As busy leaders, it can easily become habit to multitask. While I am a fan of multitasking in my private office time, I do not recommend this type of work during meetings and interactions with other people. In meetings (regardless of who called the meeting), being distracted shows others that you do not believe them or their agenda to be important enough to prioritize over your phone, walkie talkie, laptop, or planning notes.
Even if you have trained yourself to put your phone down during meetings, you may still find that your mind wanders during meetings or conversations with team members. You may find yourself daydreaming, thinking about the next meeting, worrying about a task or project that is urgent and due, or remembering something that you forgot to take care of before attending the meeting. The next thing you are aware of is someone calling your name or even the adjourning of the meeting! When you attend meetings in that way, you are simply a present body--you did not gain anything from the meeting, nor did you contribute or engage fully. Simply put, it was a waste of time.
To keep this from happening, I encourage you to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the intentional action of focusing on the activity or experience at hand, becoming aware of when you are distracted, and taking steps to regain focus. I often refer to this when addressing my team as being "present in the moment". Employees and team members will appreciate your focused attention on them and the meetings you engage in. Your focused attention is not only a sign of respect, but it also allows you to be thoroughly engaged and ready to lend your ideas and expertise to the discussed topic.
Mindfulness is a great practice to exercise at work and even in home life. If you need help prioritizing and planning your work load so that you can be mindful during interactions with others, let me help! Contact me for a free consultation.
Are you prioritizing properly? When a leader expresses to me that they are not meeting goals or their organization isn't running efficiently, I inquire about their priorities. Why? Because what we spend time on and what we focus on is what gets done and what succeeds.
We have a tendency to set the wrong priorities because some tasks are simpler. These simple tasks are a wanted distraction from the tougher, more complex issues. And we justify setting the wrong priorities because we are "getting things done". That's what I call "busy work". More than likely you have a great employee that can handle the busy work so that you can focus on the big picture items for your organization. How do you know if you are setting the right priorities? Ask yourself the following questions:
A leader's time is valuable so it is important to properly set priorities so your time is not wasted!
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One of the best concepts that I learned about in business school was the concept of "opportunity costs". Opportunity cost basically refers to the loss of the potential value or benefit that you would have received from a choice or alternative that you didn't take. For example, my 6-year-old thinks $1 is a lot of money, expecially if we go into the dollar store. He will often spend a long time agonizing about whether he should buy a toy (which will be broken before we get home) or a piece of candy. Once my son decides to buy the candy, the opportunity cost of his decision is the toy that he DIDN'T get. This usually doesn't cause my son too much anxiety. What does cause him anxiety is when we go to another store and he sees his favorite bag of chips for, guess how much...$1! My son quickly realized that the opportunity cost of spending his dollar on candy was also the bag of chips that he didn't know about!
I say all that to say, sometimes, we don't stop to truly examine the opportunity costs of our choices. At work, we may have a hard time delegating and find ourselves doing a task that can be given to someone else. What is the opportunity cost of you spending a half hour creating that spreadsheet that your assistant knows how to do? A missed opportunity for a critical conversation with an employee? Loss time to work on a project that is due soon? What's great about the concept of opportunity cost is that it applies to ANY of our resources--time, money, attention, etc.--whether at work or at home. What is the opportunity cost of spending $50 on a new pair of shoes? What is the opportunity cost of spending the evening watching your favorite television shows?
Whenever we make a choice, we are getting one thing instead of another. But how often do we stop and contemplate what our choices are really costing us? I challenge you to start thinking about the opportunity costs of your decisions to help you determine if you are using your resources in the best way.
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If you work 60 or more hours a week, bring your work home, dream about your work, and are always on call, you know what it means to be a workaholic. For workaholics, weekends and holidays are for catching up on work, not rest and fun. There are several problems with being a workaholic: 1) you don't have time for the things that matter most, like family and friends; 2) you get burned out and your health (mental and physical) will suffer; and 3) people begin to expect you to work all the time.
Everyone needs a break. Working 24/7 doesn't benefit anyone and if you're on salary, you probably aren't making any more extra money by doing so. The fact is, some things on your to-do list can wait. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! When you prioritize, you can find that the world will not cease spinning if you put a task off until tomorrow so you can enjoy an evening or holiday with friends and family (and rest!).
If you are having trouble prioritizing and setting boundaries with your boss and coworkers, I'm here to help! I have strategies that you can use to determine what needs to be done now and what can wait and how you can get others to respect your boundaries. Call or email today!