Prioritisation and focus

“Dear Coachplus …

I’m a high-performing Director in my early 40s with a strong track record.  My problem is that I find it increasingly hard to keep up with the high expectations people have of me.  I’m juggling projects which pull me in different directions, and have so many demands on my time that I can no longer be confident of delivering everything, or delivering well.  I worry that this will end up damaging my reputation and career prospects.”

Coachplus replies:

I get the impression you are highly driven to succeed.  Whether the situation you describe has crept up on you over time, or your circumstances have changed to bring about this sense of overload, I guess you are being driven by expectations and projects, rather than using your strengths and drive to achieve what is important.

Perhaps you find yourself trapped by the identity you have set for yourself as a high achiever: someone who is known for never failing to do it all.  I’m curious that with all the activities you are involved in, how you go about focusing and prioritising: what, in fact, you say ‘no’ to, or de-prioritise.  Presumably, when you review all the things you have to do, they are not all equally important to the business.  This is a good time to undertake such a review. 

You may also want to consider your ability to involve others, in order that what you delegate is effectively delivered and you can engage key individuals beyond the sphere of your authority to collaborate with you.

At times of overload, we often respond by working harder rather than smarter.  Pushing yourself harder may work in the short-term, but over time the quality of your work is likely to drop.  The stress is also likely to show up in your behaviour and, as a consequence, the way others perceive you.  In that case, however well you execute tasks, your leadership style will be in question.  Far better to take a step back to re-assess your priorities and how you want to meet them.


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