Do you aim at “managing your time” every day only to end up just getting immersed in the very mundane matters and too depleted to tap into the tasks that could define you as a leader? 

You’re probably working hard yet not smart enough.

Here is the unvarnished truth: We all got the time. We don’t have the energy all the time. 

By observing and working closely with high performing leaders over years, here is what I know about “working smart”

  • Managing your time alone isn’t smart. Managing your energy is. Just because some people belong to the 5am club and finish their main work by 10 am doesn’t mean that this applies to you. High performing leaders recognize the time when they know they’re productive the most and block it nonnegotiably for the tasks that matter. No emails and no calls would interrupt that. Tasks that matter less don’t need the magnum opus of your energy and can be accomplished when you have more time and less energy.
  • Doing the same tasks over and over without re-assessing them isn’t smart, doing regular inventory of those tasks is. High performing leaders identify the tasks that are immensely energy draining even if they are not time consuming. They either revamp their process or consciously choose to relinquish them totally by delegating them to a member of the team who doesn’t find them as energy draining as they do.
  • Micromanagement isn’t smart but rolling your sleeves up and plunging many levels down to attend to a fiasco is. Hands on keeps your hands tight.
  • Perfection isn’t smart, good enough is. High performing leaders distinguish between perfection being a limiting belief or a capability and ambition to do better. For instance, submitting a good enough proposal on time is better than no submission at all. Perfection can always follow, and it will be a more relevant perfection after a client’s feedback.  This is one of the reasons why startups permeate their ways to big wins. Also isn’t almost every new iPhone flawed in at least one aspect, yet we prefer a good enough new smart phone with new features over a perfect one that needs forever to be released.
  • Readiness isn’t smart, starting any way is. Whoever really feels ready for a big thing? Even when you have honed your work, chances are you will never feel ready. High performing leaders feel ready only as soon as they start.
  • Hoping on every and any project that comes your way isn’t smart, knowing where you can add value is. High performing leaders know their forte and are selective in the tasks they perform.
  • Doing it all alone all the time isn’t smart, asking for help is. Understaffed? Acquire new talents. Mediocrely staffed? Replace. Overloaded? Delegate even if you believe they won’t perfect it as you do (remember the perfection myth above?). 
  • Sticking rigidly to a plan isn’t smart, being agile and malleable is. High performing leaders set major goals and remain acutely aware that mini goals aren’t written in stones. Unless they are adopting the very same procedure that is tested and approved, they keep their error margin realistic. Getting derailed is fine. In fact, detours take you to places you never thought you’ll be should you have stuck to the plan.
  • Indecisiveness isn’t smart, deciding right on time is. A bad decision is better than a no decision. High performing leaders mitigate the risk as fast as they can, decide imperfectly, move swiftly, and readjust whenever needed.
  • Being solely fixated on beating the competition isn’t smart, standing out creatively is. High performing leaders who are fixated on counter attacking the competition lose on the long term. Competition is crowded and fragmented. Check new needs or perhaps create them. Who had ever thought that having your car fuel tank topped at your doorstep is nearly a need?
  • Procrastinating isn’t smart, buckling down and doing the work is. Hold on, procrastination is a way more complex than that and it will be my topic coming up soon