Ok, so the title is only somewhat connected to the topic, but I thought it would grab your attention better than “Why you Think You Don’t Have Control Over Your time”
True to the tradition of this blog, these will always be inspired by Leadership Lessons based on real life situations.
The last few weeks have been spent in conversations with peers and friends about the time they spend at work, specifically about the perception that they don’t have enough time to finish the things they need to. I say perception because as John Maxwell mentions “regardless of what anyone thinks, we all get 24 hours a day, You can’t Manage time, what you can manage is yourself”
And as I am sure most of you already know, It’s how we use the time given to us, the choices that are available to us, is where the problem sits.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen Managers and Senior Leaders driving slides for clients or senior execs, taking and writing minutes of meetings, attending meetings where they’re not really needed and the worst of all, absorbing deliverables that are not theirs to begin with.
And then we get to points where we complain that we’re stretched too thin. And then our health suffers because we lack sleep. And then the things we’re supposed to take care of, our actual deliverables, the ones with the biggest impact of ROI are the ones that suffer.
You need to Stop. Just stop.
There are many books and articles out there that teach time management, prioritization skills, even advanced methods like quartile task management, but they’re all useless until you make a decision that you can’t do it all. You’re not supposed to.
Sometimes things are difficult because we choose to make them so.
In my opinion and experience, it needs to start with a mindset shift and a conscious, almost religious reminder and affirmation of 2 things:
- Understand WHY you do what you do.
- Understand WHY your role exists in the team.
This will significantly help you in ensuring your time is where it needs to be. Once you have that, the rest literally becomes easy.
Here’s the top 3 tips of things you can do:
Delegate clearly and with purpose.
Especially the lower level, administrative tasks. In most cases these are tasks that entry-level peeps will die for because it gives them exposure, training and learning for things currently not in their scope. Things like minutes taking, organizing meetings for other people or departments etc. still happen today. It shouldn’t.
This should not be done by any manager level or senior-level person or higher especially if you’re struggling with bandwidth or workload challenges. Your time should be spent on more impactful things, where it matters most – with your team.
Divide and Conquer.
Whether it’s meetings and deliverables. There should be very little meetings where multiple manager level people or higher are required to attend. If there are conflicts, ask your peer or even your boss if you can split up and then catch up later to calibrate. If you have more than 1 meeting a day or more than 5 per week, where all senior Leaders are out of the floor, Stop it. Keep the time and valuable leadership guidance and influence always on your frontline.
The same applies to deliverables and reports. We each have a role, a load to carry. We need to ensure that everyone does their part and eliminate the need for rework.
Pushback and or Ask for Help.
Most of us don’t do this because we think it’s a sign of weakness or we’re afraid of upsetting our Clients or our Senior Leaders. This is simply not true. Any competent, tenured or rational Leader worth his salt will almost always understand when you pushback or ask for help. Just don’t make it a habit and don’t wait for the last minute when you do. Make it clear, concise and appropriately timed.
This is more than ok especially if you position it with a measured, well thought out reason and or a counter proposal. You’ll find that doing this not only ensures the quality of your output but also gives you back time and ability to focus better.
When all is said and done, you control your time. It doesn’t control you. When things become floopy as they sometimes will, remember – Understand WHY you do what you do and Understand WHY your role exists in the team
And it will set you straight.