One of the top challenges facing executives relates to time management. They are over-scheduled, perennially interrupted, covering for others’ mistakes, and solving dozens of challenges.
I was working with a someone in his office last week and within a brief ten-minute slice of time, four different people “dropped in” to ask something. When the fourth person walked in, he just looked at me and started to laugh. This man’s workday really begins in the evening, and obviously, this isn’t sustainable over time.
Another example is a woman with two young children who catches up on what she didn’t accomplish during the workday while gulping espresso after her children are in bed. She may catch up on her work, but how well do you think she sleeps with that caffeine jolt so late in the evening?
This isn’t an issue about being organized, knowing how to prioritize, or struggling with the job itself. It’s about the high expectations that come along with increasing workplace demands. It’s mania management!
Top performing executives face this challenge more than others. Average performers get things done when they get them done. Their sense of urgency is stratospherically different.
And therein rests one of the keys to the challenge. The expression used to be, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Today’s adaptation might be, “If you want to get something done, ask an overly stretched top performer.”
How to help these people is complex; in fact, it’s individually prescriptive rather than one-size-fits-all time management techniques of the past. And, in many cases, it involves breaking a pattern of micro-managing and becoming a better delegator.
To start, make a list of typical interruptions and decide who can take care of these issues going forward. Then when someone interrupts you about “x”, ask the person to see Carol, who is now responsible for that task.
This won’t solve all those time management struggles, but it gives you a start and puts a crack in the dam that everything needs to be decided by you.
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