Are you struggling to get in control of your time at work?
It typically looks something like this:
– You’re stuck in the weeds
– You’re working long hours
– And as a result, you’re struggling to do what you know it will take to get ahead in your career
And it makes sense.
If your bandwidth is being pushed to the limits, of course you’re going to feel overwhelmed and reluctant to raise your hand and ask for more responsibility.
But I know you.
YOU want to make a bigger impact at your organization, but you can’t help but wonder:
‘How can you do it without burning myself out?’
Well, there are very specific things you can do in your career to free up more time, and I’m diving into each of them in this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer.
I’ll show you how to think about and manage your time like a senior executive leader (starting today) AND I’ll also give you practical time management tips that will help you think more strategically, strike a better work/life balance, show the leadership team you’re ready to scale, AND (most importantly) no longer feel like your job controls you.
What You'll Learn:
- How I have mastered time in my own life
- What ‘Einstein time’ is, and how it applies to your job
- Why successful senior executive leaders have more time freedom than you do
- Why you need to schedule strategic thinking time (and how to do it)
- The #1 question to ask yourself if you want to accomplish more at work today
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And super excited, as always, to be here with you again this week.
This is a very special point in time for me. I am actually right in the middle of bringing in a new group of corporate leaders into my Executive Ahead Of Time group training intensive. And just a few weeks ago, I said goodbye to the group of leaders that graduated from my Executive Ahead Of Time group training intensive. So I'm right in between the two groups. And the reason why this is such a special time is two things are happening for me right now.
One is the anticipation. I only know the participants that are in the next group by name and I know a little bit about them, what they've shared with me on their intake questionnaire, what they've shared with me in terms of their challenges, and what they hope to get out of the next two months of working together. But I have all of this hope and possibility for them because I know that once they start to put some of the teachings into place, they're going to reap the rewards almost immediately. This is the anticipation for what I see as possible for them. And knowing that it's right around the corner, knowing that all of these "Oh, My God, Stacy" moments are about to come. "Can you believe it? My SVP just said yes to a meeting that I scheduled, a meeting request that I put in with him. Stacy, can you believe it?" "I actually decided to have that conversation with my boss about my professional development. Not only did my boss agree with me, but she offered several suggestions of things that I could do differently. Stacy, can you believe it?" "I finally made some decisions, some hard decisions about how I'm spending my time throughout the week and I've been able to carve out even extra space to spend with my kids. Stacy, can you..."
So these are the things that will start to happen for them very soon. And I am very, very excited for them and I just can't wait to get started.
And then on the reverse, what happens is I have this incredible group of leaders that I took through the six weeks, gave them all of these tools, and then now they also get to reap the rewards of their work over the past six weeks. They've started to have those conversations. They've started to see, "Oh, OK. This is working. This is how I am supposed to be showing up as that executive at work." "OK, these are the decisions that I would be making if I was a senior executive leader." And then what's going to start to happen for them is, again, the rewards. They're going to start to get some signs that things are working. Actually, this is the time when I start to receive messages from people that I haven't been technically working with for the past two months but they've continued to listen to my podcast. They've continued to do what we talked about over the six weeks. And this is the time when they start to receive magical job offers. This is the time when they start to get clarity on what they need to do and put in their two weeks' notice. Perhaps, if that's what they decide to do.
This is the time when they start to make powerful decisions about their career and they actually really start speaking up in meetings because it's no longer an option for them to be silent. So do you see where I'm going? This in-between? Time is so incredibly powerful and yeah, I'm excited.
It's great. It's great. I can't wait. And I will be sharing with you all of their wins along the way. And why is that? It's because I want you to know what is possible for you as well. No matter how stuck you feel right now, no matter how frustrated, or perhaps things are going quite well for you at work. But, you know, you were meant for so much more. You know, that you could have a more proactive voice at the table. You know, that you could be in a senior executive leadership position if you simply apply yourself.
I want you to know that all of this is not only possible for you, but it's got to happen, right? You just stay around me long enough and it will happen. I mean that sincerely.
So in today's episode, I'm going to be talking to you about time. And for many of you, being overworked right now is a thing, right? It's like you already feel maxed out in terms of bandwidth, in terms of your time, in terms of your ability to do "more at work." So while you may be desiring to make a bigger impact at your organization, you can't possibly imagine how that would look. And so, therefore, you don't necessarily raise your hand to take on more work because you realize there's some shedding that you need to do in terms of your current level of responsibilities. And so I'm going to give you some things to think about in today's episode in terms of how you're managing your time, how you're thinking about your time, and how you would be thinking about your time if you were at that senior executive level position already.
And as you know, I teach the concepts of Executive Ahead Of time, which means if you were already in that position, that senior executive leadership position, and you would be thinking about time in a certain way. I'm going to show you how to start doing that today.
So the first thing that I want to mention to you and you may have heard about this, is the concept that time is not linear. So in Gay Hendriks's book The Big Leap, he talks about a concept called Einstein Time. And I believe that there's research done on this. And certainly, I'm no expert, but what I am going to give you is my expert opinion of how I have perceived and learned to work with time in my own life and how that has helped benefit not only my own career but how it's helped benefit my client's careers as well.
I'm going to give you a brief understanding of what Einstein time is. Einstein determined that time is relative. In other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. So, for instance, the other day I was supposed to go to my school's pick up. And I forgot about it. My kids are on Zoom and I have to go pick up supplies once a month, and it's very annoying, by the way. But it's something that we do at least. I don't have to drop my kids off at school every single day right now. So it's all relative. But I forgot, and I was like, "Oh my goodness, guys, we have to hop in the car" and, you know, I'm kind of stressed out.
I'm like, we have to hurry up. We have to hurry, hurry, hurry. And I'm driving down the road when it actually occurred to me in my head that I was technically working against time. I was stressed out and I was worried. I was like, I hope we get there in time We have to pick up these supplies. I noticed that I was hitting every single red light. And so what I did at that moment is I took a deep breath. And I just... I guess how they would describe it, I leaned into time instead of fighting against it. I leaned into it. That's the only way I can describe it. I took a deep breath. I'm driving, and I just said, "We'll get there when we get there." And I started driving and all of the lights were green. We pulled up. We were five minutes late. The teacher was still standing outside. She gave us our materials and we moved on. And my lesson that I really took away from that is, that it's not that I control time or I changed time, it's just that because I was more relaxed. I was able to get there probably in the same amount of time, but in a different state, in a different frame of reference. So, therefore, possibilities were open to me. I was available to those possibilities. I was open to receiving whatever was in front of me.
So the reason that I share with you the story is, right now you are in a fixed role. So even if you were in middle management and maybe you're already in a senior executive leadership position, you have certain things, certain job requirements that are a part of your everyday life. And you can see it. You're too much into the details and you're fixated on your deliverables. And you can feel that. It's like I have to be there. I have to get this done by a certain time. OK, now, the first thing that I want to point out to you is up until this point in your career, so the first 20 years of your career and most of you, unless you knew you were going to be an executive leader since you were young, you probably came in at some sort of area of expertise. Maybe you went to college for engineering, maybe you went to college for marketing, maybe you went to college for just really any journalism. Who knows what you went to college for. But it was a certain area of expertise that you were going to master. And the first 20 years of your career, you were expected to hit deadlines. Essentially, you were paid by the hour, even if you were paid a salary, you paid to deliver a product.
So think about that. For the first 20 years of your career, your time was relative to you. Well, relative to your output. Now, as you start to transition into executive leadership, you are going to start to get paid for your ideas, not for the hours that you put in at work. OK, so you're getting paid for your ideas. You know how important it is to be more strategic to spend time thinking about the bigger picture yet, because up until this point, what you have known in your career is to deliver. To deliver by a certain time frame. You were very, very time-bound. Let's take this even a bigger out, you know, even one step further, which is that now you're starting to receive feedback because you've probably spoken up. You've probably said you're ready for those next levels of leadership. Maybe you're already in an executive position. And so now from executive leadership, you're receiving feedback that you're getting burned out, that you seem a bit overwhelmed, that you're working too hard. These are mixed messages. This is mixed feedback because here's what you know to be true: If you stop delivering, if you stop working so hard, then you won't produce the product that you want to produce, that's actually a requirement, still, of your job.
And so your boss is telling you to take time for yourself to make sure that you don't get too stressed out, to spend time thinking more strategically and honestly. If they don't tell you that with their words, they're probably telling you that in terms of the feedback that you're getting. If you're not getting promoted, it's because they don't see you as that strategic level thinker. I'm pointing out here in terms of time, you're thinking about your output as being your highest value for your organization. What you deliver. OK, and that works really well right up to the director or senior director level. At some organizations, it totally scales into PvP or SVP roles. But I will tell you if you make it into that SVP role and you're still bringing all of these habits with you, that is when the actual burnout occurs because your scale is so big and your responsibility is so big, you can't possibly add more hours to your day. You feel very stressed out. And then it's just like the spiral, right? It's like when I was riding down the road and I'm stressed because we have to get there. We have to hurry. We have to hurry. And then it's like every single red light we hit, my kids start screaming. All of the stuff.
I took a deep breath. I slowed down literally, like in my mind, my car still driving the same speed. And I know the kids got quieter, right. The lights started turning green. So that's the first thing that I want you to realize, is that you are a part of time. Right, we are all mixed in with time.
The second thing I want you to realize is that when you look at successful senior executive leaders, if you don't have any senior executive leaders as role models who aren't burned out, that aren't freaking out all the time, that aren't running around with their head cut off, then I want you to know you just have really bad role models. So go and find better role models because there are a lot of executives out there that are able to do both. They are able to deliver, they are able to be productive, and also be seen for their ideas. Also carve out time for themselves, also carve out time for their families. And if you listen to this podcast, every single executive that I interview on this podcast is one of those types of people. So make sure you start surrounding yourself with better role models, OK?
You see your leadership running around with their heads cut off, and so you figure that that's just what you have to do. But that's actually not true. So when you look at a successful senior executive leader, they actually have more time than you do. And why is that? So they have more responsibility, they're making a bigger impact at their organization, yet somehow they're able to have more time, freedom. So the first thing I want you to realize is that's because they're in charge. Right. So here's another great example in terms of scheduling. So I schedule my coaching conversations with my clients. I schedule them. And the easiest ones to schedule are with the higher-level executives because they are in control of their time. Right. Because they're literally in control. Because they're in charge. Right. And so if they have a team meeting there, they're calling it. Whereas when you're in a position where you're just at the whim of your boss and your boss's boss and your boss's boss's boss, you end up, especially in middle management, attending a ton of meetings and feeling like there's no hope. Right. So that is one thing. It's just being in charge. Another thing, this is just a little bit of a side note. In terms of impact, and influence that we're able to make in our organizations, one of the reasons why I am on a mission to get a thousand corporate women and male minority leaders promoted into senior executive leadership positions each year is because we need that level of influence at the top.
One of the reasons why I am on a mission to get a thousand corporate women and male minority leaders promoted into senior executive leadership positions each year is because we need that level of influence at the top. Right. We actually need you in a higher-level executive position if we hope to change this. If we hope to change the system. If we want to start seeing more executive leaders that look like you. Let's start with getting you promoted into a senior executive leadership position. So that's my little rant. But I just want to tell you. In order to make the change let's get you into a position of influence. And this is the way we're going to do it even faster. I don't want you to get into that position of influence when you're three years out from retirement. Let's do it now. Let's start making an impact at your organization now. OK, so that's one thing, is that the higher up you get into executive leadership, the more in charge of your time you are.
The second thing is, is most leaders are able to really successfully raise their hand and just say give me more AND they also have other priorities like their health or their family or things other than work. Some people would prefer to avoid all of that or those things about their life. They want to shut them out. So they just spend 70 hours at work, like, OK, find more power to you. But that's not you because you actually care about more things than just your job, OK?
And so if you want to be somebody who is in that type of position that really early on, you have to be making different types of decisions about your time. And so most senior executive leaders when you see them, cool, calm, collected cucumber's when you see them making a huge impact at their organization, yet somehow they're also able to network, go to speaking events, write a book, do "thought leadership", and somehow they're able to mentor 10, 20 people. How are they possibly able to do that if they're not in control of their time? And now let's think about this idea of in control. So when you're feeling stressed and you're feeling anxious about time and when you're feeling frustrated, you actually are not in control. Right? At all. You're actually very helpless. Right. Time is controlling you. When you're able to take that deep breath, when you're able to slow down, when you're able to come back and to actually prioritize, you are controlling time. Essentially, time slows down.
I want to give you another example of how this played out for me. And you may have experienced episodes of this over the past year because we were forced to literally change our schedules.
So a year ago now, March of 2020 first came and I realized my kids were now going to be at home and I was going to have to take care of them. Throughout the day, my husband and I talked about our schedules and it became very clear that I wasn't going to be able to work the same number of hours in the day. It wasn't actually possible for us to be able to trade-off with the children and work the same amount of hours.
And so for me personally, my hours actually cut in half by 50%. And I didn't really have the desire to let go of the impact that I had planned on making in 2020. So I said, "OK, well, if my hours are going to get cut in half, I need to be better with my time." Right? So we could look at this as a time management thing. OK, so I need to organize my time better. I need it. But really the way that I approached it was two ways. I created better boundaries. So when I went to work, I was at work. I had my door shut. My husband didn't bother me. I was with my clients. I had to say, I have to cut off my client calls at a certain time. So I created boundaries, time-bound boundaries for my time. I protected my time. I still wanted to have what I call thinking time. So this is strategic thinking time. I still wanted to have just as much of that in my life because I knew how important that was. And so what I did is I started to organize my strategic thinking time.
So instead of, you may have had this happened to you, where you start to have some downtime, and you're like, "Oh my God, I don't even know what to do with this." I don't even know what to do with myself right now. And so 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes of not knowing what to do with yourself go by, and before you know it, your 30-minute chunk of time has already passed. Right. You've already said goodbye to it. Now you have to get back to work. So I started to organize and plan my strategic thinking time as well. I also had to plan my downtime in terms of exercise, my health, time that I was going to spend with my kids. So I got super organized with my day. And what I noticed for me personally is I was able to be just as productive and have that same amount of output with less time spent physically at work.
Now, for you, it probably hasn't been 50/50, but it might have been cut down a little bit. Let's be honest, so let's say 20%. You're spending 20% less hours at work. How are you possibly able to get just as much done with that 20% gone. Now, you might be somebody who is like, "Well, I'm not doing as good of a job as I used to." And maybe part of the reason that you're not doing as good of a job as you used to was that 20% was your strategic thinking time. And so this is what strategic thinking time looks like when it's not planned.
It looks like bumping into your boss in the hallway. It looks like talking to people at lunchtime, scheduling lunch dates. Those are all strategic thinking times because what are you doing? You're having higher-level conversations with people. Right? So those are the things that we tend to eliminate when time gets tough. And so we just, sort of, let it go. And the reason why we let it go so easily is that we weren't being purposeful with it in the first place. It was something that we just allowed to happen to us. Right. So let's look at that bump in the hallway, right. When we pop into our boss's office, when we bump into somebody in the hallway and we just kind of run something by them. Right. You feel like that's something that's just happened to you, right? Like it's like, well, and I can't recreate it because now we're on Zoom, so I'm just letting that go. And then a year later, now you're realizing I am not being as strategic as I used to be. And the only reason is, is because you don't have those bumps in the hallway anymore. You don't have that connection with executive leadership that you used to have. So what we're going to start to do right now, as of today that you're listening to this podcast is stop doing that. So we are going to take back control of our time, not from a rigid time management perspective, where every single thing has to be blocked out, but by owning the fact that strategic thinking is part of your job.
So I don't care where you are, if you're still an individual contributor, a middle manager, or already an executive leader, strategic thinking is part of your job. So I'm just going to give you a percentage. If you look at your work week, I'd like you to challenge yourself. To have 20 or 30 percent. 30 percent would be excellent. You time, strategic thinking time. This could happen in the shower. It could happen when you're exercising. It could happen when you go for a walk. It could happen through casual conversations. It could happen through mentoring. It could happen through networking. It could also happen through a carved-out thirty-minute chunk of time where you're sitting down just with your journal and asking yourself this extremely powerful question.
So this is my tip for today. This question that I want you to start asking yourself is, what is the most important thing that I could get accomplished today that would make everything else easier or unnecessary? Now, I didn't come up with that question. It's just a question that I use for myself every day. And it comes from a book called The One Thing that I highly recommend. You check it out. What is the one thing that I could accomplish today that would make everything else easier or unnecessary? You could journal on that question for 20 minutes. Another thing that you can start to ask yourself is right before a meeting, even just five minutes before a meeting, what's the most important outcome of this meeting? Now, you might think, OK, well, I need to just make this presentation right.
That's what I want you to even go higher level with this. Like, so we're really thinking about strategy, like strategic thinking. So perhaps your outcome that you want to have happened in that meeting is I want to build trust with such and such. I want my SBP to see me as the executive in charge of this project. Right. That is an even more important outcome. So that is the most important thing that you could accomplish that would make everything else easier and unnecessary. So if you could get your SVP to acknowledge and respect you as the person in charge of this particular project, then everything else becomes easier. Because now you don't have to check-in. You don't have to justify. You don't have to make promises. You don't have to be having all of these meetings because when you're SVP trust you, you're able to just run with things. You're able to own the project, you're able to delegate. You're you don't have to constantly be checking in about the details and proving your worth in terms of the hours that you put in, but more importantly, the ideas that you have. So this is the goal that each and every one of you should have is how can I get paid for my ideas and not the hours that we work each and every week. And the way that we're going to do that is by starting to control our time and prioritize.
So I wanted to offer up this episode to you. If you were somebody that you feel very overwhelmed if you feel like you don't have a handle on your time, how can you start using some of the things that I've talked about today as a way to regain control, as a way to start showing executive leadership that you are ready to scale, that you are ready to make that impact and start showing yourself, quite frankly, because part of the reason that you're not raising your hand is that you're scared to take on more. So we have to find ways to start getting this ahead of time. Right. That is becoming that executive ahead of time. So as we continue to scale, as we start to make that bigger impact at our organizations, we know how to prioritize. We know what to let go of and we know how to manage our time. If you start doing this, not only are you going to have more time, you're going to be happier at work. You're going to feel more connected in the relationships that you do have. You're going to feel like you do have a purpose. You're going to feel like you're not controlled by your job, consumed by your job. You're going to have more breathing room. And it's going to feel really darn good when your CEO asks to run something by you before she presents it to the entire board. Right. That feels really good.
It's scary at first if you've never had it done before, but try it twice, you're going to be like, Dang, Stacy, I am ready. I am the Executive Ahead of Time and let's frickin do this.
All right, my friends, thank you so much for being here with me this week. And I can't wait to see you again next week. Bye.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.