“Do we need gas?”
I say these four words every time my wife and I are about to hit the road to visit our family in Michigan.
As leaders, some of us do a decent job of making sure our cars have a full tank of gas.
But what about us?
Do we need gas?
Are we running low?
Here are 3 ways to go from E to F.
Refill #1 – Audit your environment.
Our cup might be overflowing — Some of us have become so used to running at this frantic pace that we’ve forgotten how fast we’re going.
Too many of us are running on auto-pilot and have accepted this constant state of burnout as normal life. A wise client of mine calls it: “The perpetual state of blah”.
Our very first step is to stop and take inventory of everything on our plate. We can’t overcome this feeling of blah if we don’t understand what’s hijacking our mental and emotional real estate.
Here’s a start:
- What activities are you currently over-indexed in?
- What activities are youcurrently under-indexed in?
- How much of your time is spent on energy-draining activities?
- How much of your time is spent on energy-inducing activities?
- On a scale of 1-10. How satisifed are you with how you’re spending your time?
To succeed in a leadership role, taking a baseline measurement of how we’re spending time is important. Once we measure how our time is being spent, we can try to reallocate it better.
The wheel of life (Source: Coaches Training Institute) is a useful coaching exercise to help you gauge your level of satisfaction across different areas of your life.
Refill #2 – Prioritize by impact
Two types of tasks are constantly competing for your attention:
- Urgent tasks
- Important tasks
Important tasks have more impact than any other task. The only thing separating an urgent task from an important task is a “deadline”
Start plotting your tasks on a 2 X 2 to see where you’re spending your time.
- Quadrant 1 tasks are necessary and need to get done. Important and urgent
- Quadrant 2 tasks are long term planning and vision tasks. Important but not urgent.
- Quadrant 3 tasks are deceptive in nature. Urgent but not important.
- Quadrant 4 tasks are a waste of time. Not urgent and not important.
This exerise will help you audit your projects and prioritize them for maximum impact. The goal is to spend most of your time in Q1 and Q2.
Refill #3 – Practice saying “no”
Setting boundaries is an effective way of refilling our tank. Before accepting the next meeting invite, get curious about the agenda and whether you’re actually needed. Next time your boss throws a last-minute meeting on your calendar, try the A.P.I framework:
✅ Acknowledge the ask (Yellow)
✅ State your Position (Green)
✅ Ask for their input (Pink)
Setting clear boundaries will help you free up time on your calendar. It might be awkward at first, but with time and practice you’ll realize the benefits of boundaries.
The best advice I ever got was from my boss. He pulled me aside and said:
“Ali, the higher up you go, the more trade-offs you’ll have to make. There’s no other way out”.
I’ve never forgotten that lesson.
Remember If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.
What’s one way you’ll refill and recharge this season?