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Self-Leadership: Five tools I use to be productive

The First Job of a Leader is Self-Leadership

I’ve shared on several other blogs earlier this year the importance of a leader leading himself or herself first.   Much of self-leadership has to do with personal integrity, character and living by a moral compass.  But some of self-leadership simply has to do with living in a competent, disciplined way.  I use five tools to help me keep the promises I make to others (and myself).

Here are the five tools I use to do so.

Master Calendar: Informant

I live in a cross-platform world, and have slowly moved my computer-based personal management system to the Cloud.  These days I use Informant as my master calendar.  It works on my mac, it works on my phone, it works on my tablet.  It has lots of bells-and-whistles, and can be viewed in day view, week view, month view and annually.  Like any good computer-based calendar system, it’s got col0r-coding for different types of appointments, and allows for alarms and addresses to be included in appointments.

Personal Task List: ToodleDo.com

I use ToodleDo.com to help me keep track of my various tasks.  This free, on-line service allows me to organize my various responsibilities in an easy-to-see, comprehensive way.  Over the years, this website and app have become much more robust, and now allow for tasks, notes, folders, contexts, etc.  If you are a fan of either the Getting-Things-Done method or the Franklin-Covey method of organizing tasks, ToodleDo can be modified to meet your needs.

Shared Goals: Trello

In the past year, I was introduced to Trello as a way to collaborate on joint activities.  Trello is both a website and an app.  If you can visualize different colored sticky notes or 3×5 cards on your computer screen that can be moved around and modified by whoever is invited into a board, you’ve got a sense of what Trello looks like. Today I use a Trello board with my executive assistant so that we can each see what each of us is working on.  I also use a separate Trello board for mutual goal-setting and accountability with the CEO Roundtable I run.

Personal Goals: Weekly Audit

Earlier this year I recognized the need to clarify the difference between the urgent things I got done each week, and the important, big picture things that advance my various endeavors but may not be on the urgent list.  Things like writing this weekly blog, attending to my personal fitness, working on business strategy and finances, etc.  What Sean Covey in his book, The Four Disciplines of Execution, would call getting “above the whirlwind.” To do so, I created a simple weekly audit that sits on my iPad.  This weekly audit has 24 items on it, from the writing I need to do to the exercise I need to get, that provide me an opportunity to check-off the bigger-picture, longer-term things I’m working on.

One-Place-To-Catch-Everything: Microsoft OneNote

I’ve been a user of Evernote for several years as a place to capture notes, quick items and things I want to file away for future reference.  In the past few months, Evernote started charging for some of it’s services.  At the same time, I read several reviews that indicated Microsoft’s OneNote, a competitor of Evernote, had improved it’s game enough to be considered for the same type of use.  This summer I converted over all my existing Evernote files and folders to OneNote, and I’m slowly getting the hang of using this new app as the place to capture things.  So far, so good.  While I’m not an expert, I’m becoming increasingly comfortable with how OneNote works, and it is becoming the repository for the same types of files that I used to use Evernote for.

These tools aren’t the answer

What tools you use don’t matter, but what does matter is that each of us who aspires to grow in our leadership must recognize that we need to lead ourselves first.  How do you do so?