High-Performance Leadership Strategies to Get Focused, Be Clear, and Stay on Target During the COVID-19 Crisis

To stay focused and continue delivering clear and targeted leadership during these uncertain times, leaders need to commit to routines and habits that allow them to focus on their work, teams, and business objectives.

During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders have had to manage their feelings of being off-balance from interrupted work routines and the distractions within their home-work space. Some leaders are distracted by their thoughts—worry that their jobs are in jeopardy, unsure of how to effectively motivate and inspire remote teams, and distracted by their own stress.

Many leaders feel drained and unfocused due to disrupted exercise routines, lack of social connection, not having their team physically available to them, emerging sleep issues, and the lack of a real work structure. Leaders also are face additional challenges with distractions from having children and/or partners at home.

To stay focused and continue delivering clear and targeted leadership during these uncertain times, leaders need to commit to routines and habits that allow them to focus on their work, teams, and business objectives.

Here are a few high-performance leadership strategies that will help you to be focused and clear, so you show up as your best self and convey strength and confidence.

1. Commit to only your high-value activities.

Your glucose (sugar level) is at its highest in the morning. Take advantage of this and structure your mornings to work on your high-value activities. Think of your brain as a small playground with three swings and a large group of kids who want to swing. Not everyone can be on all the swings at the same time. The kids will need to form a line based on your criteria of who should go first. By using this analogy, you can see that not all of your activities need your attention to the same degree.

Here is a strategy to help you determine which activities are of high value so the right tasks are receiving your best energy and focus:

Think about your tasks as being on a continuum of how much effort you must give them and then the level of impact from that effort. Then plot the best time for these activities based on your brain’s ability to focus on them at different times of the day. The following is an example of how to structure your day for high productivity if you have a typical daytime work schedule:

  • The High-Effort/High-Benefit tasks will require a significant amount of your energy and will yield a compelling impact. These are the activities to focus on in the morning, when your glucose is its highest and your attention level at its best.
  • Your High-Effort/Low-Benefit tasks will need a lot of your energy, as well, but the impact is low. These activities will feel daunting and uninspiring. Due to this, make sure you attack them secondarily in the mornings, when you can give this level of energy. Move through them quickly since your interest may wane easily.
  • When you have the mid-day slump due to your glucose being lower in the afternoon, tackle the Low-Effort/High-Benefit tasks. These tasks need little energy from you but yield a significant result.
  • Finally, focus on the Low-Effort/Low-Benefit tasks. These will need little energy and the impact is low. Do not focus on these in the mornings even though they are easy to check off your list and will feel like you are achieving some momentum. They are distracting and low in importance. They will drain your best and most focused time. Do these activities toward the end of the day.

2. Establish a productive work routine.

Working at home sounds inviting and easy until you realize you are having challenges focusing due to unexpected interruptions by unscheduled meetings, children and partners at home, social media pulling you in, and access to streaming devices.

These interruptions appear innocuous, but you may notice you are not focusing as well as you need to. You cannot seem to complete tasks with the ninja attention you had at the office. Here are strategies to improve your focus:

  • On weeknights, set up your workspace so that only the most important tasks are in view. This way you limit the probability of being distracted by the less important information. Your brain will try to process and make sense of what is on your desk and on your computer screen. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and a lowered focus.
  • Do not open e-mails or respond to texts until your high-value activities are completed. Leave your phone out of your workspace until activities are completed. When you have your phone near you again, turn off your notifications on your phone and computer while you are working. If social media browsing is tempting, then uninstall apps before bed and reinstall them after work hours.
  • Your home environment might be different right now with children and partners at home. If you know the mornings are busy with their routines, then make sure to get up before everyone else so you can commit to your routine.

Leaders who commit to high-performance strategies to address distractions and stress will experience greater focus and productivity. This will allow them to be clear and stay on target during this time of change and uncertainty.

Phyllis Reagin, founder of At the Coach’s Table, is a doctoral-trained leadership coach who has guided thousands of entertainment/media leaders to lead with greater influence, meaning, and impact. Reagin has a unique lens into this demanding industry, as a former leader with a Fortune 500 entertainment/media company. She provides her clients with high-performance leadership strategies that move them from leading well to leading with excellence. For more high-performance leadership strategies, follow her blog: At the Coach’s Table.

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