There are forces at work every day conspiring to steal your day away from you.
Every leader starts the day with the same 24 hours as every other leader on planet earth. But for the most effective leaders I know, they make it the highest priority to identify those time-wasters that can steal your day, and they work ruthlessly to eliminate those elements out of their day.
In my experience, these are three of the most perilous time wasters any leader can encounter:
1. Unmanaged emails
Email can be a strategic leadership tool. Or it can be one of your greatest time wasters. It’s all how you manage it.
Volumes have been written by very smart people on the topic, but as a start,
- Turn off your email prompts. No bells, buzzers, whistles or beeps to alert you that an email has arrived.
- Check your email no more than 2 or 3 times per day.
- Make the “delete” button your best friend. Most emails do not require action nor a reply.
If you don’t have a clear, compelling, specific reason for a meeting, don’t have it.
If there is no problem in front of you that needs to be solved, don’t waste your time, nor the time of others, by sitting around a table for 30 or 60 minutes.
And “checking in” is not an acceptable reason to meet.
There is an important time and place for exchanging pleasantries and catching up on personal news. But a “prime time” meeting is not the place.
3. Your “pressure-escape” place.
When the pressure is on, every leader has an activity they are drawn to that seems to alleviate the stress.
For some it’s drawing org charts.
For others it’s doing paper work.
The point is, most of these escapes are not productive activities. They simply assuage the feelings of pressure for a while.
Know what your pressure-escape place is. And minimize your time there.
How and where you spend your time can be the “leadership ball game” in terms of your effectiveness.
So be aware of the time wasters that can creep into your day, and just go to war to eradicate them.
It can be the first step in taking back your day.