The weight of leadership can be great. Voltaire said it well: With great power, comes great responsibility.
Leaders are burdened with many worries — taking care of their people, monitoring bottom lines, beating competitors to market, managing daily task and handling emergencies, all while planning for the future. Not addressing the weight these worries bring can lead to serious work-related stress and may even create or exacerbate anxiety and/or depression, all of which, ignored, can negatively affect productivity, team morale and the overall health of a company.
Workplace stress also goes beyond the boardroom and finds its way into everyday business across the org chart. Project deadlines, interpersonal team dynamics and high workloads are just a few examples that cause stress for a team. Add in a global pandemic, historically high interest rates and one of the most volatile economic situations young people, in particular, have faced in recent years, and teams are feeling stress like never before.
That said, our world is also becoming more comfortable discussing and prioritizing mental health in the workplace, which is a good thing because people who are happy at work tend to be more productive. And good habits are contagious. If leaders demonstrate self-care, they set an example for their teams, helping them manage stress and ultimately increasing productivity. It’s a win-win situation.
I’ve implemented my own habits that help me manage and convert “stress energy” into high functionality. These habits are transferable across the team and can assist with prioritizing time-sensitive and urgent tasks. Following the guidelines below can reduce stress and create better overall leaders.
‘Time block’ to complete tasks
A well-referenced time management tool includes creating blocks of time in your calendar and assigning those to accomplish tasks on your to-do list. At the end of each week, I review what I need to get done the following week, take stock of the meetings scheduled and block out periods of time dedicated to accomplishing tasks within unbooked time.
For this to work, you have to be realistic about what you can accomplish in a certain amount of time, and you have to stick to reserving that time to complete your tasks.
Set aside no-meeting days (and stick to them)
It’s OK if a suggested meeting time doesn’t work for you; suggest another time. I have started time-blocking Mondays and Fridays as no-meeting days. If someone suggests a meeting on these days, I work hard to find an alternative that works better for me.
Because I’ve set aside both days, I give myself some flexibility to schedule must-attend meetings on these days if necessary. But I try to reserve these days to accomplish important tasks, plan ahead and use PTO if needed or wanted.
Find (and use) a planning tool that works for you
There are many tools available to help you manage time, projects, schedules and workflow. If you don’t use a planning tool, start exploring options. Find something you know you will use and then force yourself to build a habit of using it. I personally use a physical planner and can’t imagine what I’d do without it.
Use your PTO
Take time away from the office to recharge your battery. And give your team permission to do so, as well. Set the example of using your own. Don’t be the boss who gives someone a hard time for using a benefit your company provides them. ●
Jessica Sublett is CEO of Bounce Innovation Hub