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Managing priorities is more important than managing time
Managing priorities is more important than managing time

Happier and more productive leadership

Scaling up a business can take its toll on one’s wellbeing. In part one of this two-part series, DOUG FLEENER details how to change mindset and management practices to beat stress and improve outcomes.

Over the years, I’ve worked with various stressed-out owners and managers. Usually they are smart and dedicated people who couldn’t work any harder if they tried but they always feel like they’re getting less done and falling further behind.

Does this sound familiar?

Chances are there was a time you felt you had everything under control. It almost seemed as if your store or company was on autopilot. For some people, this may not have been too long ago – while for others it may be a distant memory.

Everything was all good... and then something changed. You added more lines, more stores, more employees or perhaps fewer employees; your social-media exploded; your foot traffic fell away or increased and so on.

Change is the one constant in business.

Change is rarely the result of a single event; it’s instead an evolution driven by alterations in technology, buying behaviour, competition and countless other external and internal forces.

So, are all of these changes the reason things no longer feel in control?

Not really. It’s not the evolution of your business that causes you to feel stressed and overwhelmed; it’s the lack of evolution in the way you work.

You can’t run a four-store chain the way you ran a single store

You can’t manage a business that has an revenue of $2.5 million in the same way you ran a store with only $500,000 revenue. Also, you can’t run your business like you did three years ago.

Too much has changed and if you’re feeling overwhelmed then there’s a good chance that you haven’t changed with it. The good news is that you can jumpstart that evolution right now.

Four ways to change

Let’s look at four key areas that can help you be a more productive and happier leader.

"It is nearly impossible to get everything done in this always-on, always-wired, 24/7 world – I always joke that I became more successful when I started keeping a ‘to-don’t’ list"

Accept that your work will rarely be done – Let’s agree that it is nearly impossible to get everything done in this always-on, always-wired, 24/7 world. I always joke that I became more successful when I started keeping a ‘to-don’t’ list instead of a ‘to-do’ list.

At the end of the day, we just have to accept that some things will have to carry over to be done at another time or maybe they’ll never get done at all.

Time management is neither the problem nor the solution – Unless you’ve got a time machine in your office, just take time management off the table.

Of course, if you do have a time machine, please let me know because I have a few things that happened in my twenties that I’d like to go back and change... but I digress.

There can be no blaming a lack of time for being overwhelmed. We all have the same number of hours in a day.

What you have to manage is not time, but priorities – It’s about making the right choices regarding where you focus your energy and effort. Managers can make two mistakes when it comes to this.

The first is doing what they want to do, not what they need to do. It’s human nature to gravitate to the things we like or do well and sometimes these are aligned with our priorities, but sometimes they’re not.

The second is letting employees and outside forces dictate priorities.

This happens more than people realise. Leaders have to manage priorities like a full-back holds on to a football.

It doesn’t mean you’re not available when needed but you should be the one who decides when something else should take precedence over your priorities.

Delegating isn’t enough – Although most managers and owners could increase delegation to their staff, this is not the cure-all that most people think it is.

I can’t tell you how many times an owner or manager has told me he or she needs to delegate more, which always makes me think, ‘So do it!’

I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to distribute some of the tasks you’re doing that are keeping you from your priorities but the biggest reason to delegate is to have more engaged staff.

It really isn’t going to have much impact on your own levels of stress.

There’s a fifth critical element I’ll explore next month. In the meantime, think about the actions you can take now that will result in a more productive and happier you.

Doug Fleener

Contributor • Sixth Star Consulting

Doug Fleener is the author of a new book titled The Day Makes The Year (Makes The Life). Learn more:

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