Managing Your OWN Workload As A Leader

by Mike O'Neill

Trying to be the best leader possible while handling the boss’s responsibilities is a balancing act that can feel nearly impossible. 

It may even feel like you have to choose between being a good leader and getting your work done. You won’t last long in your position if you’re consistently pushing off your own work, though.

We have a few tips and tricks for you to get your workload managed, saving you time and stress.

Sustainable Productivity

You first need to realize that working longer days and more hours doesn’t mean you’re managing a sustainable workload. Instead, you’re likely to make mistakes more often. You’ll need work redone - you’ll cause unneeded conflict and see a clear lack of innovation in the work that you’re doing.

You need to focus on doing things right and understanding that there is only so much you can do in one workweek. You need to make the brave choice in saying no and do more with less on your plate. 

Identify and Reduce “Phantom Workload”

To make sure you’re increasing a sustainable level of productivity, you need to make sure you’re cutting your phantom workload. 

Think about all the extra work you create when you take ineffective shortcuts. If you don’t clarify a mission before products go to launch, you may have saved time in the asking step but have inadvertently made more work for yourself in adding in information you forgot. 

You’re also at risk of upsetting your customers and wasting time solving problems over and over again that could have been solved before the issue ever came up.

Manage Your Time

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but there are tools you can use to manage your time better and get things done. 

The four main tools you should have in your metaphorical toolbox are guiding, strategizing, relating, and doing. 

  1. Guiding - means you need to establish a meaningful purpose. 
  2. Strategizing - means to define limited goals and accurately make time measurements.
  3. Relating - means making commitments and managing productive meetings.
  4. Doing - means to track your commitments and, of course, the ever-important email inbox.

By using these four areas and applying them to your life, you’ll find that you’ll be able to manage your time far better and get more done in the hours you can realistically work.

Make Behavioral Changes

To make effective change, you need to put in the time and the effort to do so. There are 7 steps that you can follow to make your changes permanent and make it so you can manage your workload easier and more realistically. 

  1. Know the purpose for your change.
  2. Create a vision.
  3. Take a realistic look at your current reality. 
  4. Choose support systems. 
  5. Identify strategies for time management.
  6. Take effective action.
  7. Go deeper.

While this might seem somewhat abstract, you can accurately use this guide to think about the journey that is your active change. You won’t be able to suddenly manage your time overnight, but these steps will give you the tools to do it better.

You Can’t Do It All

Being a leader means you want to do everything you can to support your business and your team. You take on all the responsibilities to get your projects done the way you imagine them, but unfortunately, that cannot be your reality if you want to manage your workload. 

You need to understand that you can’t do it all and seek out solutions that work. You can outsource some tasks to your employees. Are you struggling to get three small projects done at the same time as one large project? Outsource those small projects to members of your team who could use the extra responsibility. 

Not only are you saving yourself the stress of not meeting your quality goals, but you’re also making your employees feel valued.

Set Clear Expectations

You might want to do it all because you feel that you’re expecting that of yourself. Worse, you may worry others expect that of you. A lack of clear expectations is stressful for both you and your employees. 

Early on, set expectations for yourself and your team. Make sure everybody knows what you’re trying to achieve, what role everyone plays, and what rules they must follow. Setting these expectations will prevent you from getting overworked in many cases. 

Try using tools like living documents to track progress on projects so that your team can ask for help or support. Even better, you can tag experts amongst your employees for their help on tasks as well.

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