4 Tips for Maintaining a High Level of Personal Effectiveness

August 17, 2023 Ken Blanchard

I was recently asked to write a post about how I maintain “personal effectiveness.” The phrase itself is interesting to me, because it can apply to every part of life—personal effectiveness on the job, at home with family, visiting with friends—how do we maximize our usefulness as human beings on a regular basis?

Start your day slowly

It’s no secret that I like to enter my day slowly whenever possible—I’ve written about it many times. Why? Because we all know people who leap out of bed in the morning, rush to work, come home exhausted, stay up too late watching TV or scrolling on their phone, and do the same thing the next day. And the day after that. Not a very balanced or peaceful life, if you ask me.

I ease slowly into my day by reading inspirational quotes and thoughtfully considering the day to come. Then, instead of running to check tasks off my to-do list, I am thoughtful about how I’ll approach each task or goal. This helps me prioritize my daily schedule and think more creatively with less stress. I can face challenges with more energy and focus on the important things, like partnering with my team and being around my family. At night, I reflect on things that happened during the day and look forward to a new morning.

Set clear goals for yourself

All good performance—personal and professional—starts with clear goals. In fact, in our book The One Minute Manager®, Spencer Johnson and I dubbed the First Secret of the One Minute Manager “One Minute Goals.”

  • Each goal is written in 250 words or less so that anyone can read it in a minute. This way, you can review your goals and check your effectiveness on each goal whenever you want to.
  • Once you figure out your top four or five goals, list them in order of importance.
  • Now, under each goal, list the tasks you need to complete in order to accomplish that goal and the approximate amount of time you need for each of those tasks.

Listing our goals helps us clarify exactly what needs to be done and when. It takes this process out of our heads and puts it right in front of us where we can manage it effectively.

Become a lifelong learner

Most of us realize that in today’s world, nothing really stays the same. We need to be flexible both at work and at home to deal effectively with the day-to-day changes we know are coming.

One way to help yourself adapt to change is to think of yourself as a lifelong learner. Whether you’re doing it for professional or personal growth, no matter your age, education, or leadership level, continuing to learn keeps your mind and skills sharp. Sure, being at the top of your game as a leader feels great for a while—but without ongoing learning, your personal satisfaction and effectiveness in the workplace will suffer.

My wife, Margie, is a great example of a lifelong learner. She is open to learning every day. Not only does she take classes on a variety of topics, she constantly stretches her mind through reading every book she can get her hands on—both fiction and nonfiction. And because Margie is also a lifelong teacher, she currently teaches courses on career planning for younger generations in our company.

In fact, the best leaders I know are lifelong learners. They know continuous improvement is part of effective leading. And keeping your mind open to learning makes it easier to adjust to just about any change life tosses your way.

Maintain a positive outlook—count your blessings!

Even though I’m a perpetual optimist, I can’t say every day is a perfect day. My mother taught me long ago that things wouldn’t always go my way and that thinking positive would help me deal with life’s ups and downs. She was right!

So what do I do when I’m feeling a little down and need to pick up my mood? I take a deep breath and think: How can I move forward without allowing this bump in the road to keep dragging my mind into the past? I learned a valuable lesson from Spencer Johnson’s book The Precious Present:

“It’s okay to learn from the past, but don’t live there. And it’s okay to plan for the future, but don’t live there, either. If you really want to be happy as you go through life, don’t lose what is precious to you. Live in the present.”

What a powerful message! I always remember this when I catch myself either feeling bad about something that’s already happened or worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.

Finally, no matter who you are or where you’re from, don’t forget to count your blessings. Now that I’m in my eighties, I understand it can be easy to fall into a pattern of griping about aches and pains or other things. But there are so many things in life to be thankful for. One of Margie’s and my favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas, an oldie but goodie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. There’s a song in that movie, “Count Your Blessings,” that I’ve always found comforting. The chorus goes like this:

“If you're worried and you can't sleep,

Just count your blessings instead of sheep

And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

So how would you rate yourself on personal effectiveness? Are you the best you can be in all aspects of your life, or could you use some polishing? I hope I’ve given you some food for thought!

About the Author

Ken Blanchard

Dr. Ken Blanchard is the cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of Blanchard®, an international management training and consulting firm. Ken is the coauthor of The One Minute Manager, as well as 65 other books with combined sales totaling more than 21 million copies.

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