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Why more responsibility doesn’t have to mean more work.

Have you been thinking you’re ready to step up to the next level of leadership but are holding back because you fear the extra workload?

Many mid-career women I speak to feel that accepting a growing workload and being willing to work long hours is the price they must pay to be considered for promotion.

There’s no doubt that the more senior you become – the more responsibility you take on.  The decisions get bigger.  The budgets get bigger.  The problems get bigger.

But it doesn’t necessarily mean your workload gets bigger.

Yes. That’s right!  A more senior role doesn’t have to lead to long hours, burnout and exhaustion.

So, how do you get results and stay on top of everything you are responsible for if you don’t work harder and longer hours?

It’s all about working smarter – not harder!

What needs to change is the way you work.

Take Jacinta, for example.  She knew that the way she was working was not sustainable.  She loved her work but not the long hours and the way it was impacting her health and intruding on her family time. 

She recognised she was giving a lot of herself to her organisation while neglecting her personal wellbeing. She knew she was ready to progress to the next level of leadership, but not if it meant working even harder than she already was.

Through her participation in Ignite (our online group coaching program for mid-career women) Jacinta began implementing a range of simple tips, tools and strategies that allowed her to achieve more with less effort.

She developed new habits, shifted where she was focusing her time and energy and…. most importantly, stopped working weekends!

Here are 4 strategies for leveraging your time and effort:

1. Focus on what matters most.

Start by identifying those activities and task that matter most to you, your team and the organisation.  Not all tasks are created equal and some will have a bigger impact than others.  Make sure you are focusing your time and attention on those activities that are business critical.  It’s amazing how much time and energy we can waste working on tasks with little impact. 

2. Progress over perfection.

Keeping projects moving forward matters more than making something perfect. Think about how much time you can spend making something perfect – but does it really matter and does anyone ever notice? With the odd exception, like board reports, KPI reporting and statistical analysis –  I’d suggest your 8/10 will be good enough!

3. Time blocking.

You may think you are a wiz at multi-tasking but this habit is not serving you well. Our brain is not wired to jump from task to task.  It slows us down, restricts critical thinking and promotes fatigue.

Try blocking out time in your calendar to dedicate to particular types of work.  Jacinta now has a number of 90 minute time slots in her calendar that are reserved for work that requires strategic or creative thinking.  This one strategy has helped her to fast track progress on a number of business critical projects.

4. Think who, not how.

This is a strategy I learnt from my own mentor and I love it!  We are not great at everything… and we don’t have to be.  Rather than trying to work out how to do something – think about who already has the skill and engage them in making it happen. This might mean asking for advice, outsourcing the project to an expert, or delegating the task to someone in your team.

So, if you are ready to step up to the next level of leadership, don’t fear the pace and volume of work.  Instead, commit to shifting the way you work to allow you to manage the increased responsibility without working harder or longer hours.

Good luck!

 

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