Power Players

Barack Obama: 'I am not well organized' — 3 ways he stays productive

Former president Barack Obama
Zach Gibson | Getty Images

If you're having trouble staying focused and organized while working from home, keep in mind that even former president Barack Obama struggles with organization from time to time.

Obama shared his tips for productivity and revealed the relatable task at which he doesn't excel, during a video call with Eva Chen, Instagram's director of fashion partnerships.

In terms of productivity, "No. 1, break it up into pieces," Obama told Chen. "I am a believer in, nothing big gets done all at once, and there's no point in being anxious about trying to do everything."

Instead of trying to accomplish everything, it's wise to "have realistic expectations," Obama said. Ask yourself: "How much can I get done on it at any given moment?" he said.

Another wise tip? "Building a team, wherever you can," Obama said.

"Most of the big things we do in life, we're not going to do alone, and learning how to have a great support system, folks who are better at doing some things than others," he said.

Obama shared that while he was president, it was important to have people who were responsible for keeping track of paperwork. For example, the president's job includes reading the President's Daily Brief, which is "a daily summary of high-level, all-source information and analysis on national security issues," according to the National Intelligence Community.

"I am not well organized," he said. "There's some things I do well, that was not one of them."

Obama's final suggestion is "having a sense of humor," he said. Basically, he means that you should be gentle with yourself and let go of perfectionism.

"If you're too much of a type A, you need to leaven that a little bit," Obama said. "Being a little forgiving of yourself, knowing that nothing's going to be perfect," will ultimately allow you to get more accomplished, he said.

Throughout writing his most recent book, "A Promised Land," Obama said he experienced self-doubt. "While I was writing the entire book, and all the other books that I've written, at least once a day I say, 'Nobody's gonna want to read this,' or 'This isn't as good as I hoped' or 'I could have phrased that better.'"

"Feeling comfortable with the fact that we're human, and we're going to be imperfect," he said. "But if we make the effort, that hopefully is worthwhile. And that seems to work for me."

Check out: Barack Obama on the mistakes he sees leaders make

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