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Chasing Time

Updated: Nov 17, 2019

Shifting from chasing time to making time

We are each given the same amount of hours in the day. For most of us, these hours are full and often aren’t enough. We end our day feeling discouraged about what didn’t get done. The pace of our day and the lack of time cause stress. We seek time to realize balance, to work on other projects, to catch our breath, to work on our potential and to work for the future.

Shifting from chasing time to making time

I work with high growth or high change focused leaders. Time and productivity are inevitably themes of one or several of our discussions. We can’t make more time in our day, so our schedule must evolve and we must realize that a new state means change.

We are all given the same amount of time each day. How are you using your time?

What gets in the way

In our busy and changing world, we at times seek things in our lives that feel easier or more comfortable. Habit is a topic I’ve covered before. In Engaging In Autopilot we look at how habits become embedded in our day and become comfortable. These habits can get in our way from realizing other goals, bigger goals, future visions and aspirations.

A change in the time in your day begins with you. I’ll forewarn that there’s a messy middle to getting to the change you desire - and it will be worth it.

Surround yourself with help

Most of my clients have a support team which includes an executive assistant. When we dig into their working relationship with them, it often shows a very reactive relationship that can have imperfections in the foundations of trust, communication, delegation and feedback.

I had coffee with one of my network who’s a leader in her executive assistant profession. I wanted to get her side of the story. One comment that has stuck with me was that she saw the ownership of setting expectations as the role of the executive assistant. Said another way, the executive assistant must show up with leadership to their executive to realize the best results from the working relationship.

Here’s what else she shared with me on what makes a great support person and offers the ideal working relationship for an executive:

  • Trust must be built and be the strength to a successful and productive relationship

  • The support leader must have awareness in themselves and in reading others

  • Role clarity must be in place and agreed to

  • Communication is essential and needs to go both ways

  • Proactivity is part of the work

  • Leadership is owned, earned and demonstrated

  • The administrative lead must have the ability to be assertive with both the leader and those seeking time with the leader

Where I see the ability for executive assistants and administrative support impeded is the fault of the leader. The most frequently seen issue is the leader’s high control trait and the associated limiting effect on trust and delegation. Tied to this point and a reflection of busy schedules are habits and reactive styles. You can help yourself by setting those who help you up for success. It’s time to have a conversation with your key support team and really listen. Hire right, manage, lead, coach and mentor. When assessing the team who support making you time, the key question is, “Do I want to coach up or coach out?”.

Pay attention to the right things

I use TAIS to understand leadership profile with my clients. The profile predicts how my clients will lead, communicate and interact with team and clients and manage their time. A unique aspect of TAIS is the assessment of attentional distractors. I can see what is incorrectly distracting a leader. The three areas that are our distractors are external, internal and flexibility. These distractors translate into being distracted by your environment, your wandering mind and the speed with which you switch attention style from your environment to your head or vice versa.

I get distracted by environment. My business coach busted me on my habits that are fueling this in our recent conversation about my own time management. She asked the simple question, “How many browsers do you have open right now?” Well I had a lot. I had excuses for why I did. The real answer is my habits and feeding my distractibility style. I am now working on a new habit of closing browsers, including my email, when I have a bigger priority to focus on, or more specifically, don’t want to get distracted.

My clients are never surprised by what distracts them. They are often surprised by how strong the distraction style is. The good news is that unlike other personality characteristics, we can work on this. To perform at our best, we must remain focused. We must not let ourselves get incorrectly distracted.

When our attention is completely derailed, research shows, it can take more than 20 minutes to refocus. – Chris Bailey 4 Strategies for Overcoming Distractions

Advice from your coach

Well you know I’m Not Going To Tell You, yet I’d like to offer a couple areas to start you working on changing your time investment.

  • Embrace your growth mindset

  • Open up your awareness and feedback loop

  • Know the vision and rewards you are working towards, personally and professionally

  • Define your work in 3 -5 categories. Set their priority. Allocate how much time you should be spending on each of these areas. Start planning, booking and assessing your calendar to realize them. Time blocking or colour coding are tactics that come into play here

  • Set boundaries of who and what you need to push to the future, say No to or delegate

  • Re-schedule Your Schedule For White Space and make sure you have time to prepare or debrief and reflect after meetings. For introverts, make sure you have your people breaks scheduled too

  • Make time for what makes you happy or energizes you. Start small and keep building upon it

  • Learn why you are getting distracted from the things that matter to you

  • Plan ahead, plan proactively

  • Leverage those around you for support

I see leadership as a system that is not defined by title. We each have ownership to lead ourselves. In Your Ownership of Leadership, I share insights on our personal potential to be bold in managing ourselves.

Google time management or productivity and you’ll find a massive amount of content on insights and systems. The starting point to all this is your work on you. It’s about defining what your gaps are from your current state to your aspired future state. If you are looking for more time, you need to make it. You need to make changes.

You’ll notice I spent little time talking about work life balance. That gets defined in your vision and then you’ll be working toward it as you set your plan and manage your priorities. We each define balance our own way. Know what works for you. Know what you aspire to have.

Enjoy investing in yourself for a return to realize what you want.

Other Resources

Clear, James. Atomic Habits. Cornerstone Digital, 2018.

Keller, Gary. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. Bard Press, 2013.

Covey, Stephen. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Free Press, 2004.

Kikki habits and goals blotters and journals


Lisa W. Haydon is the President and Founder of Pivotal Coaching Inc. She left her comfortable corporate career several years ago to follow her passion of helping people realize their potential and companies to realize high performance. Lisa is a growth focused entrepreneur, leadership development consultant and certified executive coach. To her clients, she brings business experience with prestigious corporations and continuous education. Lisa’s work in business operations and B to B sales expertise allowed her to create a differentiated coaching model and client experience. Lisa and Pivotal Coaching are known for 1:1 and cohort Programs in leadership development and sales effectiveness.


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