“The day just got away.”
“I always feel behind.”
“I feel overwhelmed.”
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“If only they would leave me alone to do my job!”
If these sound awfully familiar to you, I’ve got good news: you’re far from alone. Whether coming from you, your coworkers, or worse, the team you lead, everyone experiences mental blocks like this from time to time. Frustration or negative commentary in one’s head reinforces the sense of failure, keeping them from completing even the simplest of tasks. Potential finger pointing or blame on others may be a consequence of this, negatively impacting the culture or work environment.
What causes this to happen? How can you complete your duties while helping others as needed? How can one create a structure which is both firm and flexible at the same time? Let’s look at each of these separately.
Many of these sayings are born from a sense where the day is running you rather than you running your day, especially in fast paced work environments. It is easy to get caught up in the frenetic energy of customers or other employee’s projects.
One of the main causes of this reactive state of working is due to a lack of structure or planning to one’s day. Without a structured plan to the workday, one waits for the day to come to them or waits for others to direct the workday. If there are multiple projects, then each one will command attention, but not everything can be a top priority. This results in an internal struggle between which to tackle first, hours fly by, and by the end of the day nothing has been accomplished.
If no one bothered you or pulled you away from your tasks, how would you schedule your day? Answering this question and writing down what you need to accomplish is the beginning of creating a structure to your day.
1. List your duties or tasks you need to accomplish each day.
2. List your duties or tasks you need to accomplish weekly or monthly.
3. Look at your calendar and assign timeframes to complete the task.
4. Commit to focusing on working in one or 2 hour focused timeframes.
You lead a team of 8 salespeople and need to deliver personalized training to each of them twice a month. First, document what training you will deliver, how long each session will be, and how long will it take you to prepare for the training. In this example, it will take 30 minutes to prepare and each session will take 30 minutes to deliver.
Next, pick a time during the workday where it is consistently slower pace or the team is not tied up with customers. Designate 30 minute blocks on the calendar to prepare training and then 30 minute blocks for training sessions. This is now time each week where nothing else is scheduled. At this time it is not necessary to assign the salesperson for the session; this could be done weekly as you prepare your week.
If you schedule one person a day, then this becomes easier to accomplish over the month. The same can happen for meetings or preparation for meetings. Every project or task should be scheduled on the calendar. Many tasks happen all the time so scheduling them creates a structure to be followed yet flexible if needed.
Even if you get pulled away, you have a checklist of duties you can always get back to. At the end of each day, schedule the last 30 minutes to review the day and if tasks were not able to be completed due to other priorities, then reschedule as needed. The biggest advantage of it is that it does not require you to remember everything.
In our busy day to day world of leading teams and delivering results, without a plan of action each day, you will lose control and end up wondering where the day went.
For those individuals who lead teams and are looking to improve their skills, join me in NJ on July 24th-25th for a two-day workshop titled You have the Job, Now What? Building & Leading a High Performing Team.
Click here for more information