Dr. Rita's Blog
Lately my new coaching clients all seem to be struggling with having too much to do and not having enough time for themselves and their families. We’ve been talking about strategies for focusing more on the important and less on the urgent.
When I sat down to write this newsletter, I thought it might be a good idea to review this topic.
A Breeding Ground
The fast-paced world we live in is a breeding ground for distractions and urgencies masquerading as important.
As leaders, it takes daily awareness to say no to what’s in front of us and carve out (and protect!) the time we need to think long term and strategically.
When we talk about this subject, my clients almost always ask, “Where do I find the time?”
My response? “You have to take the time. And then guard it ferociously. No one will give you the time and you won’t find it.”
That leads to a conversation that includes a few significant ideas.
1. Schedule on your calendar the time you want and need for strategic and important thinking.
2. Guard that time. Say no to anyone (unless it’s the CEO) who tries to schedule something during your strategic thinking time.
3. Figure out what you can delegate. And then actually delegate things to the capable people you have on your team. Remind yourself that you are giving them opportunities to learn, grow and develop in their careers.
4. Experiment with letting things fall off your to-do list. Yes. I said, “Let things fall off your to-do list.” If they are truly important, you’ll get feedback telling you so. And if they weren’t important enough to get feedback, they don’t belong on your to-do list in the first place. You may be surprised at how many things you think you need to do, but you really don’t.
Don’t Be Surprised
Don’t be surprised if you feel uneasy at first. One of the reasons the urgent is so seductive is that we get an adrenaline hit when we can accomplish something in a short period of time. Or we feel needed for a perceived “crisis.” That feeling of being needed is also seductive because it gives us a “feel-good” moment.
Wisdom is Waiting for You
As you practice scheduling and keeping strategic thinking time on your calendar, you’ll start to experience its power. You’ll notice that it’s the key to keeping you ahead of the game. You’ll feel less stressed and more centered. You’ll make better decisions. You’ll tap into a wisdom that can’t exist without the time to think deeply. We need more leaders who know how to bring wisdom to decision making. Answers will start to come to you from seemingly out-of-the-blue.
Taking this time isn’t easy. I give this assignment to the women in my Executive Women’s Change Leadership Roundtables all the time. They often report back that something “important” came up or there was something they just “had to do” instead of holding fast to the time they had on their calendar for strategic thinking.
Keep At It
If at first you feel like you are sluffing off and not doing enough with this time, that is a clue that you are on the right track. Stick with it. You, and your team, will function more effectively with less stress. And that’s good for everyone!
I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
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