Summer is over and the school year is off to another quick start. If you’re in leadership, you understand that time off never truly feels like a break. The thought of the never-ending to-do list is long enough that it will never be finished in a single sit-in, yet short enough for you to believe that if you worked just two more hours during your vacation that you might just be able to conquer all the tasks necessary. As you settle into the beginning of the school year, here are three tips that have helped me stay centered and remain effective.
1. Remember that when everything is a priority, nothing becomes a priority.
I often felt a greater sense of gratification setting three big goals and accomplishing those over the course of the year than having 10+ medium or small sized goals and not getting through them all. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what they should be, ask yourself: what are the two or three things that, if they happen, would make me feel successful, make my teachers feel like I was successful and make my boss think I was successful?
2. Get in a values-based routine.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “how do you avoid burning out?” My response is always the same: I know I’m doing the things that are important to me 80% or more of my days. I know when I’m waking up, I know when I’m going to work out, I know when I’m seeing my friends, I know when I’m seeing my family and I know that I’m doing the things that are important to me and matter. Of course, this starts with a clear understanding of your values. Once you have those outlined, then start to plan the activities and the events that you need to ensure that your time is being spent in alignment with those values. Once you have that together, reflect on whether the routine you have outlined is positioned to help you succeed.
3. Don’t do it alone.
Success is almost never reached in a silo. So much of our ability to achieve what we want is going to be dictated by the people around us. In my case, it has always been the people around me that have energized me to do more or detracted from my focus and prevented me from achieving the outcomes that were most important. Picking thoughtful partners, colleagues and friends who are waiting to support you is essential. Remember, even the “most successful” people have tough days. Who will be there for you and who will you be there for to ensure you succeed?
Leadership is far more of an art than it is a science. However, there are time-tested, proven actions we can take to make our lives just a little bit simpler.