The Finance Leader Podcast

097: Improving Our Productivity

November 08, 2022 Stephen McLain Season 12 Episode 2
The Finance Leader Podcast
097: Improving Our Productivity
The Finance Leader Podcast +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript

How productive are you during the day? Is your day filled with distractions? Do you have set templates and use your available tools to make your workday easier especially for routine tasks? Having a productive day begins with our mindset. Use the tools you have available to make your work day more productive. Develop systems for routine work. Protect your time and your team and focus on adding value where you can to make a positive impact across the organization. Let’s all have more productive days where we focus our energy and attention on more essential and the most urgent of our tasks.

Episode outline:

  1. Have a plan each day,
  2. Find efficiencies in every task,
  3. Maximize your tools,
  4. Protect your time as best you can, and 
  5. Add value to every task and project you work on. 

Please connect with me on:

1. Instagram: stephen.mclain
2. Twitter: smclainiii
3. Facebook: stephenmclainconsultant
4. LinkedIn: stephenjmclainiii

Consider joining The Finance Leader Podcast Community Facebook Group, where we can talk leadership and the other topics I present here on the podcast.  This is a good time to jump in and start sharing ideas and thoughts about leadership so we can help each other.

For more resources, please visit On the website, you can download the Leadership Growth Blueprint for Finance and Accounting Managers. You can use this guide to develop your leadership by focusing on communication, and growing and empowering your team.

You can now purchase a course to help you advance your career from It's called Advance Your Finance and Accounting Career: Developing a Promotion Strategy that Sets You Apart.

Support the show
Stephen McLain:

This week is all about productivity. how productive Are you during the day? Is your day filled with distractions? Do you have set templates and use your available tools to make your workday easier, especially for routine tasks.Having a productive day begins with our mindset. Use the tools you have available to make your workday more productive. develop systems for routine work,protect your time and your team and focus on adding value where you can to make a positive impact across the organization.Let's all have more productive days where we focus our energy and attention on more essential and the most urgent of our tasks. Please enjoy the episode.Welcome to the finance leader podcast where leadership is bigger than the numbers. I am your host, Stephen McLean. This is the podcast for developing leaders in finance and accounting. Please consider following me on Twitter,Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. My usernames and the links are in this episode's show notes. And also, please join the Facebook group I have for this podcast community. Thank you.This is episode number 97. And I'll be talking about our productivity and I will highlight the following topics.Number one, have a plan each day. Number two, find efficiencies in every task.Number three, maximize your tools. Number four, protect your time as best you can. And five add value to every task and project you work on. author Stephen Covey said the key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. How was your week?How was your day? Maybe it hasn't started yet. I love starting out the day. There's a ton of possibilities, but also many distractions competing for your time and effort. I love starting out knowing that my team will get a lot done today.Because I am trying to do my best to set them up for success.We will find opportunities, we will find insights and we will solve problems and that is very exciting to me. I love to find ways to grow the business to find a way to make something better and to use my leadership to bring about a positive outcome. In my last episode,Episode 96 I talked about leaving in a challenging environment. We don't want to be complacent leaders waiting on things to happen around us. We want to be agents of change who are ready to take on challenges and who can provide a vision and a plan to help the team prioritize and focus. If you did not listen to that episode.Please go back and listen. I believe it will help you do you enjoy showing up to work. When you don't feel you can be productive. It affects how you approach your day, and it affects how you show up. Your day begins with your mindset.Your day begins with a blank slate full of possibilities. How prepared are you to begin the day mentally and spiritually.Your day should begin with a mindset that is strong and ready to lead and ready to achieve excellence. finance and accounting work can be challenging, especially around monthly or year end close. Every day. focus your effort on what's important and what is essential.Eliminate any task or requirement that adds no immediate value and is not urgent, delay the non essential or in fact delegate to someone else for a later date. Learn to say no to tasks that take you away from what is more urgent or doesn't support the strategy.Efficient output requires a focus on productivity and prioritizing. Whatever you do always strive to add value.Protect your day, protect your time and protect your team. Have a plan for each day. Be watchful and careful for anything that can derail your output. You can't control when a senior leader will intervene into your day asking for something. But you can protect your team from around the company for mundane,non essential requests that use up precious time and effort.Maximize your tools and find ways to save time. routine work should have automated processes and set templates drop in the fresh data into a set model to produce a quick output so you can send the analysis forward.Use automation wherever you can in the projects and daily analysis work you and your team are doing refresh those models and ensure they are accurate,but minimize the manual manipulations you have to do automate as much as possible.Check your what your team is working on and how they have the model set up. They may Be more manual than you are aware of right now. How do you process paper that arrives on your desk?Do you have a filing system? Are you keeping everything? are you prioritizing what you keep? Or are you stacking papers everywhere. I am not always good at this either. But I will review what I have, and start to file or throw away based on how important a document may be. Or if I have an electronic copy on a device, control how much paper you have, so you stay organized.I had a boss in the Pentagon,when I was on the army staff that used to keep just about everything that was handed to him. Every briefing every presentation every point paper,he kept the paper copy of everything that was handed to him. Because he did not want anything to be thrown away. He did not want to not have immediate access to that document or presentation. So he kept everything. So he had stacks of paper everywhere around his office. And it's very hard to stay organized when you have stacks of paper everywhere.As the leader you are here to add value no matter what you are working on. Add value in every process, every task every conversation you have. And every time you speak with your team.Every time you speak with a senior leader appear or someone who does not work on your team.How can you make what you say and what you do mean more and add more value. Most everyone desires to work on something that matters which can excite us for the day. When you combine better productivity with what you love to do, it can make your overall work experience better.As leaders, we should strive to help our team members achieve such a state and what they set out to accomplish every day.maximizing productivity for your team is a constant leadership exercise. It requires proper situational analysis and taking actions to set up your team for success. I am not talking about micromanaging, but setting the conditions so they maximize their time and their effort to succeed. Always protecting their time saying and enforcing no to distractions that can cause someone to sway from a more urgent matter. For example, your monthly clothes schedule should be published with dates and have a formal process to know what is getting processed when and who is responsible for each step.Nothing interrupts monthly clothes unless it means something of an emergency nature. Learn to lead and prioritize effectively. So productivity naturally becomes a part of the day. Now let's talk about maximizing our productivity. Number one, have a plan each day. I want to encourage you to begin the day with the right mindset a mindset of achievement, ready to attack the day and keep the day moving the way you want it to move.Tell yourself that nothing will derail you from accomplishing your most important tasks and objectives of the day. Do you have a morning and evening routine that helps clarify and organize what you can accomplish so you are more organized. Being organized leads to better productivity or you are prioritizing your tasks. So you accomplishing urgent and essential tasks first, while delaying anything non essential.A non essential tasks can sometimes tricking you into thinking it may be more essential than it really is this happens all the time. Be focused and know what is urgent. Ensure that each day you eliminate or delay any non essential non urgent tasks and requirements.Number two find efficiencies in every task. There are some tasks that tend to be more routine,like a weekly or daily report,or when we work on monthly close. So I want to encourage you to build templates and easy to plug in models so that it's easier and quicker for you to accomplish those types of tasks.Further, make sure all your routine tasks are automated as much as they can be. Data inquiries should be automated so you don't have to manually pull data. You should see data polls sent to your email inbox talking with your IT team to see what they can run automatically. Try to find a more efficient way for low value tasks that must be done. So you maximize your time for forward thinking for leading and to help build the business.Let's not commit huge amounts of time to routine work. automate routine and low value must get done tasks. This will make your day easier. Number three,maximize your tools. Find ways to maximize the apps you use organize your data or other products within the apps so you can more easily process information and tasks. store information in a more organized way so you can retrieve it easier later. This happens often when you need to retrieve something you worked on previously, or a critical piece of information you may need later. Use calendars and checklists so you organize your meetings you're dead lanes, your tasks, and your thoughts and try to share information across your devices. See what your organization uses to share information across your devices like OneDrive, or Dropbox, or other sharing apps. Number four,protect your time as best you can. Use your calendar to schedule out your day block time where appropriate. Always guard against distractions. Say no to anything that is not urgent and adds value. You can't always protect against a senior leader who comes to you and takes over your day, or even a week with an urgent tasks. And protect your team always from distractions and low value requests that can wait for another day. Number five, add value to every task and project you work on. Focus on what's important. Your immediate work should be what's urgent, we all have tasks that must be done. That seemed non essential. But if you don't do them, something will be lost.Work to add value lots of value to every task, every conversation and every interaction, build value across the team and across the organization. When we work on something important, or we get to add value, we feel more likely to be appreciated in our work. I believe that when we feel valued, we're more likely to be happy to show up to work with a great attitude. And a great mindset is everyone on your team working on a project or a task that gives them happiness and appreciation in their work. This is important.Take a look at how your team's tasks are distributed.This was a great rundown of the issues that I have to apply to my own life and my own work situation. I need to get more efficient with my tasks and use the tools that I have. I need to process the paper that comes into my life including the mail that gets delivered each day.Ideally, you should process the mail as you receive it, I do get mostly junk mail. So that needs to be scrubbed for any personal information, and then shredded into disposed of quickly. But overall, I need to organize the information that I have a little better, and to also use the apps in the most efficient way. I still have a lot of work to do to ensure my own day is maximized for adding the most value and social all of us. Now for action today. I want to encourage you to start each day with a plan and to use your leadership skills to encourage more positive outcomes. How do you close out each day? And how do you begin each day? Do you know what you want to accomplish and what you need to accomplish as each day begins? Do you maximize your tools and ensure you focus only on the essential and urgent tasks first, and always remember to set up your team for success. If you have not already, I want to invite you to download a leadership guide for finance and accounting leaders, you can go to Finance leader and select Free leadership guide on the main menu. It's free, and it may give you a few ideas for your own leadership development.Today I talked about maximizing our own productivity and I highlighted the following points. Number one, have a plan each day. Number two, find efficiencies in every task.Number three, maximize your tools. Number four, protect your time as best you can. And five add value to every task and project you work on. We are all different when it comes to productivity and how we approach being organized. Some thrive in chaos and messiness, and some need to be exactly neat and a lot of us are in the middle somewhere. We can all gain some advantages by being a little more organized and to also use leadership to create more positive outcomes for ourselves and for our team. I make a decision every day to be up early to start my day immediately no matter what day it is. I rarely sleep in. And the latest I would sleep in would be probably about 730 But I'm usually up and ready to work before 6am I thrive on the morning atmosphere. It has lots of possibilities of getting tasks done. I absolutely love it. I brew coffee and then attack my to do list that works for me. What works for you to gain more productivity. I hope you enjoyed the finance leader podcast I am dedicated to helping you grow your leadership skills to change your mindset and to clarify your goals so you advance your career. You can find this episode wherever you listen to podcasts. If this episode helped you today, please share and leave a quick review so that others may find the podcast. Until next time, you can check out more resources at finance leader and sign up for my weekly updates so you don't miss an episode of the podcast. And now go lead your team and I'll see you next time.Thank you