The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

I read the book, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done based on the advice of Tim Ferriss. He recommended it in his video, How to Start a Business or Podcast From Scratch.

Here are some of my key takeaways:

Time Management

  • Time is everything. We need to be diligent in managing our time.
  • Do a time audit. Write down how you spend your time in a typical day rather than just thinking about how you spend your time. You’ll be surprised how you’re actually spending it. (You can use a time tracker like toggl for this.)
  • Avoid meetings. In the ideal situation, there would be no meetings. Everyone would be doing their work and know exactly what to do.
  • People waste the executive’s time, but the executive also wastes a lot of his subordinate’s time with ineffective meetings.
  • If you are going to have a meeting. You should be spending a lot of time preparing for the meeting to make sure it isn’t ineffective.
  • Learn to manage your superior. Prep for your meeting with your superior, so you don’t waste their time.

Decision Making

  • Rather than solving problems, effective executives focus on making a few good decisions. 
  • Never expect that everything will go right. An effective executive knows things will go wrong and plans for those situations.
  • Constantly reassess your situation. Ask: “If we didn’t already do this, would we go into it now?”
  • Police all programs and focus on the ones that really make a difference.
  • Test your ideas. Spell out the criteria for good decisions.
  • Get disagreement to make good decisions don’t start out with the conclusion.
  • Don’t rush into a decision. 

Effectiveness is About Discipline

  • Common people can learn to attain uncommon effectiveness.
  • It’s not about getting things done; being effective is about doing the right things well. 
  • Get better at time management – record time and analyze time wasters.
  • Assume responsibility for results. 
  • Ask: “Why am I on the payroll?” Set high standards for yourself.
  • Learn through doing.
  • Focus on the end product. 
  • Practice foresight and courage.
  • Learn to make rational actions. Use Benchmarks. Do a procedural analysis. Learn new work habits. 
  • Your analysis should inform you, but you need to act with courage to create the spark for action.

Act with Courage 

  • Focus on the future.
  • Look at the opportunities rather than the problems.
  • Chose your own direction.
  • Aim high rather than for safety.
  • Ask: “What will I do on Monday that is different?

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