The other day, I was reminded that our lives as leaders can be pretty complex and complicated. The more accomplishments you have as a leader, the more people want to spend time with you essentially helping them fix their problems.
For some of us, this can be rewarding…until the realization hits: other people’s agendas are getting in the way of commitments we have made. This post isn’t some new twist on time management – it is about having less stress and clutter in your life as a leader (and as a person). If you could benefit from being less stressed, read on. (If you don’t think you can benefit, please take some time to let me know how you do it so I can share your wisdom with others!)
We live in times when our attention and focus are in high demand – we either seize any and all opportunities that come our way or someone else will take the chances given to us. Technology was supposed to make our lives easier and allow us to be more productive. While some of this is true, many of us have become more addicted to our smart phones than we’d ever imagined would happen. (As an aside, who does the “smart” refer to – the person or the phone?)
How then can we simplify life? Consider the following 4 ways:
- Know there is a limit to your time. Simplifying is not just about knowing there are only 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week – it is about knowing our days are also numbered. Even the healthiest among us have a limited number of days. If you really know your purpose in life, are you using the time you have left in an intentional way to live out that purpose? If you don’t control your time, someone else most certainly will.
- Busy doesn’t always mean productive. We all know people who always seem busy. The question is, “Are they getting anything of real value accomplished?” If we are too busy to take a phone call from our spouse or one of our kids, we might have a bigger problem. What does “being productive” mean to you? Activity or real results? Results connected to our purpose are greatly satisfying, wouldn’t you agree?
- Keep it simple in all areas of your life. I once had a boss who told me, “No one is going to take better care of Bill than Bill” and he was right. If I am leading myself well, I am the best person to control how I spend my time and with whom I spend my time. We need to set boundaries on our time and clearly communicate those boundaries to those who can help us, such as our Executive Assistants or others who have access to our calendars.
- Live out your top priorities every day.Does your regular practice ensure you are able to advance your top 2-3 priorities in life? Does your daily schedule reflect this? Could a stranger correctly identify your top 2-3 priorities based on observing you for a few hours or a whole day?
While all this might be well and good, sometimes we need to know how some of these changes will really impact our lives. With that in mind, let me provide a few beneficial outcomes of these practices. After all, this is where the rubber meets the road.
With a simplified life, we would likely experience:
- Less stress, better sleep and healthier minds and bodies
- More focus on fewer priorities always equals greater results
- More margin in our time to selectively choose how to spend it, such as improving relationships with those closest to us or being able to mentor someone
- More freedom with our finances because we are living our purpose and not someone else’s
- More time to actually think creatively, rather than just react to the next emergency
The list can go on and on. The point is, if you are not experiencing some of these benefits and would like to change, go back and identify which of the four points I discussed might be missing from your current routine.
And just to set the record straight, I don’t have it all together; I don’t currently enjoy all the benefits I mentioned above and I know I need to practice some of the four points more faithfully. Who would like to join me on the journey? It will be a fun ride.