Last week, I challenged you to track your most precious non-renewable resource… your time. Every minute is a precious life unit. What did you discover that you are doing with yours? We need to chart our time carefully if we want to take our power back and get into the driver’s seat of life. Take out the time-tracking you did, and let’s make sure that you STOP WASTING your most precious non-renewable resource and take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

  1. Be honest with yourself and be your own life coach. To really take charge of your life starts here… Visualise your time use as a pie chart and ask and answer some critical questions: What gets the largest slice? What gets the smallest? How well does this sit with you? What slice would you like to increase? What slice would you like to reduce? What would it take from you? What are afraid you’ll lose? What are you sacrificing if you don’t make changes? Can you live with the consequences?

    As you reflect on the week gone by and the week before that and that, are you truly living to your highest potential and are you happy with your time distribution, your energy levels, your healthy, your quality of family connection, your fun quota and so on? Last week I emphasised how essential it is to make you a priority. Now I’ll add some work related tips that can help you to save the time that you might still be missing to take for yourself…

  2. State your preferred method of communication. When I was young, the only choice we had was to make a phone call or send a fax but now we have so many other channels. Through the pandemic, the number of new platforms has exploded. And, almost everyone has a communication preference of some sort. Email or WhatsApp (especially voice notes) work best for me as I am always facilitating or coaching. But if it were something complex we needed to discuss, I’d prefer a call during my lunch break with a quick email afterwards (if necessary) to confirm the conversation or actions required. If it is my to do list, I like it written down and right next to me on my desk and so on. Make sure people understand the best ways to engage with you and that you learn their preferences too. And if the way you are communicating with someone is not working (like you can never reach them when you call), try a different method. Don’t get stuck in a pattern of insanity.
  3. Insist on agendas for meetings. Agendas must become part of your meeting culture. Pointless or rambling meetings are a big drain on company and personal resources. Asking for an agenda ensures that you really need to be part of the meeting in the first place and enables you to prepare and contribute fully if you do need to be there. It could also help you to assess if there is a part of the meeting you need to attend and parts you could skip. I’ve often restructured a meeting so my ‘slot’ is later in the day, and I can arrive after lunch if it is a whole day meeting.
  4. Invite the ‘correct’ people to meetings. Meetings with more than six attendees are known to be less productive than those where numbers are limited. Ensure that there are no irrelevant attendees and that decision makers with the authority to get things moving are present. When invited to a meeting, ask two critical questions: (1) Do I need to be there? (See previous point for why this is so important) and (2) Will the key people needed be there too? Otherwise, it might just be a meeting held to schedule another meeting!
  5. Reduce meeting time. I’ve taken meetings that would usually have been scheduled for 60-minutes down to 30-minutes. People cut their cloth accordingly and come better prepared when they have less time. If you have a day with many back-to-back hour-long meetings that can’t be cut to 30-min, at least adjust them to 55-minutes. This will not impact the outcome of the meeting, but it will give you time to have a biology break, breathe and decompress between meetings. Everyone attending will be grateful for this time too! And you’ll go into your next meeting more focused and able to be more productive.
  6. Teach people how to treat you. Say NO, push back and/or be more direct. I recently had an executive coaching client who realised that he was unconsciously allowing another director to bully him. The other director would leave my client to answer emails addressed to both of them, cancel meetings at the last minute and delay in getting critical info through for an audit. This was putting a lot of stress on my client and his team. He realised that this was happening because he was allowing it. So, he communicated more directly about the problem and the other director has changed his behaviour as a result. What conversations do you need to have? What boundaries do you need to honour? You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce.

As you’ll see from the six Key Steps above, the power really does lie in your hands. Lean into your own authority, take charge and take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’ 


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.

Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’