How come some people get so much done and others struggle to make the day’s priorities match up with the available hours?
We’ve identified three common causes, which we call “time leaks.”
You know the experience of focus: you’re immersed in what you’re doing, you look up after what feels like mere moments to discover that far more time has passed, AND you realize you’ve made monumental progress.
The time leak is lack of focus: getting coffee, chatting with colleagues, maybe even distracting yourself with Facebook or Twitter.
Become consciously aware of where your time is going, and you’ll find you can easily plug this time leak to create more focus in your day.
It’s great to be generous with your time and expertise, and we all want to be known as cooperative team players.
The time leak occurs when you’re over-generous: responding to every request and jumping in to help people even when it’s really not your job.
Recognize that you may not be doing others a service when you take on tasks that belong to them – and that they’d benefit from learning how to do themselves – and you’ll reclaim the time to complete your own tasks.
Ownership of what’s rightfully yours to do is important.
But sometimes overly-responsible people take on the weight of everyone else’s jobs as well.
This particular time leak can be challenging because of a common misconception about delegation: that it takes more time to explain something than to just do it yourself. And it’s true there may be some up-front time required to make sure everyone understands the desired end result and the best ways to get there. In the longer term, though, delegation will help you reap tremendous rewards of time for yourself and greater productivity for everyone.
Plugging your time leaks takes commitment, self-awareness, and personal honesty. But in the end, when you plug your time leaks you’ll have more time to do what’s enjoyable – without feeling stressed or guilty.
Recommended training resource: Kent, the hero of our video Time Challenged, has these three time leaks and then some. The program offers multiple ways to address time management issues and become more focused, personally responsible, organized, and attentive to what really matters in each moment.