Time is the great equaliser. No matter how much or little money you have. No matter how healthy or unhealthy you are. How tall, short or good looking you are. We all have the same number of minutes and seconds in a day.
Every day at Peeplcoach we partner with hundreds of individuals and organisations and no matter who we are coaching – a CEO or a graduate – prioritising, planning and managing time is an issue. Everyone has the same problem, NOT ENOUGH TIME!
Burnout is real. Research declares that over 70% of employees are feeling exhausted. Even old school “work horses” who are used to 60- or 70-hour weeks are feeling the physical, mental and emotional effects of COVID, labour shortages, disengagement, business redesign and now the threat of recession. Just writing this makes me feel exhausted and that’s just what’s going on in the workplace, let alone what is happening for people personally. So, with all of this going on, time is more precious than ever and managing that time is essential for avoiding burnout and exhaustion.
I have been told that I am a person who can get a lot done in a day. I didn’t realise just how much until someone asked me what I am involved in and when I listed it, it was a lot! At the time I was sitting on three boards, running two businesses, and “mumming” two teenage sons but fortunately only managing one husband.
Over the years, with plenty of juggling, there are some things I have learnt regarding time management and getting things done, and there are some things I still have to learn.
WHAT I KNOW!
1. 80% done is OK.
Don’t over think it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make sure that the critical components are 100% right. For this concept to work you also have to NOT define everything as critical.
Question: What are you over thinking and wasting time on?
2. Prioritising the big ‘rocks’.
What are the most important things that need to be done in the day, week, month, quarter or year? Make sure you have a clear understanding of what will “move the dial” and a plan for how you can achieve them. If you miss the “nice to haves” that is OK.
Question: What are your most critical priorities and how much time are you spending on them?
3. Ask for help.
You don’t know it all and you shouldn’t. Ask for help from people who know more or are more experienced. Find a coach or a mentor, pay someone to do what you can’t do or someone who can do it better.
Question: What do you need help with and who can you ask?
4. You decide your priorities not others.
I was once coaching a woman who ran a team of 100+ people, she was studying her MBA and was a single mum with two kids. I asked her to take me through her day, so we could prioritise, and the last thing she had done on that particular day was to clean her fridge at 11.30 pm. “Why?” I asked incredulously. “Because my mother brought me up with the idea that good mothers do their own cleaning and have immaculate homes.” Was her response!
In a time when women did not often get divorced or work in full time roles this may have been a wonderful and doable approach, but it was an idea that was unrealistic for my client and causing a lot of stress. Don’t let other people’s opinions or priorities dictate how you spend your time.
Question: Who are you allowing to own your time?
5. Learn to say no.
We all like to help and most of us find pleasure in being needed. However, if you do not learn to say no, your time can be eaten away doing things that are not moving your priorities forward. You CAN say no with a smile, and more often than not people will understand.
Question: Who or what do you need to say no to? When will you say no?
6. Make meetings effective.
Meetings for me are now 30 to 45 minutes long, have a clear outcome and an action plan. If there is not a clear objective for the meeting or if you don’t know why you are there, then don’t attend. You will save hours per week.
Question: What meeting can you stop attending?
7. Stop being a martyr.
Often busy people are busy because they won’t let go. They think they’re the only ones who can do something, they like control or they really like to be needed. If you have hired a team to do the work, then let them do it. If they’re not up to it, then you have hired the wrong people OR you haven’t trained them. Give them the opportunity to show you what they can do and get back some time for yourself.
Question: Do you really need to do this or are you just being a martyr?
WHAT I’M STILL WORKING ON
Working in a rapidly growing startup we have a lot of moving parts. Many days it seems easier to just “do it myself” rather than to brief someone else. After all it’s faster, right?! This is a rabbit hole that non-delegators often disappear into.
However, beyond freeing up your time, delegating allows people to learn and gives them an opportunity to grow and develop their own skills. Whilst it may take longer the first or even the second time a task has to be done, in time, you will not need to be involved at all which will save you hours.
GOAL: Find one task this week you can delegate to someone else, at home or at work.
Let’s be honest, I am an entrepreneur and I see opportunity everywhere, but at least I know I can fall into that trap. I can also be a bit of a martyr sometimes but I’m working on it.
GOAL: Say no to one thing this week (not just your kids or partner). Say no to a meeting, a favour or a task.
As we move into the crazy period leading up to the Christmas holidays ask yourself what you need to do to find more time and not burn yourself out before the end of the year.