Do you constantly struggle to manage your time, lead your team, AND complete all of your other work without feeling exhausted? You’re not alone!
The reason this problem is so prevalent is because the corporate environment is notoriously reactive in nature. The speed of business today often makes people feel as if an immediate action or response is required.
Leaders often get stuck in a continuous loop of putting out fires instead of making real progress which can lead to frustration and burnout.
This cycle is perpetuated because of three common time management mistakes that many leaders—regardless of level or type of industry—make every day.
The traditional approach to time management equates task completion with productivity, but To-Do lists alone won’t help. The most effective among us know the secret: you have to learn to manage yourself and your energy to get the best results.
Time Management Mistake #1: Being Reactive Rather Than Proactive
How do you begin your day?
Many people react to emails and events that arise in meetings allowing those items to dictate the course of their day. Instead of following an intentional plan for getting things done, time is quickly whisked away by reacting to crisis of the moment.
To set the tone for your day, choose not to read email first thing in the morning. Do something unrelated to work like exercising, walking your dog, or meditation.
When you do begin work, start with your most important priority and focus on that for 30-45 minutes to kickstart your productivity.
Successful and proactive days begin when you create a practice of setting clear intentions to drive your actions. (Related: Intentional Action Creates Inevitable Success)
Time Management Mistake #2: The “More is More” Approach
Because you spend so much time reacting each day, you may believe that the only way to catch up and/or get ahead is to work longer hours or by multitasking.
I’ve actually heard leaders boast about how much they’re working as if that somehow qualifies them for a prize. (I hope this isn’t you!)
Although you may not want to work longer hours, maybe you don’t feel like you have any choice. In addition to being unhealthy for you, recent research reveals that working longer hours is actually detrimental to performance.
The same is true for multitasking: when you try to do more than one thing at a time, you lose about 40% productivity compared to working intently on one item at a time.
My advice to leaders I coach is to work smarter, not harder. Focus your energy on your highest priority activities to knock them out quickly and cut down on required hours. Also, set boundaries for your availability so that you have time to work during the work day.
Time Management Mistake #3: Trying to Do It All
Have you ever spent an entire day working on a project that just completely sucked the life out of you? Of course you have! But did you ever stop to wonder why this happens?
You’re not meant to do everything. We all have our strengths and interests and we need to play to those instead of forcing things. Taking responsibility and action on everything yourself leads to frustration and burnout.
You have to learn how to manage your energy at work. Identifying which activities drain your energy and those that inspire you is the first step. The second step is taking action to make necessary changes.
Learning to delegate those activities that drag you down is critical. If you don’t have a team to delegate actions to, find other support resources and communicate your needs and desired outcomes to your leaders.
As you learn to approach your work proactively and build habits to focus on your most important priorities you will find yourself with an abundance of time and energy. When others notice the difference and ask what you’ve changed you’ll be the smartest leader in the office. That’s a prize worth boasting about!
If you’re ready to take your leadership and your team from functional to optimal, then we should talk! Schedule a Complimentary Discovery Call with me!