Research Backed Approaches to Leadership and Team Dynamics with Dr. Will Ramey, The Leadership Dr.
Understanding and mastering time management can have big benefits such as lower stress, executing impactful work, and being able to give more of yourself to your team. I share my personal breaking point that led me to learn the research about time interpretation and how to apply it to my workday. Let’s jump in!
In 2016 I was working in one of the most demanding leadership positions I’ve ever held. It wasn’t the complexity; I enjoy challenges. It wasn’t the level of responsibility; I’ve led teams in combat being responsible for lives of Soldiers.
I had just joined the Senior Leadership Team working in the top tier of a three-tiered organizational structure and was responsible for a team of 300+ people. We were responsible for customer expectation management and production planning for $500M+ revenue generating business.
What got to me were the demands on my time. I moved up a level in the organizational hierarchy and put high performance expectations on myself. This drove me to shift how I approached managing my time.
I wanted to prove that I deserved to be leading at this level and exceed all expectations of my boss and my colleagues. I wanted to be the best leader possible for my team. Needless to say, the “40 hour” week was an illusion. Getting to work early and staying late became the norm. I gave my time to my team as best I could. I pushed off taking care of my individual responsibilities to lunch breaks, or end of shift, or the early morning hours. I’m a high achiever. I wasn’t afraid of the long hours or the complex challenges that came with the job. Then – I hit the wall!
Bad Habits Creep In
With the technology today, I found myself building some bad habits. I’d check my email right before going to sleep. This led to tossing and turning most nights. Checking my email from my smartphone in my driveway before I walked inside was another bad habit. What started as reading in the driveway inevitably led to me checking my email walking into the kitchen while greeting my family. Trying to multi-task by reading email and hearing about my kids’ day at school was a failure. It was sending out so many horrible signals de-prioritizing my family.
After standing in my kitchen for 10 minutes and reading my emails one night I was asked “Are you home yet?”. Feeling frustrated and oblivious I snapped, “I’ve been home for at least 10 minutes.” To which I was met with a unanimous, “Have you though?!” It hit like a ton of bricks. The phone got put inside the drawer so it wouldn’t be a distraction anymore that night. I got the message loud and clear. Work was creeping into my home and NOT in a good way. I was not getting restful sleep. I was carrying a work-mode mindset into my home life and couldn’t shut it off. Boundaries needed set quickly.
What example was I setting for the junior leaders in my team? I tell my team all the time, family comes first. Prioritize time with friends and family. I needed to change, and it started with learning more about time at work. I needed to reclaim control of my time at work.
The Science of Time Interpretation
There is science behind the objective and subjective interpretation of time at work. Researcher Dr. Abbie Shipp focuses on the psychological experience of time at work. One of the concepts she brings to light is how the objective and subjective interpretation of time is intertwined. Team leaders, especially new leaders want to be efficient.
We use our calendars to drive our day. Meetings are set in 30- or 60-minute increments. Deadlines at placed at the end of the week or the month. The workday starts at 8am and ends at 5pm. Our lunch break is 30 minutes at noon. We move from task to task to task. The subjective interpretation teaches us to look at the meaning of how we spend time and to be event focused. This is the secret… knowing the difference between subjective and objective measures of time.
Reclaiming Control of your Time
1. I took a step back to view not just what I needed to complete during my day but what was important to me about it. What did a successful day/week/month look like and feel like. I developed an opening and closing routine for my day to set boundaries and feel the start and end of a successful day.
2. I took a deep dive into deadlines so that I can meet the expectations and feel synchronized with my team. This also allowed me the opportunity to give my team members more autonomy and opportunity to own tasks.
3. I made my workload visible to see what was in process and what was accomplished to celebrate the wins with my team.
4. I took intentional time to refresh when it felt right vs when the clock said I should be breaking.
I felt better about what I was accomplishing and… had more time to spend with my team. I was refreshed and capable of crushing it without the feeling of being rundown by the end of the day or week. Best of all, because I understood the importance of where my time was going and what I was accomplishing I could shut off and leave work at work.
There is much more to the story on how I did this. In my upcoming articles I will share with you three approaches proven to help you reclaim your time and shed the stress of stepping into that team leader position.
Interested in learning how to reclaim control of your time and feel less stressed when you look at your calendar? Check out my course: Prioritize and Execute to Focus on Meaningful Work by Dr. Will Ramey (maven.com)
Reach out to connect on LinkedIn Dr. William Ramey | LinkedIn
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