But, There IS Enough Time
How you get hooked (1:10)
In real time (2:10)
The trouble with a free-range brain (5:10)
BUT, THERE IS ENOUGH TIME
Today we’re going to talk about how not to get stumped when someone says to you:
“I’m so overwhelmed; I just don’t have enough time!”
I hear it so often.
Managers tell me that sometimes when they try to hold their staff accountable for missed deadlines or dropped projects or goals that didn’t get fulfilled, they feel helpless because what they hear is, “I’m so overwhelmed. I don’t have enough time,” but what they observe is: there is enough time, it just isn’t being spent wisely.
HOW YOU GET HOOKED
“I didn’t get it done because I’m overwhelmed, and there isn’t enough time in the day for everything that’s on my plate.” The impact on you, as the person who is trying to hold another accountable, is helplessness. I mean, think about it. How do you respond to that statement?
It may not be intentional, but what the staff person just did was render you helpless, because, no, you cannot manufacture more time for them.
Now that you see what’s going on in this dialogue, isn’t it kinda brilliant? It works like a charm. I know it does, because then you call me, throwing your hands up in the air, shrugging your shoulders, and saying, “Beth! Help me! How can I do anything when the problem is there isn’t enough time?”
IN REAL TIME
But here’s the reality. It’s just like I tell my daughters when they say they can’t afford something. I ask them, “Is it that you can’t afford it, or is it that that’s not how you’re going to choose to prioritize spending the money you have?”
It’s a completely different scenario, one in which my daughters are empowered around their money, not victimized by a lack of it.
So let’s start getting your staff – and you – to have the same kind of empowerment around prioritizing and spending time versus being victim to a perceived scarcity of it.
It looks something like this—
You: Hey, that project was supposed to be to me by Friday. It’s Monday afternoon, and I still don’t have it.
Staff person: Ugh! I’m so overwhelmed. I just don’t have enough time for everything on my plate. I can’t possibly get everything done.
So, what you do is take a breath, ground your feet on the floor, and get curious—
You: Oh? So tell me: What did you prioritize instead of this project?
Staff person: Huh??
You: No, really. I want to know. You see, I can’t provide you with more time, but you can choose how you spend the time that’s available to you.
Yes, the first time you try this – the first time you choose to avoid getting hooked by “there’s not enough time” and turn it around into a curious inquiry – it’s going to be uncomfortable for everyone. But soon, they’re going to recognize that budgeting and prioritizing time is something that they’re empowered to manage and control.
The first time I asked myself this question, I was a little befuddled, too. But now, I frequently ask myself the question—
“What am I prioritizing instead of the tasks that I most need to get done?”
THE TROUBLE WITH A FREE-RANGE BRAIN
You see, our brain has a preference about how we use our time, and when we allow our brains to be free-range – picking and choosing what we do first, what we do last, and what we put off until later – it doesn’t necessarily spend our time wisely.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
You have a looming deadline, but the task is complex and new. You don’t know where to start, so you keep pushing it off until tomorrow … and tomorrow … and then, again, tomorrow.
Instead of doing that project, you shift to a repetitive task, saying, “I’ll just see if I have a new email” or “I’ll check in on Facebook, just for a second,” and then find a half hour has passed, and then an hour has passed, and pretty soon, the day is done.
You fool yourself into thinking that multitasking is much more efficient than blocking time and diving full-on into one task at a time.
(The truth is you lose efficiency and concentration every time your brain has to switch back and forth among tasks, and what you end up with is a false start on two or more projects.)
You find yourself “waiting for a better time” to do the tasks you fear may cause bad feelings or conflict. (That’s why performance evaluations keep getting pushed back and pushed back and pushed back.)
Instead of giving tough feedback on a project that wasn’t done well, you do it over yourself; it’s just so much easier! (But is that time well spent?)
Everyone else’s challenge or crisis is so much more interesting than the mundane project you need to get done, so time-sucking interruptions and drama become welcome at your doorstep.
If any of these sound familiar to you, then maybe it really is time to become empowered about how you spend your most valuable resource – time.
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