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Managing Your Time as a Leader - The Systems Thinker

Sustainable Productivity

Instead of increasing the number of productive hours, we can focus on getting the right things done in a timely way. We also need to restore and balance ourselves, our colleagues, family and environment, instead of a neurotic or pathological focus on deadlines.

Find out what's truly important to us and use the finite resource of time wisely.

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Managing Your Time as a Leader - The Systems Thinker

Managing Your Time as a Leader - The Systems Thinker

https://thesystemsthinker.com/managing-your-time-as-a-leader/

thesystemsthinker.com

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Key Ideas

The Pressure Of Time

Most leaders have familiar approaches to managing time: setting goals, planning, delegating, tracking commitments, and creating to-do lists. While these approaches do help in self-organization, they are not adequate in helping achieve high levels of sustainable, long-term performance.

The challenge is to have a fast-paced occupation while avoiding burnout, slippage, and sub-optimal performance.

Sustainable Productivity

Instead of increasing the number of productive hours, we can focus on getting the right things done in a timely way. We also need to restore and balance ourselves, our colleagues, family and environment, instead of a neurotic or pathological focus on deadlines.

Find out what's truly important to us and use the finite resource of time wisely.

Phantom Workload

Phantom workload looks like real work but results in massive unproductivity and even conflict in an organization. The pressure to meet unrealistic expectations causes a vicious cycle of further workload.

Leaders need to take a hard look at what is being avoided or not addressed. Facing difficult tasks that were 'swept under the carpet' earlier strengthens them further to make hard decisions and face difficult people and situations.

The Four Domains of Time

Time can be managed in four domains: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Material. This corresponds to the four key functions of leadership:

  • Mobilizing commitment.
  • Thinking strategically.
  • Building relationships and community.
  • Organizing for action.

Thinking Strategically

The mental domain consists of being able to think strategically, prioritizing between short-term and long-term goals, urgent and important activity, easy or difficult work, and the level of comfort in the tasks.

Our focus has to be on the long-term important tasks that seem difficult and are hence avoided.

Building Relationships

We usually overlook the emotional aspect of working with people while handling tight deadlines.

Leaders have to take simple actions like trusting and respecting their colleagues and team members, being true to themselves and have a clear understanding of the value of any work assignment, meeting or request. Making reliable commitments ensures that others keep their agreements as well.

Organizing For Action

Organizing for action means creating useful, workable and scalable systems that make us access information and track commitments quickly.
It means managing your email effectively and ensuring adequate follow-ups are done.

Change Your Behaviour

Time management practices require a change in behavior:

  1. Know your purpose and establish why you need to change, identifying the benefits.
  2. Create a vision of you being on top of your workday.
  3. Observe the current cultural, organizational and personal pressures of your workday.
  4. Talk about getting support if needed.
  5. Use time management tools with skill.
  6. Take the necessary action.
  7. Look deeper and reflect on your behavioral change.

Manage Your Email

  • Focus on what's genuinely important in a day and do that, before checking your email.
  • Check the email in time blocks, like once every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Discard all impersonal unnecessary emails.
  • Briefly answer messages that require an instant response.
  • Use subject line protocols to speed up communication and for easy searching.
  • Keep only alive messages (hot email) in your inbox.
  • Allocate time daily or weekly to deal with complex replies.
  • Ask people to remove you from their distribution lists that are no longer appropriate.
  • Do not reply to or write an email when you are unsettled or upset.
  • Do not use e-mail for overtly sensitive communication.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Time Management And Personality

In order for any time-management method to be successful, you have to take into account people’s individual behaviors at work. There is no one-size-fits-all method for time management.

The Action Hero

Give them a seemingly impossible list of tasks and they will have them done and dusted faster than a speeding bullet. But in their haste, they can miss things and prioritize nonurgent tasks.

Strategy: For this type, ranking tasks according to urgency is a good call. 

The Diva

Very sociable and upbeat but with a tendency to procrastinate, they often boast about their nonexistent achievements giving the impression they are more productive than they really are.

Strategy: breaking tasks into tiny steps, scheduling their resolution and setting reminders works well. Email management according to urgency is also crucial considering how much time it usually consumes. 

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Time Management For Leaders

Managing time gets challenging as our career progresses and we take up more responsibilities. Five ways we can manage our time like a successful leader:

  • Plan reali...
Plan The Unexpected Important Stuff

About 40% to 60% of our day is taken up by important stuff that needs our attention but is not on our daily calendar. 

Planning our day accordingly, keeping about half of it free for these 'out-of-calendar' activities, is realistic and sustainable.

Ask For Time

Instead of committing to getting the requested assignment done as soon as possible, factor in some buffer time and ask for a couple of days or a week. 

This will help you get the work done along with any 'reactive realities' that come up, and it's a win-win if you get it done before the deadline.

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There isn’t enough time
Complaining that you don’t have enough time is not getting to the root problem. It may be that you’re lousy at time management. Admit to yourself that there is enough time -- you just don’t know how t...
A one size fits all solution

Instead of relying on a tool with all the bells and whistles, find out where you’re struggling and what’s essential for you. 

For example, if scheduling is taking you away from product development, then you could use a scheduling tool that uses machine learning to automate most of your scheduling needs. If you’re wasting too much time on email, then consider using a tool to help tame your inbox.

Less anxiety

Time management is only useful when you’re aware of your limitations and don't let the system dictate your entire life. 

In other words, when you don’t tread lightly (especially at first), time management can add more stress to your life.

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Fear is natural

Unrecognized or unacknowledged core fears are almost always a root cause of professional distress and unattained potential.

The fears are not necessarily bad. A willingness to take a h...

Most common fears
  • Fear of being wrong. People with this fear are extremely focused on rules, ethics, standards, and “right vs wrong.”
  • Fear of not being good enough. Those with this fear tend to be insecure, intensely focused on their image, and desperate to prove their worth. 
  • Fear of missing out. This drives leaders to constantly seek new opportunities and experiences and to pursue multiple interests at once.
  • Fear of being victimized or taken advantage of. Those suffering from this fear feel the need to win every battle and can be defensive and controlling.
Admit your fear

In the first phase, take a close look at your history. Examine the choices you've made and the reasons behind those choices.

For instance, not putting effort into pursuing your own interests but instead, activities in which you can excel could point to the fear of not being good enough.

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Agile leadership

Focuses on fast decision making, short-term goals, and the empowerment of individuals

And it has expanded to include general leadership skills like acting on a shared vision, le...

The 2 elements of the servant leadership
  • Vision: Creating a shared vision is the leadership part of servant leadership;
  • Implementation: Helping people implement that vision is the servant part of servant leadership.

Agile leaders are servant leaders.

Situational Leadership® II (SLII®)

It's a servant leadership model taught by The Ken Blanchard Companies, based on the belief that leadership style should be tailored to the situation

This kind of flexibility is a key principle of agile organizations.

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Lead with ethics

True leaders are proof you can do well by doing right. 

Their ethics are etched in their very being, as natural impulses that never go out of style.

Lead by example

True leaders don’t expect others to do anything they aren’t willing to do themselves.

Their leadership comes from their actions.

Lead with fairness

True leaders rise above their own prejudices and treat everyone equally.

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Managers vs. leaders

While managers' objectives include providing a more stable organization of the enterprise as a whole, leaders are more driven by the idea of setting new and challenging directions, that coul...

Overconfident leaders

Nowadays, we tend to believe that individuals showing too great self-confidence behave this way mainly because they are more qualified than others to get a leadership position. 

However, it is often soon afterwards that we come to realize that those very same persons are not competent enough, but only rather narcissistic.

A successful leader

Successful leaders do not only have to work hard, but they should also bear in mind the importance that a motivated team can have in the company's growth. 

Moreover, enterprises that encourage the development of their own young employees to positions of leadership get to know profit for longer periods of time.

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Accountability

It means responsible behavior, and requires a personal understanding of our own role and responsibilities, our individual performance goals, including standards to measure success, our ...

Rules Followed By Accountable Leaders
  1. They take full responsibility for decisions.
  2. They take responsibility for communication and make sure their decisions and actions plans are clearly understood.
  3. They always think and say, “We” instead of “I.”
  4. They run effective meetings. 
  5. They transform problems into constructive feedback.
Larry Fink

“Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential; it will ultimat..."

Larry Fink
Human Well-being 

As companies strive to become more meaningful, purpose-led, sustainable and connected to human well-being, they are seeing increasing value among stakeholders and customers.

A crucial Alliance

To make real progress, governments, civil society, companies, and charities must come together and form an alliance.

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Procrastinating and emotions

According to traditional thinking, procrastinators have a time-management problem. They are unable to understand how long a task will take and need to learn how to schedule their time better.

Short-term mood lifters

Studies show low mood only increases procrastination if enjoyable activities are available as a distraction. In other words, we're drawn to other activities to avoid the discomfort of applying ourselves.

Adverse consequences

Procrastination leads to two primary consequences.

  1. It's stressful to keep putting off important tasks and failing to meet your goals.
  2. Procrastination often involves delaying important health behaviors, such as taking up exercise or visiting a doctor.

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