Productivity lessons: Ignore perfectionism and seek effectiveness

To get things done in a team, put someone in charge.

In a team, if the responsibility for a project is distributed equally among team members, no one person will feel that they're in charge. Consequently, nothing will get done – not on time, at least. But if you ensure that one team member is made responsible for the whole team's outcome, the chances that important tasks will be actioned increase dramatically.

Be organized but flexible. 

Don't try to manage every little aspect of your work, as this won't make you more productive. Instead, it will consume too much of your precious time and energy – resources that are better used elsewhere. Of course, you do need to have an organizational plan, but it should be flexible at the same time.

Ignore perfectionism and seek effectiveness 

At one time or another, you've probably spent so much time on small, simple tasks that you never got around to completing the tasks that truly matter. That's why, when doing work, it's important to get the smaller pieces out of the way right off the bat.

After all, spending too much time on a small, low-priority task will waste both your time and your patience. So instead of allocating a lot of time to work that's not super important, do the simple things quickly to free up more time for the meatier tasks.

For instance, each day you'll be faced with different requests from your colleagues, your boss and your family. As these tasks come in, it's important to decide as quickly as possible whether or not you're going to handle them. If you are, it's then up to you to do so hastily.

A good approach here is to apply the OHIO principle, also known as "Only Handle it Once." For example, say you receive an email inviting you to a conference. You quickly browse the email then set it aside. Three days later, you remember the message, but don't remember the name of the sender. As a result, you spend countless minutes scrolling back through your inbox. From there, you've got to read it again, wasting yet more time!

On the other hand, if you were using the OHIO principle, you'd check if the date was free and the topic interesting and make a decision straight away.

Another way to move forward with your work, is to fight the temptation to be perfect when it comes to your low-priority tasks. Remember that not everything needs to be done flawlessly. You should reserve this privilege for your top-level work, since this is what your boss will see and judge.

Nobody is going to be pleased if you spend loads of time answering meaningless emails, so handle such tasks accordingly: get through them quickly and move on to the important stuff.