31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader
Day #27: Managing Time
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days. –Zig Ziglar
This is a funny title, because we can’t manage time! We can, however, manage our use of time. We all have the same amount of time every day. Not all of us use it wisely or even to our best interest.
My definition of a leader is a 3-part definition. A leader is a person who:
- Gets things done – it’s not activity, it’s accomplishment.
- Knows how things get done – either you know or you figure out how.
- Influences others – basically, a leader is an influencer.
Here’s my list for getting more done in your normal day:
Stick to your goals
After all the time and energy you spent defining goals and then setting monthly milestones, please honor those as commitments to your own success.
In the book The Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles Hummel, we learn now ordinary and unimportant tasks become urgent. It’s better to manage urgent things as important items in life, rather than tending to unimportant things that have become urgent because we didn’t prioritize them. Set priorities to be able to tend to important items with your full attention when they are not urgent and stressful.
Define what not to do
You have created a plan for your work in the system I have defined in this series of podcasts. If you know what you are supposed to be doing and understand the importance of those accomplishments, then active the word “no” for yourself and others. This leaves time to deal with unexpected priorities that come up from time to time. It’s interesting, however, that fewer unexpected urgent things come up when you are managing the priorities.
Use your calendar
Plan activities on your calendar when you need to be physically present, including the to-dos in your office. Those are the “nows” of the day. Those don’t include the time between each “now” and the time after each “now” to take notes and time-activate decisions and actions. Plan your day in 25-minute segments with a 5-minute break to move your body. Sitting all day is deadly for your health.
Playing music in the background is a major distraction for me. I am a musician and the music grabs my attention. When conducting a musical ensemble, I have realized that when I move my hands in conducting, even that ordinary, necessary, and expected movement takes brain power. I lose about 40% of my ability to hear because some of my brain is focused on the movement of my hands.
Some leaders claim that they can get work done in a coffee shop. I find the people very distracting. I do my best work in a quite place with no views to tempt my imagination. When taking frequent breaks, I can enjoy a view, cup of coffee, or exchange with others for stimulation.
Learn the art of delegation and USE it
I have already spoken about delegation. I have not suggested strongly enough that it is essential for any leader. When leading a nonprofit, engage volunteers. They have a passion for what you are doing, so let them realize that passion and help you achieve the organization’s goals.
Have an accountability partner
This is not your spouse or best friend…Find a person who will tell you what you need to hear and not just be nice.
Care for self
Be sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise. An alert mind is a high-functioning mind and one that’s less tolerant of time-wasting activities. Pace yourself and schedule breaks to walk around. You must move. Sitting is not healthy.
Next: Day #28 – Managing Stress