This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews that offers some excellent foundational steps to balancing your time. Kayla writes about work productivity. Her work has been featured in Fast Company and other publications. You can join her newsletter here.
Don’t Give Up All Your Time
Being a leader is an important role. When your team is relying on you to help them through their problems, tasks and questions, it can feel like you’re getting pulled in a million different directions. While you may be trying to be a great leader, you can feel like you’ve been stretched too thin.
You must find a balance between being a great leader and having time of your own. Because you have your own tasks and jobs that you need to complete, you can’t spend all your time helping others. However, as a leader, you also need to be there for your team.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save some time while still giving your team the attention that they need. From time management hacks to automation processes, let’s take a look at a few of the things you should consider if you’re struggling to balance being a leader and maintaining your own schedule.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” -Peter Drucker
If you struggle to get anything done because your team comes to you for help at all hours of the work day, that may be causing major problems. While you want your team to feel comfortable asking you for questions or help, being available throughout the entire day can encourage them to come into your office when they don’t really need help.
Take some time to schedule your day and share it with your team. If you have certain blocks of time that you’d like to focus on your own projects, let them know you’re only to be disturbed for emergencies or if there isn’t anyone else that can help with that issue. That time is to be used for your own work and duties.
While you should schedule time for your work, you should also schedule some open availability with your team. Let them know when you’re free to chat, discuss minor details of a project or when your office door is open to them. If that time doesn’t work for them or they need to discuss something important, put time in your schedule to help them.
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” -Jim Rohn
Matthew Snider is a writer, a personal development junkie and a regular blogger at Self Development Secrets, a blog to help you achieve your goals. For more tips like these, I encourage you to visit his site.
While staying organized can seem like a daunting task, there are some habits that almost all organized people practice. Adding these habits to your own life will help you get organized and stay that way. You may find that you really struggle in the first few days or weeks, but the reward of living an organized lifestyle will be worth it in the end.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” -Warren Buffett
People who are organized start out with a routine each morning. That routine may look different for some than it does for others. Some find it helps them to start their day with meditation while others find that exercising helps them get started. Regardless, establishing a pattern that you will follow each day helps you start to get your life together.
Everyone has the right to see a cup as half-empty or half-full. People who are organized see the cup as half-full. Then they concentrate on what they can do to make their cup even fuller. Disorganized people see the cup as half-empty and have no real idea of how to make it any fuller. So staying positive is really powerful.
Organization Tip: People who are organized see the cup as half-full.
Organized people take care of their correspondence on a daily basis. It does not matter whether it comes by text, email or snail mail, they set aside a specific time of day and handle all their correspondence at that time. During this time, they file information that is most important to them in an organized manner and discard the rest. They understand how to separate relevant and irrelevant information and do so effectively.
Organization Tip: Handle correspondence on a daily basis.
According to a study by the Centre for Organisational Excellence, people who are organized are more conscientious. They focus on what they can do to make the world a better place. They also tend to be very self-disciplined. Because of this, they are often content to tell others that they will not handle a task while disorganized people tend to accept too much responsibility.
5. Create a Space for Everything
People who are highly organized have a space for everything. That way, they do not waste time looking for anything. They also take the time to put everything back in its place when they are done using it. Most organized people have very few processions because they realize that the more things that they own, the more time it takes to care for them. They also keep the most important things that they need very near to them as this eliminates the need to get up and go find them. When a person gets up from a task, they often become distracted leading to disorganization.
6. Use Storage Systems
While disorganized people tend to throw everything in a big pile to deal with later, organized people keep everything in some sort of container. This helps them know exactly what they need to keep and what they can get rid of because if it does not have a space for it, then it needs to go immediately.
7. Become a List Maker
The most organized people create a list that tells them exactly what they need to accomplish. After creating the list, they then set priorities. They are driven to take care of the things that matter most first and then use leftover time to do the rest. They constantly have their lists with them as they do not trust their memories to keep them on the right track. An important part of setting priorities is dealing with the biggest problems first and then moving on from there. They understand when doing their best is good enough and when they must put in an all-out effort. Lifehacker has an amazing article about how to simplify your to-do list.
Do you want to motivate your staff and be a more effective leader?
Rhett Power is cofounder of the toy company Wild Creations, named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies. He is a speaker and author and has written for numerous publications from Time to the Wall Street Journal. I recently spoke to him about his research on success.
As a busy entrepreneur, with multiple conflicting to-do lists, how do you prioritize personal development? Why is this critically important?
In my first business, I learned that if I didn’t take the time for personal development, then my business would suffer. I buried myself into making that first business work. I worked 20 hours a day seven days a week. After two years, I was nearly bankrupt, and I was physically and emotionally wiped out. I wasn’t reading, eating well, exercising, or spending time with family and friends. When I stopped to reevaluate my life and made significant changes, I saw dramatic results.
I started taking more time out of the business. When I was well rested, I made better decisions. When I started exercising, I had more energy and was more productive. When I started to take time for personal and professional growth, meaning spending time reading, researching, and planning, my business took off.
“Constant self-improvement is as important as a physical workout.” -Rhett Power
Let’s start with overcoming fears. You faced some seriously challenging days and, in the end, you now say that facing a fear helps you gain strength. What practical tips can you share for someone who feels paralyzed with fear?
I have always believed I would rather have my fate in my own hands than in someone else’s. That is why I kept going even when times were tough, and I was scared we were going to fail. It’s important to understand that significant fear cannot be overcome overnight. That’s why it’s significant. To effectively deal with this kind of fear, it’s helpful to break down the object of your fear into small, more manageable parts. One of the benefits of breaking down a task that you fear is it can provide you with some insight as to what, specifically, about the task causes you to have fear.
The other thing that always makes me less fearful is preparation. Everyone remembers the feeling of confidence you get from being ready for that school exam. You also know the feeling of not being prepared. I find being over-prepared makes that feeling of fear turn into confidence.
Each time you face a fear, no matter how small, and overcome it, you gain great strength. That strength turns to courage and that courage to confidence in the doing–no matter what “doing” you might be called upon to do.
Reward and Recognize Good Work
You share the importance of valuing employees. As an entrepreneur, you also know that resources are often a challenge. What creative ways have you seen to accomplish this goal on a limited budget?
Even on the tightest budget, you should recognize and reward great work. Here are some things I do in my businesses:
Ask staff to post recognition notes to each other on a bulletin board. Add testimonies from external customers.
Give people time off. Time is the most precious gift, and people will always remember that afternoon or day to do what they love.
Send a letter to the employee’s family, telling them why their loved one is so important to the company’s mission.
Do one of the employee’s least favorite tasks.
Give a coffee or carwash gift card, sports or movie tickets.
Allow people to work from home or present them with a “flexible day” certificate.
Give departments their own week: Accounting Week, Programmer Week, etc. Recognize the contributions made, take them to lunch, make certificates.
Create opportunities: to be a mentor, chair a committee, do research.
Celebrate birthdays, babies, weddings, graduations, and any happy time.
Establish a “Wall of Fame” for photos and clippings that recognize outstanding achievements. Mention staff in the company newsletter, too.
Say, “I’m glad you’re here,” and “Thank you.”
Bring people together for cake and socializing or a meal like a potluck lunch.
If you are constantly juggling priorities and trying to keep it all together, you may not just need time management. You may need a new model. One that increase confidence and allows you to lead from a position of strength.
Jeremie, your newest book, 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time, coauthored with Steve Cockram is a thought-provoking new model of work-life balance. How did you develop it?
The book is a metaphor that we created to explain what we were seeing in each other as we were forming our company several years ago. Steve is British, and we had just moved to London, where I was learning how to smoothly drive a left-handed stick shift vehicle. As I lunged and ground the gears in our vehicle I used the analogy of why we are so often in the wrong gear at the wrong time socially and why we tend to disconnect and run people over figuratively.
Copyright Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram, Used by Permission
Big data not only has the potential to usher in change, but it is already revolutionizing whole industries. Companies are collecting and utilizing data in ways that most of us are just beginning to understand. Some of us have followed stories of social media companies and how they use data. But it’s beyond that now. Televisions have been created that capture what you are saying. Flashlight apps on our phones have accessed your data. On the other hand, some companies have used data to make our lives easier and personalize our experience.
In Matters of Life and Data, Charles D. Morgan takes you on his personal journey from humble beginnings to CEO of First Orion Corp. He serves on numerous boards and notably was the CEO of Acxiom Corporation from 1972 to 2008. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with him about his new memoir and his experience in the world of big data.
Warning: A flashlight phone app may access the data on your phone.