I coach my clients all the time on making the highest and best use of their talent and skills and focusing on the Right Work (the three things that will have the biggest business impact). Two weeks ago, when I was out facilitating a leadership development program for one of the Big 4, I realized that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. So, of course, this inspired some action on my part to make some big changes and the following questions for you:
1. How much time do you reserve each week to be strategic?
How much do you find yourself reacting to what’s going on around you versus strategically driving things forward? Many of my clients have instituted a practice of setting aside uninterrupted time at least 2-3 times a week. To get started, I have them dedicate 15-20 minutes once per week unless they can do more. Most people can find that small amount of time even if they have a packed schedule. As they realize how much of a difference a small amount of time can make, they inevitably find ways to carve out more time. Once you start implementing this strategy, I would encourage you to specify exactly what you want to accomplish in the time you set aside and communicate to your team that this is sacred time (i.e., please do NOT interrupt me!).
2. What takes up a lot of time but just isn’t the right work for you?
One of my clients recently expressed her frustration that she spends too much time reviewing and editing PowerPoint presentations for meetings. In fact, if she could resolve this issue, she would get back 20 hours per month!!!! Now, that’s a serious incentive to make something happen.
As we delved deeper, we realized that this situation presented an opportunity for her to delegate while developing her team in a meaningful way. We discussed several ideas including arming the team with her three review criteria, instituting a peer review process, and pairing up employees who are less skilled with those who can already do this well to promote teaching.
So, what’s taking up a lot of your time? How can you use it as an opportunity to develop your team, while freeing up more of your time? What other resources should you ask for?
3. Are you taking a long-term perspective?
Sometimes you can get in your own way whether it’s because of perfectionism, just doing what you’ve always done, or simply thinking it’s just easier to do the work yourself than ask for help.
I want to challenge you to take a longer-term view and think about whether it makes sense to invest a small amount of time now to teach someone else how to do a particular task so you can save a LOT of time down the road. Remember that all of those minutes can add up to a lot of hours or days that you could wisely invest elsewhere. With that perspective, what are you going to stop doing?
As you read through the questions above, I hope they stimulated some ideas. Identify one thing that you’d like to change and put into practice for yourself starting next week. Remember, small steps lead to big results and the goal is to just get started.
© 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.