I have been in a leadership role of one kind or another for over 50 years. I cannot tell you how many times I remember telling someone I was ‘too busy’, or I ‘didn’t have time’ to do what they wanted me to do. Today, as I think back to those occasions, I am embarrassed.
So, I offer an open apology to any of you who remember those days. I am sorry for the lame excuses. I knew, as you knew, I always had time to do what I wanted to do.
Often, my real problem at those times was that I didn’t know how to plan a day, how to control my time, how to use what time I had. Oh, I was busy, but I also had the same number of hours each day as anyone else, and I got to decide how I wanted to spend them.
So, now, 50 years later, I have figured it out. Let me give you seven suggestions I give to leaders around the world. I do this so you won’t fall into the same trap I did:
1. Make a list. Start the day telling yourself what you have to get done today and assign yourself time to do it. You will add stuff during the day, some can wait until tomorrow.
2. Ask for help. Perhaps there are some things others can do. If you trust someone with it, let them do it.
3. Prioritize: Work on the most important tasks first when you are fresh. Don’t put anything off to the last-minute. Work as far ahead as you possibly can.
4. Block out time for uninterrupted work. If you have a project, schedule a block of time, turn off your phone, close your door and get it done.
5. Control your distractions…like (1) Limit how often you check email, (2) Limit your coffee breaks, (3) Limit your bathroom breaks.
6. But, do take short breaks when you get away from your work. Go for a walk, if someone wants to talk about something go to them and talk. (That way you can leave when you need to). This may be a good time to encourage someone or thank them for a job well done.
7. Keep aware of what is happening inside you. Headaches can be a sign of stress. Sniffles can tell you that you’re not getting enough sleep. Drink water. If you are sick, you will not do your best job.