What is your relationship with time? Do you see it as a resource you can manipulate and manage, or are you running faster every day, and never catching up?
If you feel out of control, unable to prioritize (everything is urgent), guilty for failing to keep your commitments; or stressed that you are forced to make last-minute changes (or enforce change in others), then it’s time to reassess how you relate to the time you have for each day.
Follow these tenets to increase your effectiveness and ease your everyday stress level:
- What is urgent versus important? Look critically at the flow of last week. What caused the most stress in your environment? Was it the urgent or the truly important matters? This determination will help you feel more in control and will give you a greater sense of direction; living in crisis mode is a distraction from the greater goals you have as a leader in your organization.
- Decrease the number of urgent matters that cross your desk. At first blush this may sound insurmountable, but consider it a long-term project. Start investing now and you will see the returns in the coming months. For example, identify the top five urgent matters that you are typically faced with.
- Spend the time to create a buffer between you and the “crisis” that crosses your desk. This doesn’t mean that you leave it unsettled. You may choose to train team members to handle these types of seemingly urgent matters. Perhaps they could each take one on.
- Delegate! You’ve heard it said before, and here it is again. A critical part of coaching is also delegating. Why not take advantage of this, and give someone else a chance to work on some of your projects?
- Be honest with yourself—is it possible that you are holding on to them, because of your sense of ownership, or for other reasons? You will find that you can “think big” when your mind is not cluttered with all of the daily issues.
- Recreate Your Schedule. Create a new schedule for this week. Begin by filling in what is important. This will help you make it a priority. Seemingly urgent matters can often be blocked into a particular time slot in your day. This takes away their “urgent” nature, and gives them the true attention they deserve.
- Follow through on this one by changing your email service to the “calendar view” versus email view. This way you can schedule time for addressing email correspondence, and keep your focus on what is truly important.
Does procrastination creep into your daily schedule? Don’t let it take over. Take care of your most difficult tasks first in the day to take care of a ‘bottle neck’ in your productivity. You’ll also feel accomplished, because the things that we procrastinate about hold us back in other areas.
What about that large project that is overwhelming? Break it down into small pieces, and do one component each day. No, it won’t be completed in one sitting, but let’s face it, you likely won’t get it done at all if you don’t get started!
Finally, what about worry? You may be so tied in knots that you are no longer effective. Give yourself a break by scheduling worry time. Compartmentalize your worrying, so it doesn’t poison your entire personal and professional life! If you follow all of these steps together, you will find a gradual but important shift in your time (and your life) in the upcoming months.