Ever felt a bit out of control of your time, your day…your life?! In two and half words – who hasn’t?! This past month, many of my clients have been juggling with their over crowded lives with sending kids to summer camp, graduations, weddings, mid-year results, and keeping all their plates spinning. How do we stay balanced, together, and aligned with how and where we want to spend our time?
This past week I had the privilege of graduating our 5th class of leaders at the IDEA Public Schools in the Rio Grande Valley. The work these leaders are doing to impact education in this area is a noble contribution. Dr. Noel Tichy and I have been fortunate enough to be an integral part of their leadership journeys. I am quite certain I have learned as much, if not more, from them as we have attempted to share with them. The following 3 tips on how we can optimize the time in our day I have actually distilled from discussions and sessions with these amazing leaders.
Tip 1: Measure the economies of the infamous “meeting”. Meetings to have meetings are a waste of time. Period. We need to have the courage to STOP having meetings – just to make us feel like we are making progress against said objective or goal. Stop sending 3-4 folks to the same meeting when 1 member of the team can represent the collective. This culture of collaboration and being inclusive can be an excuse to include everyone, when frankly, this is just silly and waste of time for the participants. Declare – undeniably – what the GOAL and outcome of the meeting needs to be AND the roles and processes the individuals will play in the meeting. And stay true to this plan. Without this clarity, we dance around the Maypole without getting substantive work accomplished. Finally, ask yourself – before you say “yes” to a meeting – what exactly am I going to contribute in this meeting? If you can’t answer this – and assign real value to your role – then think twice about going. This frees up your time to accomplish something which will truly contribute to driving the agenda.
Tip 2: Stop, Reflect, Review, Revise. Seldom do we take time to stop and reflect on what is working, what is not working, and how we are truly spending our time. We think this is a luxury, as we believe we have to keep moving fast in order to get things done. This is obsolete thinking. Sometimes we have to slow down, to move fast. We need to schedule time with ourselves. This can be just 1-2 hours a week – sacred time which is protected from being eaten by the issue du jour. This will help wonders. This allows us to get re-aligned, re-organized, re-prioritized AND look at how we are spending our time and energies.
Tip 3: Tackle 1 big significant action first thing in the morning. Most folks begin their day with emails or voice mails, which can become quicksand and eat the first 2 hours of a day so quickly that when 10 a.m. comes around and you wonder where the morning has gone. What if you tried to tackle the one big thing that has been weighing on you first thing in the morning? This could be the proposal that is past due, the assessment of the data from test scores, the performance evaluation of a troubled employee, the all-important grant application due at the end of the month, or the fifth chapter of your current book. I’ll admit, this can feel heavy, as we have other daily routines about which we have become habitual. However, when I practice this – whether this be on my current book or my weekly blog – I feel GREAT and HIGHLY ENERGIZED the rest of the day. Nothing like that affirming B12 shot of accomplishment!
What tips do you have to take back the reins from a runaway wagon? Please weigh in…we want to hear!!