Ask any leader, and they will likely tell you they have more to do than they have time to do it. We have all kinds of metaphors to describe it: wearing lots of hats, too many irons in the fire, burning the candle at both ends … you understand, because you’re likely living it. The best managers increase their ability to handle greater responsibility, and they help the leaders working under them to develop these skills as well. But how do they do this?
Understand that it’s not the end of the world if you occasionally drop some balls. You can’t continually juggle everything and expect not to need to let something go from time to time. Even if you don’t do this intentionally, it’s still okay. Keep going with what you have going, and pick up the other things when you can. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t dwell on the dropped balls. Keep your focus on what you still have in the air. Find ways to increase your efficiency. Delegate what you don’t absolutely have to do yourself. Don’t get bogged down in tasks other people on your team should be doing … or would be better at. More importantly, create that expectation at every level of your team. This isn’t about being so delegated that people don’t help when they could. It’s about setting a standard of focus on primary goals and avoiding distractions and time wasters.
End every day by planning the next. Sure, something might “come up,” but you need to have a specific, rather than a general idea of what “success” will look like each day. Plus, when you take the time to plan your day at the end of the day, and you start the next day by reviewing that plan, you can avoid the distractions that can sidetrack us in a text-email-social media-saturated world.
One ancillary benefit of this process is that it keeps you focused on your short and long-term goals. This allows you to measure your current to-do list against your long-term goals, helping to determine if what you’re doing today will move you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. If what you’re working on doesn’t pass that test, then you may want to reconsider the importance of that task.
Finally, never stop developing and investing in the people that are working with you to fulfill the vision and achieve your goals. The better they are, the more than can do … which means fewer balls for you to juggle.
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