Danielle Harlan, PhD, is the author of THE NEW ALPHA: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who Are Redefining Leadership.
While the New Alpha approach to leadership is all about giving you the strategies and resources that you need to achieve your goals, cultivate fulfillment, and make the impact that only you can make in this world, it’s also true that, at one point or another, you’re bound to experience the overwhelm that comes with having more work on your plate than you can realistically expect to accomplish.
As a leader and leadership coach, I’ve seen thousands of busy professionals grapple with exactly this issue and here are three key lessons that I’ve learned from those who do it well:
Stanford professor, Jennifer Aaker defines multipliers as single activities that fulfill multiple goals. For example, do you love reading and running? Consider listening to audiobooks on your next run. Need to attend a professional event and mentor a new colleague? Invite her to attend the event with you. Take a look at your activities for the day or week ahead—which items can you combine to save time and effort?
Employing routines, or sequences of actions or steps that we follow regularly, allows us to put the simple decisions in our lives on auto-pilot, which frees up our critical thinking skills for more important decisions. For example, I know a busy executive who used to lament about the amount of time that he spent trying to figure out what to make for dinner each night. Eventually, he came up with a regular schedule of meals, which he simply repeated every Monday through Friday, saving him hours of time each week.
Take Regular Breaks
For many high performing people, the idea of taking a break seems counterintuitive, however, research shows otherwise. In fact, most people’s energy begins to wane after about 90 minutes of an activity, but even a short break of 10-15 minutes can help you to “refuel” and regain the energy that you need to dig back in.
For most of us, there’s often more work do be done than there are hours in the day; however, by identifying multipliers, using routines, and taking regular breaks, we can optimize our efficiency and focus our energy on the activities the activities that matter most.