (or 4%) of your day to enhancing the team in 2019. Many professionals wish they had more hours in the day, but when you think about 60 minutes as just 4%, it may help you find the time.

Find focus:

For a successful 2019, focus is key. And as a leader, it’s your job to cultivate it. According to a recent Gallup study, deep work, which requires our full attention and mental effort, is a valuable tool for productivity. When employees are completely captivated on challenging, fulfilling tasks, it can help accomplish more long-term goals.

Consider having your team track how many hours they spend on deep work during the week to complete projects and initiatives that require complete concentration. Then, discuss how you can help employees find more time to focus. Maybe they need to find a quiet space in the office or occasionally work remote to eliminate distractions. You may also suggest team members integrate time for focused work into their calendars. According to Harvard Business Review, peak times of focus typically start at 8 a.m. and decline until about 2 p.m. It can vary from person to person, so evaluate when employees are most focused and encourage them to integrate time in their schedules to complete important activities.

Another key to finding focus is creating clear goals. What will your team accomplish this year individually and as a whole? Identify objectives and challenges your team will face in the year ahead, and write them down. Encourage the team to keep a visual reminder of these goals at their desks and in their calendars. Seeing it often helps achieve it.

Optimize time:

Optimize time to foster good work habits and increase productivity on your team. Lead by example and show employees that you value making every minute count. As we get busier in work and life, it can be easy to let go of simple tools that keep us on track. In 2019, get back to the basics and ensure employees have a daily schedule that will help them stay organized. Consider focusing on three priorities each day to stay on top of larger goals.

Microsoft’s Director of Business, J.D. Meier uses this concept, which he calls the “rule of three,” to plan out the day, week and year. His book, Getting Results the Agile Way, explains how concentrating on three tasks can help your team work more deliberately. “I originally focused on the rule of three because when my manager asked me what the team achieved for the week, he didn’t want a laundry list. He was willing to listen to three compelling outcomes.”

Have the team share out their priorities to hold each other accountable and stay on track. Inevitably, you may come across unexpected day-to-day challenges, but focusing on three large tasks to accomplish can help you and the team stay focused.