“I don’t have time.”
The number one reason busy executives say they don’t make it to the gym … practice mindfulness … prepare and eat healthful meals: too many forces competing for too few hours in a day. Time management is one skill rarely (if ever) taught in business school, yet it’s the one that could propel your company’s success, drive you career — and save your life. Literally.
While there is no exclusive membership to the crunched-for-time club, the sense that there is never enough time is pervasive among executives. Many leaders feel pulled in multiple directions, challenging their ability to focus and, often, impeding their ability to get things done.
As Jody Michael, CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates explains, “The consequences of saying ‘I don’t have time’ are not immediate, and often only become apparent after a serious wake-up call. “Many people are allured by immediate pleasures of the moment — which often outweigh the potential future cost of the pain.”
8 Executive Coaching Strategies to Regain Control of Your Time
There are 24 hours in every day. How can you make the most of them? One thing many people fail to realize is that how they spend their time is a choice. These strategies can help you choose wisely:
1. Clear all the clutter — An organized workspace facilitates clear thinking which, in turn, increases productivity. Every minute you spend looking for last week’s meeting notes is a minute lost. Gone. But clutter isn’t limited to piles of papers on your desk. “Non-productive thoughts and emotional stressors can wreak even more havoc on your ability to get things done,” according to Jody. Clearing the mental clutter allows you to think with greater focus and operate at a higher level of efficiency.
2. Wake up earlier — Maura Koutoujian, a career and life coach at Jody Michael Associates, has helped many clients modify their habits, and in the process, had a breakthrough of her own. By setting her alarm clock one hour earlier, she found that she could avoid the stress of the morning rush. As painful as it was at first, Maura says that her new habit has been overwhelmingly rewarding, allowing her “much more mindfulness and peace.” An extra hour can be the perfect answer to the “I don’t have time” dilemma — the ticket to finding solitude for thinking, planning or incorporating a mindfulness practice into your day.
3. Recognize “important” versus “urgent” — Prioritizing sounds so simple, yet most people do not make choices about how they spend their time in alignment with their values, according to Jody. “It’s so easy to be pulled away from the important things at work — and in life — by those deemed urgent.” Deadlines, interruptions and distractions often speak louder than our inner voices, pulling us off track. Accountability, the primary driver of personal and professional success, starts with keeping promises we make to ourselves. Jody says that by asking executive coaching clients, “What’s really important to you?,” insightful conversations emerge, facilitating the ability to make more prudent decisions and promoting a healthier work-life balance.
4. Hire someone — Your budget may not be conducive to supporting a personal staff, but you might get a bigger bang for your buck by paying someone to do your chores or run your errands than by taking the time to do them yourself. Peer-to-peer services like TaskRabbit and Zaarly can help you outsource a variety of jobs, from cutting the lawn to cleaning the house.
5. Shop online — Save yourself a trip to the grocery store; FreshDirect, Instacart and other online grocers will deliver to your door at your convenience. Amazon has become much more than a bookseller, offering everything from paper clips to outerwear, cosmetics and cat food. In order to compete with Amazon’s Prime service, many retailers have dropped shipping charges, especially if orders exceed a designated amount.
6. Read — Books that support your interests can enlighten, educate and motivate you in profound ways. Reading books that align with your purpose and goals can be one of the most prudent investments of time, gleaning long-lasting dividends. Our recently released e-book, The Top 20 Books for Succeeding in Life, Love and Career, lists Jody’s top selection of books that promote an emotionally healthy life, enhanced relationships and greater career success.
7. Create “best practices” — The 7-Minute Workout App, highlighted in the New York Times Wellness section, includes 12 exercises that you can do at home — in less time than it takes many people to choose their outfit for the day. Involving your own body weight, a chair and a wall, it can be a perfect way to squeeze a fitness routine into your busy day. “Chunking” is another strategy Jody recommends to executive coaching clients. “Designating blocks of time to focus on administrative tasks, meet with team members or respond to voice-mail messages and emails, for example, can significantly enhance your efficiency,” she says.
8. Seize the moment — Literally. Be present in each moment of your day, engaging without letting your mind wander to what comes next — or what transpired before it. Meetings, budgets, deadlines — in addition to personal commitments and responsibilities — will all compete for your attention. When internal and external factors interfere with your focus, remind yourself that you are the referee of your own thoughts.
What strategies have helped you “find” more hours in the day?