Recently, my colleague Melissa Shahbazian and I led a leadership development workshop for more than 100 communications executives from across the country. We talked about current tensions in the workplace and shared best practices to help resolve them.
One theme that emerged loud and clear is that many of us would like to create more time in our lives for the things that matter and that we enjoy—personally and professionally.
But, when there are so many things to tackle on our everyday to-do lists, how do we carve out the time to reflect on, and immerse ourselves in, the things that really are important? What if we could make a few simple adjustments that would free up, say, 20% of our time and energy to focus on key priorities?
What if, instead of trying to “do it all” out of FOMO (fear of missing out), we instead embraced JOMO: the joy of missing out.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Practicing JOMO doesn’t mean dropping out of the workforce or becoming a hermit. It means being mindful of the way that you do your work and the way that you approach your priorities and commitments. Creating space in your day to think about where you want and need to focus your attention is crucial, particularly when it comes to long-term planning, strategy development, thought leadership and building relationships.
Here are three concepts that, if employed, can help leaders gain back time to concentrate on the important stuff.
1. Results vs. attendance
If you’ve ever read Patrick Lencioni’s “Death by Meeting”—a great book for leaders who want to eliminate team frustration and create environments of engagement and passion—you are familiar with the meetings paradox. Attending meeting after meeting, virtually or in person, creates an environment where people work overtime to complete the deliverables assigned in the meetings and catch up on everything they didn’t get to because they’ve been in meetings.
Meetings tend to beget more meetings. And most meetings are longer than they need to be and far less productive. How can leaders break the cycle?
Ask yourself: Do you really need to attend every meeting? Can you send a representative from your team who you know will embrace the opportunity and will send a topline briefing to you afterward? It’s a great way to free up your schedule and give your top performers some additional face time with leaders.
2. Addition by subtraction.
Yes, you really can accomplish more by doing less. Clear your schedule for the important stuff and trust your team to cover the lower-stakes projects. Think of it as the Marie Kondo method of management!
Making space in your day for thought leadership and strategy and removing the projects that don’t light you up can be a very powerful change. Just think how much happier, more productive and clear-headed you would be if you built time for yourself into the workday.
Ask yourself: Where can I make space in my day for what matters most to me and to the organization? The best leaders are discerning about what they take on and what they outsource to others.
3. Set firm boundaries.
Healthy boundaries at work are important. So is managing your internal and external stakeholders’ expectations. By saying “no” to meetings and projects that can be done by others on your team, you can then say “yes” to the more important things on your plate.
Clear communication about what you can and can’t do in a firm yet amicable way will take you farther than saying yes to everything and then feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and resentful.
Ask yourself: Where and what can you say “no” to in order to say “yes” to more important things?
Remember, being busy is not a badge of honor. Making time to be truly present for what matters is. If used regularly, these tactics will help you gain more time to lead with intention, focus on the factors that move the needle, and invest in your own growth and happiness.
Mary Olson-Menzel is the founder and CEO of MVP Executive Search & Coaching, and co-founder of Spark Insight Coaching. www.mvpexec.com