No matter how hard you try, you will never be fully in control of your time as a leader. But that doesn’t mean you should surrender and give up trying either. The battle should continue while you have breath to live. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic sounding, but you get the point. To help, here are some ideas to keep you moving forward.
Create Order From Your Chaos:
You may already have this tackled. But make sure you can function in your usual workspace(s). It doesn’t have to be totally cleared off and shiny clean. Just make sure you keep external distractions to a minimum. Even if you think you work better in massive clutter, have at least one clear workspace available at all times. Then try that spot out every now and then. It may just be that you are so used to clutter you can muddle through, but if you give yourself the opportunity, you may achieve “greatness” if you work without all the junk littering your space.
Review Your Schedule Top to Bottom:
Take a few days to document every moment you are at work (and away from it too if you like). Just like you would do with your finances before establishing a new tighter budget, you need to do this with your time occasionally. Once you’ve done that for a few days, then take a non-judgmental look at what you do with your time. We all need some down-time in our schedule, so a bit here and there is good. But if you find you have chunks of time that seem to disappear, then look at what you are doing then.
Is there a way to avoid some of that behavior? It might not even be you, but that others just take over and you’ve been nice enough to let them. Knowledge means that you can act on that. Decide what to do when it happens. If one person keeps showing up in your office to tell you what’s wrong but never changes anything. Allow them to vent on the subject once. The second time they come back with the same issue, tell them they’ve had their freebie already and now you expect them to only return with the problem when they’ve thought of a way to deal with it and are ready to discuss that possible solution. It may take a time or two telling them before they get the idea, but if you are firm, at least you’ll have more of your time back to focus on your work and schedule.
Start your workday with a few minutes prioritizing your schedule. Or if you prefer, you can do this just before you leave each night. Once you have your schedule set, spend the first 30-120 minutes accomplishing the top priority item – or a section of it. That way whatever else happens that day, you’ve moved forward with important work. As a reward for that, give yourself 15 minutes to check in with your team. Take a stroll to the water cooler or grab your favorite beverage with fresh ice and smile at everyone as you pass. Be open to them approaching you, but keep moving so they know they only have a few minutes to say what they want.
If no emergency or urgency has changed your list, then move to the next item … and so on until you are ready to shut down everything and head home at a reasonable time. Life is too short to spend it all at the office. Keep the people you love (and you) happy with plenty of time together doing things you love.
That’s a good start for how to get your work and day on schedule. What are some of the tricks and tips you’ve learned for this?