This is a post I almost didn’t write. I was too busy — just kidding. No, the truth is I’ve struggled with this issue most of my career. And, in my case, I can’t really blame my organization. Many of my issues have been of my own creation. As I’ve thought about it, several factors have contributed to my struggles:
I have a personality that contributes to my desire to work. I’m not complaining or deflecting, I’m just acknowledging my wiring — Type A.
I want to be perceived as a guy who can get it done. I probably need to see a therapist to fully understand this. I’m guessing it has roots in self-esteem issues.
I love to work — you may too. Particularly if you are doing work you love for an organization you love.
There are probably other reasons but that’s not the real point of this post. I’ve come to realize a totally counterintuitive truth: the less you do, the more you accomplish. So, for almost a decade, I’ve been trying to be more effective by doing less. Let me quickly add that on any given day or during any given season, I fail miserably. When this happens, my impact decreases.
So, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to create appropriate mechanisms to better manage my workload. This is a never-ending quest for me, so I’ll write more about it in the future. For now, here are 4 ideas that continue to serve me well.
Track your time — This is not a new idea. Peter Drucker was advocating this almost 50 years ago! Try keeping up with all your activities during your waking hours for at least two weeks. Drucker suggested that you do this every 6 months. You may be shocked where you actually invest your time.
Eliminate those activities that are low impact — Clearly, we don’t have complete discretion on this. However, you’ll probably be surprised how many things you do in two weeks that really don’t add value. Drucker believed that virtually any leader could eliminate 25% with no consequences!
Shorten your typical meeting — What is the cultural norm for meetings in your organization? Are meetings usually scheduled for 60 minutes? If so, try scheduling them for 30 minutes. You may find that people are better prepared and therefore, the shorter meeting will work fine.
Schedule a self-leadership day — at least once a month — If you didn’t think I was crazy based on the previous ideas, I know that many of you do now. The best thing I can do as a leader is to step away from the fray, regain perspective, and re-engage. During this time, evaluate the last 30 days — What worked? What didn’t? What did I learn? Prepare for the next 30 days — What are my priorities? What MUST be done? What could be deferred?
Managing your workload will be a key factor in your success and mine. Good luck!
© 2012 Mark Miller, co-author of Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life
Mark Miller, co-author of Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life, is vice president, training and development, for Chick-fil-A. During his career he has served in corporate communications, restaurant operations, quality and customer satisfaction, and numerous other leadership positions. He began his Chick-fil-A career in 1977 working as an hourly team member. He is the author of The Secret of Teams and is the co-author of The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do with Ken Blanchard.