Time is Not Your Problem

I hate the feeling of spinning my wheels.

There are times when I find myself bouncing off walls, my attention split into fragments, distracted by 100 tasks and “to-dos.” This is especially true at certain times of day when I am between meetings or when I’ve just finished a project.

It also arises when I haven’t had enough sleep or exercise, or when I’ve simply over-committed and haven’t set aside enough “margin” in my day.

Moments (and days) like these drain my energy, kill my progress, and make me feel grumpy. Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wonder, “what am I DOING?” Or, “why can’t I get the results I want?”

I’m currently setting goals and planning my first few sprints for the year, so I’m looking closely at the underlying habits and patterns that are either accelerating or tanking my outcomes.

Here is what I know for certain:

  1. Time is fixed. I can’t get more or less of it. (It’s a bummer, but we all know it’s true.)
  2. My ability to strategically deploy my focus and attention is the KEY DRIVER of success.
  3. There are many barriers to #2.

Why is it so hard to stay focused and attentive and to be strategic with my time?

Here are some primary challenges that will always need to be managed:

  • I have too many open projects at any given time, so my attention is split in many directions.
  • My calendar is full and I don’t have enough “margin” to recharge.
  • My calendar is sometimes filled with appointments by other people, which makes it unpredictable.
  • My energy wanes and I spin my wheels, checking email over and over again instead of working on high priority projects.
  • Sometimes my projects get delayed or canceled, which lowers my overall motivation.
  • Sometimes I am assigned work that isn’t a good fit for me or that I don’t understand, and my engagement suffers. 

Are any of these true for you?

A few helpful tips that make things easier:

Start with the most important and high impact activities that fuel your energy

  • Put exercise and rejuvenation periods on your calendar first! These will keep you going and make everything else easier.
  • Block time for strategic thinking and project work. At least 2 blocks of 90 - 120 minutes a week are necessary for most of us.
  • Protect these time blocks as if they are baby kittens! These are as important (or MORE important) than anything else that you might get sucked into.

Commit to bigger margins

  • If you (like me) tend to think that you can do more than is humanly possible in a day, then go ahead and make your list, and then cut it in half!
  • Give yourself transition time between meetings, and make it a habit to finish your notes from one meeting before moving on to the next one.
  • Shorten meetings to 20, 30 or 45 minutes instead of 60. (Do this by naming the purpose of the meetings and outcomes you are seeking, before you even commit to a meeting.)

Focus on YOUR greatest contribution

  • Know yourself. Know your strengths (A.K.A. your Working Genius!). Know your “best times of day.”
  • USE your strengths to get better work done. (Don’t know how to do this? Ask me! I can help!)
  • Develop your team so that you work better together.

This year, I’m dedicated to getting more of the right things done and leaving myself plenty of margin for deep and creative work.

Let’s do this together! Tell me about your challenges and strategies.
    •    How do you balance your workload?
    •    How do you ensure that you are working on the right things?
    •    How do you engage others so that you are developing your team for better results?

Let's support, inspire and learn from each other. If you've found something that really works for you, help others by sharing!

Cheers to a great 2024.


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