Tips for the Time-Poor Professional
Believe me … I didn’t raise my hand for this opportunity. I can barely hit a nail with a hammer. I guess I’m organized, which is why someone on the committee looked at me during our first meeting and said, “I think you should lead this effort.”
Like many of you, I’m time poor. (I actually think I might be bankrupt.) But, I’m learning a few powerful lessons during this stress test that I’d like to share with you if you feel like you’re pushed to the max, too.
Before You Commit to Anything, Get Clear on Your Priorities. You might think I’m crazy for taking on all of this and while I might agree, I’d also like to offer that all of these activities are aligned with one of my top three priorities, which is why I said “yes.” Here they are:
- Professional Fulfillment
For the record, I’ve said “no” to things recently, too, to make room for my “yes’s.” When asked if I want to get involved in anything new, I say, “let me think about it” before I commit. Clear priorities give me guidelines on whether I should say “yes” to anything new.
You Can’t Do Everything. We all have limitations. What I’ve learned is that I can’t be everywhere at once, I don’t always make the best decisions, and there are others willing to step up and help when asked. To manage, we have to delegate and empower. As a friend of mine put it, as you climb the ladder of responsibility, you eventually have to take a foot off of a rung. Sometimes it’s hard for people to give up control as they assume more responsibility. I’m re-learning one of the best leadership lessons that I picked up in the Marine Corps: You can delegate authority, but not responsibility. When you delegate authority, you give people autonomy – something we all crave. As task delegated can be a great learning opportunity for someone else.
Sometimes Good Enough Is … Good Enough. A key decision the float committee made on our first meeting was that we weren’t going to be the best float in the parade. While there were a trillion things we could do to “pimp our float,” we weren’t going to do them. We’re all busy and in the greater scheme of life, this mattered but not that much. When you’re busy, how you allocate your minutes is critical. During the week, there are things I spend time on and things I don’t. There are things that I perfect, and there are things I choose not to. In your world, you know when you’re trying to make perfect things that don’t matter. The key is being able to recognize when good enough is really good enough.
For all of us, we strive to feel full lives. I’ve given up on the notion that life can feel balanced – is anything ever evenly distributed? Rather, harmony and fulfillment are my goals. I gain harmony my living my priorities, which connect to values. Fulfillment comes from the joy of the joy of expressing talents that I believe I have.
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