by David Spungin
Quite often I’ll get requests to teach effective time management skills to managers. People are “juggling more balls in the air” than ever before and many can’t ever seem to catch up with the pace of life. To really address these challenges, we must not only look at how people are managing their time, but also at how they are managing their stress and energy levels.
Time, Stress and Energy are undoubtedly interconnected and thus leaders should learn to excel in all three of these competencies in order to maximize their personal effectiveness. Think about your own experiences. Some days you might not be able to get your to-do list accomplished. This in turn might lead you to start thinking about all the things you need to catch up on and as your mind starts racing, your stress levels rise. You lie awake at night trying to figure out what to do next, losing valuable sleep and waking the next day with even less energy than the day before.
So what can we do to reduce this self-perpetuating cycle? I would like to highlight what I believe to be the single best thing you can do for each of these domains.
- Manage your time by practicing “worst first.” Everyone has something they dread doing throughout the day. Get into the habit of doing it first thing in the morning. Not only will you manage your time better, but you’ll feel less stressed and more energized as you no longer have that monkey hanging on your back.
- Manage your stress by finding a physical outlet. Nothing busts through stress like physical activity. I have found nothing more effective for limiting stress levels than 30 minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise daily. Leaders hold their boundaries firmly when it comes to making time to exercise. This means they schedule time in their calendar and protect it accordingly.
- Manage your energy by maximizing your time off. Think of your personal energy level as being like a car’s fuel tank, you can only go so long before you need to stop and refuel. Yet, not all fuel is created equal; there are various levels of octane to choose from. When it’s time to refuel, put the right stuff in your system. Do the things that bring you the most energy. Maybe you love to travel, or spend time outdoors, or really invest in quality time with your family. Plan accordingly and when your downtime happens, invest in your energy reserves.
Committing to mastering these three skills can greatly increase your personal effectiveness as a leader. The key word is commitment and all new behaviors start with a personal choice. So what choices will you make today?