I’ve heard many leaders tell me they always wait to do something until the last minute because they perform best under this type of pressure. Sounds like a bit of rationalization to me. I know that when I procrastinate on something it’s not because it is the best way to work – it is often quite the opposite. I just don’t want to do whatever it is because I view it as drudgery, am unsure how to proceed or I’m not sure I’ll be pleased by the outcome. I cannot imagine any scenario where purposefully putting yourself under time pressure until the last minute makes any sense.
Time is finite. No matter how hard we try, we can’t create more of it, so we have to manage the time we have in the best way possible. A leader typically has no time to waste. You need to minimize distractions and maximize your focus. Here are some tips on how to manage your time better:
Most people live their lives reactively rather than proactively. Instead of controlling their time and schedule they let events control them. If you always choose to just make it up as you go along, don’t be surprised if you are often disappointed with the outcomes you are getting. Create some basic structure to your daily life and you will actually end up feeling liberated to do more of what you want to do because you will have more time to do it in.
Time is limited. We all know this fact, yet how many of us manage our time poorly. Two of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that they are too busy or that there isn’t enough time. I can certainly empathize with this mindset and various times in my life have struggled with these challenges myself. However, I’ve learned that you manage your time or it manages you.
Ideally a person would want to use their time well and be highly productive and effective. They wouldn’t get easily distracted or lose focus. Instead of procrastinating on things they need to get done, they’d be disciplined about accomplishing what’s most important when it should get done with minimal stress. The days would flow smoothly rather than bounce around between shifting priorities and putting our fires. Time should be spent doing your own job not making up for the shortcomings of others. We also need to be smart enough to ask for help when we are in over our heads. If we are being honest with ourselves, we’d own up to the fact that most of the stress in our careers is self-created.
We all get overwhelmed at times. It’s just part of life. Sometimes there is just too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Instead of stressing out when this happens, takes a step back, breathe, and come up with a plan of action. Here are some tactics/ideas that have worked for me:
There are way too many things competing for our time as adults. It’s easy to get lost in the fog of responsibility and fall behind. If we are honest with ourself, we end up using our time very inefficiently and often make it up as we go along. As a result, there is usually some level of imbalance in our life as we prioritize what is most pressing or convenient. The problem is that gaps unattended only grow with time and at some point the chasm becomes too difficult to navigate. The very thing we value most, our own independence and freedom, becomes victim to the personal stress created by not being disciplined about our decisions, time and activities. Paradoxically, we end up with the outcomes we most wanted to avoid.
I’ve been in many organizations in my professional career. In each instance, I’ve always come across a leader or management team who has a grand vision of the future and what’s possible. There are no shortage of ideas of what could be done and what should get fixed. I wholeheartedly believe that most people want to do a good job and make a positive contribution. It’s rare when you meet someone in a leadership position who shows up to work each day expecting to fail yet sadly it happens on a regular basis. There is often a disconnect between what people know should happen and what actually gets accomplished. We’ve grown far too accustomed to performance mediocrity and lowering our expectations.
The history of business is littered with the failures of innately gifted and talented leaders who never realized their full potential because they were slow to change, didn’t work hard enough at getting smarter, couldn’t think their way out of adversity or thought they had all the answers.
Leaders are usually “Type A” people who need to keep busy and get things done. This typically serves them well but can also be a problem if they are not careful. Being busy for the sake of being busy can lead to unnecessary distraction and use up energy and time that could be better spent elsewhere. Moreover, anyone in charge of anything needs some regular time to pause and reflect on what they are doing and why they are doing it.
was meeting with a colleague the other day and he seemed utterly exhausted. There was just too much work to get done and not enough time to get in done in, or so he thought. Most of us are our own worst enemies when it comes to time management and setting work priorities.
As someone who doesn’t like too much structure, I must admit that time management doesn’t always come easy to me.
Just about everyone I know these days feels like there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in. They speak to the virtues of life balance but bemoan the difficulty of making this happen in their own life. The problem isn’t time. The problem is how an individual views time and how they make decisions given this perspective.
There are so many distractions on a daily basis it’s hard to stay focused. Since none of us have the capability to actually add hours to our days we need to make the most of the time we have. Whether it is at work or at home we need to be ability to prioritize the urgent over the important and the important over everything else.
There is nothing that can be changed about your actions from 5 minutes ago, let alone last week, month or year. What is done is done. What’s important is that you gain wisdom from these past experiences so that you can perform better in the present and be positioned more effectively for the future. It’s also important there is some sense of balance between the present and future.
Always strive to operate at your “highest and best use” to the organization