As summer rolls in, consider taking stock of your work to be sure your routines and patterns still make sense. Are you spending your time and energy in ways that move you toward your goals? Or are there a few that aren’t serving you anymore, that you could shift?
Find a quiet day where you can get away from the office for an hour. Use that time to reflect on how you’ve been spending your time, and whether you’re making the best use of it.
Here are a few places to look:
Your Meeting Schedule & Agendas
Are your standing meetings still the right ones for the work that needs to get done? Are the agendas moving work forward in a useful way? This is one of the first routines I help clients consider – and we usually find opportunities to save time and effort.
There are a lot of managers who hold regular weekly meetings where the sole purpose is simply to update one another on their work. Unless those updates lead to conversations about integrating work across participants, they’re not worth valuable meeting time. You should be hearing things like, “Let’s make sure we work together on that,” or “Let’s look at our work plans to be sure they’re in synch,” or “My team did something similar last year, let’s get together and I’ll share what we learned.” If those types of conversations aren’t happening, consider shifting them to a written report instead. Or combine a brief written report with a brief meeting where the focus is on coordination and solving problems together.
For those meetings you decide to keep, consider reviewing their frequency. Different “meeting rhythms” are needed at different phases of a business or project. Early on, you may need to meet often to get the work off the ground and coordinate efforts. As the work goes on, you may be able to shift weekly meetings to biweekly, or biweekly to monthly.
Your To Do List
Managing your focus isn’t only about meetings. It’s also about making sure you’re spending your time on the work where you add the most value. Every once in a while, take a good hard look at all of the tasks you’ve taken on. Are they central to your role and to your ability to move ahead? Do they make good use of your skills and talents? If the answer to either of these is “not really,” then that’s another opportunity to make a change. You want to be putting your time and energy into work that will move you toward your goals — and eliminate or delegate the rest.
This is one of the exercises I walk my clients through over the course of our work together, and that I recommend they revisit at least once a year. If you do this now, with any luck you’ll free up a bit more flexibility over the summer. That benefits you and your team.
Following My Own Advice
I did this exercise myself recently and have decided to make some changes to free up my own time. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have noticed the pattern to these messages – videos live on Facebook on Tuesdays, sent out by email and posted to LinkedIn on Thursdays, and then in blog form on Mondays. It’s been a good routine that has gotten me into the habit of sharing what I know. And we’ve gotten a lot of great clients that way! I hope you’ve found these ideas useful in your own careers.
However, I’ve decided I want to make a shift. With summertime coming, and my son home from his first year of college, I want to loosen up the routine so we can spend more time together as a family. There are a few new projects in the works that I’m excited about, too. So, I’ve decided to post less often and with a bit more flexibility. I’m excited to continue to share as ideas occur to me and will post and blog when they do – but without the pressure of weekly deadlines.
My mission to help people have better lives at work hasn’t changed.
I’m still welcoming new clients and am excited to support them, whether that’s moving up in their current organization, finding a new job somewhere else, or building leadership skills to make the most of their current roles.
If you’re interested in getting help with your career and haven’t had a chance to talk with me or with someone on my team yet, I encourage you to do that. You can reach out to us at zmcoach.com/apply. Let’s have that conversation soon and get you on track so that you can have the focus and the career and the life balance that you want to have. We look forward to talking with you soon.