What’s For Breakfast?
‘I spend so much time in meetings that I do not have time to get my work done.’
This is a phrase I often hear from my coaching clients. Research shows that indeed, much time is spent in meetings, as much as 35% per week on average for middle managers and up to 50% per week for higher level leaders. It is quite possible the numbers are even higher depending on where you work.
Adding to the challenge is that the day is often broken up by those meetings. As a result, there are not enough stretches of uninterrupted time to do the deep focus work required to move the important balls forward. Cue in the collective “sigh.”
And without a major cultural revolution, this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
What to Do?
If ‘getting work done’ is the goal, and finding deep focus time is the holy grail, resorting to the recipe for insanity is not likely the best answer. (Recall insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.)
Whatever is one to do then?
Survey says…fewer meetings! And yes, being more choosey about which meetings to schedule and attend is indeed a good practice to employ if you have not already done so.
Others may say more productive meetings. Yes, please! If they are your meetings, there is much written about how to ensure your meetings are as productive and valuable as than can be for all participants. If they are not your meetings, you may of course, try positively influencing the meeting owner to make them so. Perhaps you already do this too.
And you have likely tried other various tools and techniques along the way. After all, there is an entire industry geared toward productivity. The key is to find something that works for you.
Start with Breakfast
I offer something to consider if you have not already. But first, a question: ‘What do you eat for breakfast?’
For many, it is email. It is the first thing we do in the morning. We fire up the email and start processing away. And before we know it, we have consumed what might have otherwise been some precious deep focus time. Email is like a syrupy pancake with whipped cream and a cherry on top. For those who like checkmarks, email is an easy way to get some quick checks first thing in your day. Or maybe for you it is scouring the news channels or social media. We feel like we are making progress without even expending much brainpower or energy.
A tip I learned somewhere along the way is to eat my veggies for breakfast. While certainly less tasty than a sugar-laden pancake, few would argue that veggies are indeed better for long-term health. Following with our analogy then, a veggie represents the next step towards fulfilling an important goal.
A head of cauliflower might be developing a 5-year strategy. Each floret then represents each next step towards completing that strategy. And each slice of cucumber might represent each next step toward completing a business expansion proposal.
The key is to keep focused on the next steps, the florets and slices, for each important goal. The technique is to intentionally plan to tackle these next steps at the start of your day when your energy is highest and before you jump into the flurry of meetings for the day.
What if you ate just one veggie for breakfast every day of the work week? By the end of the week, you will have moved five steps forward, five more than you would have otherwise. Eventually, you may work up to three veggies a day or more and see the progress on your goals accelerating.
Wrapping it Up
In addition to maximizing the value of those meetings, consider choosing to eat some of those veggies at the start of your day. As a result, you might just feel more accomplished with less anxiety, and more present and engaged in those meetings you do choose to attend.
So, what will you eat for breakfast tomorrow?
Passionate about growing amazing leaders who create great places to work and lead fulfilling lives, Angela enables transformational change in individuals, teams, and businesses. As a Certified Professional Coach, she is skilled at combining sound coaching skills with proven leadership methodologies to cultivate growth and ultimately, results.