Avoid the “White Rabbit Syndrome”
Some leaders think that the busier they are, the more valued or significant they are. Truth is, these too-busy leaders, who always appear to be in a dead-run from meeting to meeting or activity to activity, really come across as people who cannot control their time. You probably know such people (and maybe you are one of them). These leaders are going 100 miles per hour, endlessly over-preoccupied. They’re stuck in that classic White Rabbit Syndrome, always rushing about and worried about some “very important date…no time to say hello, goodbye—I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” Disciplined leaders, however, know it’s important to manage their time. As you develop your own habits as a more disciplined leader, find ways to stop rushing so you can make time for the people around you. Reflect control and confidence, building in ways to create the time to focus on your people and other vital responsibilities.
Here are three ways to take back time and gain greater control of today:
Learn to say “no.” When I was a new manager, I had the tendency to put a lot on my plate. Like other young, aspiring leaders, I had tons of energy and felt I had to make the most of it, saying “yes” to anyone and everything that was asked of me. Eventually, I discovered that even when you’re young, you can overextend yourself, which can actually unintentionally harm professional and personal wellness. After studying my leadership role models, I realized saying “no” boils down to understanding what is and isn’t vital to your success. It also demands confidence, the willingness and courage to release or delegate what’s trivial and put your focus on only what’s vital.
Don’t overbook. Whether you’re using tools like Outlook or remaining true to just a good old-fashioned calendar, make it a habit to become an excellent time and taskmaster. Track your time to see how you’re spending every minute and avoid the tendency to overbook meetings and activities. One great strategy for this latter challenge is to give all meetings a 15-minute buffer on either side, so you won’t be late for whatever is happening next.
Schedule free time. This is pretty common sense but if you force yourself to actually carve out time to slow down and even stop—then you will. But only you and you alone can do this. No one else is going to sit you down in a chair and force you to relax. No one else is going to make you take a much-needed bike ride in the sunshine. No one else is going to schedule your massage or lunch date with a friend. You’ve got to take responsibility for shifting into a lower gear on a regular basis, planning for that crucial family, friend or “me” time. Interestingly, when you do this, not only will it benefit your health and well-being, but it will also demonstrate to others that you’re in control of that fragile work-life balance and that you care enough about yourself to maintain it. This healthy habit builds self-respect while increasing the respect others have for you.
As a leader, what have you realized is OK to stop doing or delegate?