I’ve had it. There are so many articles and blogs on time management, stress management, making meetings more productive. It’s making me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad strategies. The problem is that they don’t get to the underlying problem. Today we’ll look at what’s really going on, and what you can do about it.

I’m declaring war on time management. I’ve had it. I’ve talked to so many people who are trying to get a handle on overwhelm. They have more on their plates than anyone could possibly do in a day or a given week. So they’re doing best they can – trying to solve that problem by looking for new ways to organize their to do lists, or new ways to manage their calendars, or new ways to run meetings so that they’ll be more efficient.

There’s nothing wrong with those strategies, but the reality is that they don’t get at the underlying problem. At the heart of the overwhelm that so many people are feeling right now is the challenge of making decision in the face of uncertainty.

Over the past year we’ve faced immense uncertainty in the world. Between the COVID pandemic and various political situations, business leaders have had a very difficult time making the kinds of predictions that usually guide their decision-making. The result has been massive confusion and a huge amount of overworking.

Overworking is a common response to uncertainty. It’s when you do way more than is necessary because you don’t understand what’s required. I used to see it in my consulting work. When we weren’t sure exactly what was happening with a client, or what they wanted from us, the tendency on the team was to overwork, feeling like we had to produce options for the client to meet any possible scenario. It was exhausting.

I see that same thing happening now on a global scale.

Look it’s important to be prepared for the future. It’s important to think through potential scenarios and be ready for them. It’s useful to be in motion, trying out new ideas, so that you can face new challenges. I get it.

But if you’re to be truly prepared for the future, you can’t go into it completely worn out.

Whether we’re talking about you managing yourself right now, or you managing a team, one of the most important things you can do as a leader right now is to get really clear about your purpose – what you or your team or division or organization stands for, and how you add value, and then put your focus on those thing.

When you’re working on purpose, you have a clear understanding of what success will look like and of the levers you need to move to get there. You know what matters, and what doesn’t, and you set priorities accordingly. You make choices. You say “no” to the activities that would pull you off course. You put your time and resources (and your team members time and resources) against the activities that are most likely to move you forward.

Is it hard to tell what those are sometimes? Of course. That is one of the biggest challenges you face as a leader. But it’s also at the heart of the role.

Want to learn more about how you can be working on purpose? Watch my free webinar, The 5-Step Strategy Smart Execs Use to Become Great Leaders, and Jump on the Fast-Track to Promotions

If you’ve already watched it and you’d like to talk, feel free to schedule a call with me, so we can strategize how to get you out of overwhelm.

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