Leaders become overwhelmed with clutter from time to time. I’ve often referred to the space debris of our minds. NASA says there’s something like 19,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters out there. Just like your head–and the heads of many of the leaders in your organization. How can we clear the stuff so we can start thinking and acting more clearly and efficiently? Here’s a simple but incredibly helpful tool which I use to coach leaders who have too much to do. Get a sheet of paper (or, go ahead, open a document on your computer). You’ll need four columns.
First, write down all the stuff you’re doing. Take a while to do this, maybe over the course of several days–or maybe on a retreat day. Keep populating that column. What are you doing? What are you responsible for? Put it all out there. Dozens of items…maybe hundreds of items.
Now move everything you can wisely delegate from the first column into the second column. Who can take these items? Who can you be developing? What new job descriptions emerge?
This column is nearly self-explanatory. Many of the items from column 1 can be destroyed–they don’t need to be done anymore. They are unnecessary or irrelevant. Honestly, much of what you do doesn’t contribute to your effectiveness, the effectiveness of the organization, or your general well-being. Move those things to this column and put them to bed.
This is what’s left in column 1–the things that you will now primarily deliver. It’s where your focus should be. And, it will now give you some margin to experiment and see what else you can wisely add.
There you go! Exhale.