George Washington's Best Productivity Tricks

George Washington's Best Productivity Tricks lifehacker Deadspin Gizmodo Jalopnik Jezebel Kotaku Lifehacker index Skillet Two Cents Vitals App directory Gear George Washington's Best Productivity Tricks Thorin Klosowski 4/29/13 4:00am Filed to: tips from history productivity time management leadership communication life skills morals 46 7 Edit Promote Dismiss Undismiss Share to Kinja Toggle Conversation tools Go to permalink In order to become a famous inventor, president, scientist, or just about anything else with a semblance of importance, you have to know how to get things done. With that in mind, we know that we can learn a lot about productivity and leadership from these types, so we figured we'd look into exactly how they do it, starting with President George Washington. Advertisement George Washington was the quintessential jack of all trades. He not only led the United States in the Revolutionary War, he was also our first president. It takes some serious management and leadership skills to get that much done, so here are three of our favorite tips we've gleaned from him. Maximize Your Strengths and Listen to Everyone It's no secret that American was the weaker side in the Revolutionary War. Washington's troops were outnumbered by the British in both manpower and firepower, but somehow the then commander-in-chief George Washington found a way to win the war. Author David Hackett Fisher looked at the turning points of the Revolutionary War in his book Washington's Crossing . The key takeaway, and the thing we all learned in elementary school, is that George Washington decided to use guerilla tactics instead of facing the British head-on as was the custom at the time. This wasn't just a decision that came overnight of course. Washington and his generals had to look at the strengths of the American army and figure out how to maximize them, even if that meant breaking long-standing rules of war. $15 Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) From amazon Gizmodo Media Group may get a commission Buy now While most of us know that the Revolutionary War was won with tactics, it was also because Washington was willing to listen to anyone regardless of rank. Fisher explains how Washington differed from the British in the way he made decisions before the Battle of Trenton : Advertisement That night British and American councils of war made different decisions—and also made them differently. Again [officer] Cornwallis imposed his plan from the top down, against the judgement of able inferiors, and prepared to attack in the morning. Washington in his council of war welcomed the judgements of others and presided over an open process of discovery and decision that yielded yet another opportunity. in the night, Washington disengaged his forces from an enemy only a few yards away, and an exhausted American army found the will and strength to make another night march toward the British base at Princeton. We're all aware that ideas can come from anywhere, and sometimes beginner's can come up with better ideas than experienced people. Washington knew that too, and when taking on an enemy that was far bigger than him, he looked to anyone—regardless of age or rank—for ideas. Create a Set of Rules for Yourself It might seem silly to think you need to write out a list of rules to live by, but that's exactly what George Washington did when he copied down and adapted The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation . While most of these rules are about etiquette and are a bit outdated now, NPR points out that the exercise is still interesting . Much like Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues , Washington's purpose was to outline how he wanted to live his life. Unlike Franklin, some of Washington's rules are pretty goofy, like "Put not off your clothes in the presence of others, nor go out of your chamber half dressed," but that doesn't me he doesn't include a few gems: Advertisement Sponsored 14. Turn not your back to others, especially in speaking; jog not the table or desk on which another reads or writes; lean not upon anyone. 18. Read no letter, books, or papers in company, but when there is a necessity for the doing of it, you must ask leave; come not near the books or writings of another so as to read them unless desired, or give your opinion of them unasked. Also look not nigh when another is writing a letter. 20. The gestures of the body must be suited to the discourse you are upon. 35. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive. 73. Think before you speak, pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly. Washington's idea here is essentially a to-do list for life. You certainly don't need to make a list of 110 things, but if you want to solidify something in your head—whether it's a healthy habit or a behavior change—listing them out as a sort of "personal guide to living" is certainly one way to go about it. Be Punct