I had a conversation recently with a friend who was sharing their excitement about a new job they are soon starting up. This person is very talented and has worked extremely hard to deepen their own learning and skillset over the years. With their new job comes much greater responsibility as they are overseeing the development of many people under them.
During the conversation, we further unpacked the role of their job and what some of their hopes were in moving forward. Although this person has a clear vision of what it is they would like to focus on, they are unclear of the actual goals that need to be set now to get them to the place that they want to be down the road, in regards to the impact that they would like to have.
One of the things that this person feels they must prioritize is blocking off time to do deep work each day. Time needed to invest in thinking, planning, processing and better understanding the complexities of their new role in the greater scope of the organization.
Even though they understand that making this time sacred is critically important to their success within the new role, they are concerned that it may seem to be a selfish move.
What might other’s think of them wanting to have this uninterrupted time to work independently on their own each day. Might it be perceived that they are not a team player?
My advice to this person was based on something I once heard. Such valuable advice it was.
“Saying no to others means saying yes to our own priorities and what matters most.”
Gracefully being able to say no establishes our own boundaries. And with these boundaries comes the opportunity to focus on the deep work needed to be intentional, precise, and purposeful in our actions as leaders.
Blocking off time to do our own deep work will make us better at what we do. It allows us to clearly break down bigger goals into achievable micro-goals each day. It allows us to process and prioritize what’s on our plates. As well, it strengthens our ability to deepen focus and with this focus comes clarity.
I often ask leaders that I coach this question:
To what extent do you have the autonomy needed to block off time in your schedule to do deep work?
Although most of them say they have the freedom to build this time into their schedule, many of them don’t actually do it. There are many reasons for it, but one of the biggest ones is fear of being judged by others. The fear of looking selfish or to be seen as taking advantage of the autonomy that their leadership position provides them.
Leaders are facing greater amounts of information and complexity than ever before. Therefore, setting boundaries must be prioritized when it comes to their time. Doing the deeper work needed to be impactful requires this time. Time to think, learn, plan, pivot, and prioritize the next steps needed to be put into action in order to do their jobs well.
So, as you reflect on your own leadership role, here are two questions for you to consider:
How much uninterrupted time do you have each day for this work?
How important is it to you to block off time to do deeper work in order to help you be more impactful in your role?
Remember that saying ‘no’ to others is actually saying yes to the things that matter most in regards to your own role and responsibilities.
So, I hope you are blocking off time for uninterrupted deep work in your weekly routine.
Thanks for reading.
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.