Nearly everyone who steps into a leadership role at any level is asked to do many more things than can possibly fit on their plate. They’ve got essentially four choices: Say no to some things, negotiate others off the plate, delegate, or gag. Some might say there’s a fifth option; that we can always multitask. As a general rule, I don’t accept the notion that it is preferable to stop doing one important thing really well to divert to doing two or more things in a half-hearted manner.
Let’s say that you’re to undergo thoracic surgery, and your experienced, highly rated surgeon also happens to be an accomplished chess player. Are you going to have any problem if she chooses to play a game online with one hand while her other, scalpel wielding hand is inside you? Thought so.
The choice as to which of the aforementioned options to employ (yes, all four are options) can be best made by being constantly aware of one’s mission, priorities, and the resources available to them.
First and foremost among those resources is time. Every day, we hear someone say, “but I don’t have the time.” Truth be known, we have all the time there is…1440 minutes per day. That’s it. As a result, we’re forced to make occasionally difficult decisions about how that time gets apportioned, and that’s where our mission and priorities come into play. As for saying “No”, here’s a link to a piece that you might find of benefit
Following are three things that have served me well with respect to managing time and priorities:
- At all times, maintain a steely grip on your uppermost priorities, and on a fairly regular basis check in with your boss to verify that they are aware of and share your sense of what is most important. Similarly, make sure that everyone on your team knows what the group’s top 3 priorities are. Chances are, they don’t. Go poll a half-dozen or so and see.
- Get really good at tasking and delegating, and while you’re at it, dispense with the notion that delegating and dumping are one and the same. Make sure that you distribute a defined level of authority to go along with assigned responsibilities, and that you follow up on a reasonable basis to check progress. Whenever you can, use delegation as a way to develop people. They will be a lot more interested to do the work if they are getting something out of it, too. Oh, and another thing, give credit liberally when they deliver.
- One habit that I’ve had for about thirty years is to calendar tasks and events, rather than maintaining a separate To-Do List. It just seems to work better for me to apportion a specific part of my day to a particular task or activity than to put something on a To-Do List and pray that I’ll later be able to cross it off. CNBC anchor, Andrew Ross Sorkin apparently does the same, as described in an informative piece about some of his workday habits. Speaking of To-Do Lists, you’d be surprised how many people, at day’s end, actually write things that they’ve accomplished onto their list just so they can get the satisfaction of crossing them off:-)
Make it a great day!