Last week I had a great conversation with friend and marketing guru Tim Phelan (https://www.linkedin.com/in/timphelan10/). He helped give me some clarity on several ideas I have bouncing around inside my cavernous melon.
For example, a few weeks ago I made a post that science shows that we get ‘dumber’ when we try to multitask. We think it’s helping to get more done, but in fact we get less accomplished, make more mistakes and lower our creativity. Further, it contributes to the frustration of feeling like we didn’t get enough accomplished again today. I have struggled with this and I am making a concerted effort to try and stay on task and not get distracted by ‘squirrel’!
I bring this up as I have noticed a recurring theme in many of my coaching calls recently where clients want to Get More Done. In other words - Better Time Management. Many people feel as though they have to increasingly do more with less.
A concept that I use in training and coaching, Living Above the Line, points us in a direction that can help. Here is one example:
As a leader, think about a typical day. How often do you have peers and/or people on your team popping in to see you to ask a question, get clarification or complain about something that ‘isn’t working’? Do you typically have the answer……and give it to them? Or tell them how to fix it?
Are you the ‘answer’ person on your team or in your company? The go-to person that almost everyone comes to for answers because of your education, training and experience? Feels good to help people and be the one they come to for answers, right?
Well STOP IT!
Yah seriously, stop doing that. At least stop doing it so often. As long as you always give them the answers, they’ll keep interrupting your day. Think about it – how often does the person asking the question probably already know the answer? Or, how often with a little help, they could go and figure it out themselves? Additionally, how often are they simply wanting to bitch about somebody or something?
While it’s helpful to vent, we need to move the conversation to a positive place or outcome.
We need to get, you, and them, Living Above the Line. This is all about your frame of mind, your approach or perspective. For example, what may happen if you said to them something like:
“What do YOU think we should do to fix this”?
“How do YOU suggest we move forward”
Imagine all the different and good things that can happen from this. First, you are creating the environment where they come with problems AND solutions; or at least ideas. Second, they will eventually start to figure these things out on their own and come to you less and less. From a time-management perspective, imagine this: a team that is, eventually over time, more confident, more engaged and independent. Would this future team come to you less often for answers. Can that save you 30 minutes a day? An hour? More?
Many of my coaching clients have found that getting better, even incrementally over time, at Living Above the Line, has many benefits, including giving themselves more time to work on their own work. Some even spend less time fighting fires, dealing with other people’s problem and being less task focused and (gasp) more working on big picture strategic initiatives.
Sounds awesome right?
Stop having ALL of the answers ALL of the time. Identify the appropriate opportunities in your day to help someone answer their own questions or find their own answers (good leadership right!). Besides being good for them, it will also help you gain some time during your day.