Are you living in a constant state of urgency?

Busyness has become an epidemic of our time. You may have even noticed, it’s actually been glamorized in certain circles as if busy equates to important.

With the sheer volume of notifications and distractions that are inevitable every day, it’s no wonder that so many people are stressed out.

But, I have to ask – why are we all so often driven by deadlines? Why do we tolerate a life of reacting?

Urgent and chaotic busyness is a trap.

Quite often, it’s a habit that we get ourselves into that helps us avoid addressing what we really want in life.

What if I told you that busyness may be a way of playing small?

Hear me out.

We only have so much time and if our purpose, values, and vision are clear – it also becomes very clear how we should be spending our time. Prioritising becomes a piece of cake.

But, when we aren’t clear on our purpose, values, and vision – what happens?

Demands on time aren’t carefully screened for their relevance to our purpose, values, and vision.

We then allow all kinds of distractions and other people’s priorities to lead the way. Our life is made up of a series of reactions to whatever crosses our path.

We get stuck in a state of urgency that has nothing to do with what’s truly important.

The key to creating a deliberate life on track with our big picture vision and moving from a state of urgency to a state of focus is all about how we spend our time.

Urgent versus Important

Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix provides a great model for looking at how we spend our time and how we can make improvements.

The idea is to spend as much time as possible on things that are important but not necessarily urgent. That last part might sound counterintuitive, but stay with me.

Made popular by Steven Covey, Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix asks that tasks be broken down and assigned to one of four categories based on whether they are important and/or urgent:

 

Eisenhower Decision Matrix

image credit: www.gearsofmind.com

1. Urgent and Important

These are tasks that align with your big goals and vision but have gotten to a place where they’re urgent.

These can be emergencies, looming deadlines, and could arrive by calls and emails. Sometimes these are driven by a boss or board or can occur when something important happens.

Often a failure in something, or a problem (PR problem, governance concern, poor audit, etc) will make an important task also become an urgent one.

2. Not Urgent but Important

These are tasks that are important to your long term success but are not being driven by a looming deadline. Life events in this box could be exercise, vacation and family time.

Work activities in this quadrant could be launching a new product line, improving staff morale, moving to a culture of collaboration, adapting to changing client needs, etc.

You can see how those items could be hugely important but might not have the firm deadline on them like the more urgent things.

Staying on top of these items in Quadrant 2 not only has the most profound effect on you or your organization, it also prevents these items from becoming urgent (Quadrant 1) and thus a crisis.

3. Urgent and Not Important

These are often other people’s priorities that arrive as interruptions and distractions. For example, when someone stops by your desk to ask you a question or an email you receive where the sender has a sense of urgency but it’s not connected to what’s important to you.

4. Not Urgent and Not Important

These tasks are the time wasters, trivia, and busy work. They’re not urgent and they don’t connect to any greater purpose. These are things like watching TV and scrolling through social media without purpose.

So How Does This Help?

First, if you earnestly look at each task throughout your day and assign them to one of these categories, it can be very eye-opening to see how much time we spend on things that aren’t actually important.

And, there’s an energetic component to it as well. When you find yourself spending a lot of time on things that are not important and not urgent – doesn’t it feel kind of draining?

As if, you know that there are better ways to spend your time but you’re somehow stuck scrolling through social media or watching TV.

Once you’ve started figuring out which items are in which quadrant, and where you spend your time, you now start dropping everything in Quadrant 4, delegating or dismissing Quadrant 3 while putting as much effort as possible in Quadrant 2.

If there are items in Quadrant 1, clean them up and get back to Quadrant 2.

The goal is to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant 2.

I’ll emphasize that again, the goal is quadrant 2, not quadrant 1.

Items in Quadrant 2 (important but not urgent) are the big picture, long term things that change lives and redirect companies.

Items in that quadrant can become urgent too, but not often enough to wait for that to happen before you make them a priority.

If we spend most of our time there, important things won’t need to become urgent and we can stay focused on the big goals filled with purpose and meaning.

Coach’s Question:

Does your organization have a culture of busy = important? What will you do today to shift to important versus urgent?

Six ideas for successfully onboarding new employees

We’re lucky people here at Padraig. We get to work closely with some of the most amazing leaders and leadership teams across North America (and, indeed a bit of Europe and Asia too).

Not only do we get to help these extraordinary leaders become even better at what they do, accomplish even greater things and grow even stronger teams, we also get to learn from them. And that’s pretty amazing.

One of the areas we constantly hear great ideas from is our leader clients is how to welcome and onboard new employees to help them get up to speed quickly and more importantly, successfully.

Here are some of our favourites:

Make sure you’re ready for them

Sounds a bit like a no-brainer, I know. But, you’d be surprised at how many organizations have employees who start their first day without a workstation, without access to email, and without a plan for their time.

Remember, first impressions count and this employee is still deciding if they’ve made the right choice by coming on board with you. The position of power has shifted and great employees aren’t always easy to come by.

Before your new recruit arrives on the job – make sure they know you’re happy that they’re there.

Put a few things in place to “wow” them right away such as:

  • Make sure their workstation is set up and ready to go;
  • Have business cards printed and ready, if possible;
  • Ensure all IT is set up and they have access to email and other technology they’ll need, and
  • Prepare an agenda for them for their first week so they know exactly what they’re supposed to be up to. (But, make sure there’s lots of time to do everything so pressure is low. The priority is to bring them into your culture).

Small acts like these send the message that the new hire is valued and that, as an organization, you’re on top of the details.

Mentor them in

For every new hire, identify someone (or two someones) on your team who have experience that will help this person. Perhaps they did the job, or a similar one before (or still) and they’re great at it. Don’t forget that existing employees may not have experience mentoring people so walk them through how to help others and let them ask lots of questions of you before the new recruit arrives.

Use a shared profile tool for everyone

We use Everything DiSC®, our top-selling Behaviour profile tool, with companies around the world and they love it. DiSC is one of the simplest, clearest of these types of tools and, most importantly, focuses not just on knowing yourself but on figuring out others so you can adapt your approach and build stronger relationships.

Many of our clients who have had us in to do DiSC workshops or to do profiles for their staff ask us to run a quick profile for every new hire. It helps the new hire know themselves and we can then draw linkages to their new colleagues and help them figure out how to interact with them.

As well, it becomes a bonding experience over shared language when existing employees can ask them about their “DiSC type” and start a conversation around that.

If you’re interested in DiSC for your organization, Click here.

Make a lunch date

The first day on a new job can be overwhelming. Can you remember a first day in a new organization? Maybe your first day at college or university?

Make the first day a good memory for your new recruit by having one or more of their colleagues take them out to lunch. The company should pick up the tab while the new recruit gets to bond with their new team and the team gets to enjoy a little perk while they welcome their new teammate.

Coffee Time

If lunch is too expensive, here’s an alternative we heard about that we think is a great idea: a coffee gift card. As part of your welcome package, besides the photocopier manual and a guide for how to sign up for the company insurance plan, give the new recruit a pre-loaded gift card for the best local coffee shop and tell them they’re to use it for taking each person on their team out for coffee.

Free coffee, and maybe a donut, are never a bad thing and it accomplishes a couple other goals:

1) Gives the new employee a really good (and easy) reason to strike up a conversation with a colleague, and

2) Get them to know their team and bond with them outside the immediate pressures of the workplace.

Accelerating Success

If the new recruit is going to be a leader in your organization — ie. responsible for leading a team of others, or leading a project with other members on the project team, we love doing our “Accelerating Success” program for them.

With this program we help the new leader and the team, get to know each other, overcome months of learning curves and deliver high performing results to the organization.  

Past participants have said this cleared out “6 months of BS and got us moving so quickly.” And, “Yesterday was the most productive meeting of its kind that I have participated in for a decade. Thanks for leading the time and the legwork beforehand.”

One of our clients even did a case study with us, comparing the situation when the new leader arrived to the situation after we ran the program.

The effects were lasting and a year later they calculated that their savings and gains from doing this program were 27x the cost of the program! You can read the case-study here.

The Coach’s Question

What are you doing to make sure new recruits land firmly and hit the ground running with confidence and pride in their new employer? We would love to hear your answers. Leave a comment below to share with us, and other readers, what has worked for you.