Recently many, if not nearly all, of my coaching sessions seem to have a recurring theme, and when many, if not all, of my clients are stuck in the same place or facing the same issue, I begin to sense a pattern. An epidemic of sorts.
How do we stay on top of all we have to do, when there is literally too much to do, while also staying engaged and at our best?
Our 24-7 (which sometimes feels like 28-9) society is pushing us past our limits. We’re expected to be “always on” – by ourselves and sometimes by others – and this always on-ness is stretching us too far. Over and over again I remind my clients (and myself) that if there is too much to do, there is too much to do. By definition that means that it all can’t get done.
And effective leadership – and life – is figuring out what of the everythings that need to get done really need to get done…and what to do with the rest.
My clients and I discuss Stephen Covey’s Urgent-Important matrix. I help them figure out how they’ll figure out what is really important for them – and specifically them – to do, and then to dig deeper, what is really important and not urgent for them to do. Because we often skip the Important-but-Not-Urgent things for the Not-Important-but-Urgent things, and the Important-but-Not-Urgent things, when focused on, can help us have fewer urgent things to do. What are the things they need to make time for? What are the things they can let go? What are the things they can delegate (and to whom) or forget about?
I offer my clients the Harvard Business Review article Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy. If you haven’t read it, read it. Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time offers suggestions on how to increase out effectiveness by managing four dimensions of personal energy – physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy, and spiritual energy. We all are limited to twenty-four hours in our days, but if we find ways to refuel and replenish ourselves, we have more capacity to face what we have to face.
I help my clients discover and invent simple ways to take care of themselves and work their way through their “too-much-to-do-ness.” It can be as simple as the Urgent-Important matrix or setting aside time each morning to figure out what’s most important to do (and doing it). Or to block off time for projects and time to look at emails. Or a quote such as “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours,” from Richard Bach. Or quick articles such as this from Thrive Global.
We can’t be on as much and as often as we’re expected (and we expect ourselves) to be on. We can’t do more than is literally possible to do. We can’t get it all done. And we can’t keep driving ourselves at a hectic pace. It’s important to take the time to be Thoughtful – again to be present, intentional, and authentic – and to find you ways to figure out what is essential that you do…and do it, and then find time for yourself.
How have you managed your too-much-to-do?
Please leave a comment.
If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
For support in moving successfully through this epidemic of sorts, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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