Recently, I’ve been taking on a lot more responsibility and the hours in the day just weren’t enough to get it all done. I take that back; I had enough time to do everything, just not enough time to do it all well. I found I was picking and choosing which things would get more focus than others and while it hadn’t happened yet, I knew that it was only a matter of time before some of my duties suffered from the lack of focus or worse, I would start to suffer from the lack of balance.
Shortly after I surfaced this concern with my team, I was asked to write my job description. At first, it seemed like I needed to write a laundry list of everything I do each day. My first draft was very lengthy, but as I went through the exercise I realized I was asking important questions. Why, for example, was I taking on more duties without letting any of my previous obligations go? There were people on my team with the skills and knowledge to take some of these tasks, so why was I so afraid to let go? The simple answer is that I have a Wonder Woman complex.
I recognized this was unhealthy. As they say, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. I started to evaluate my list and categorize them into four buckets:
- Things I need to do.
- Things I should try to do (because need is sometimes relative).
- Things I want to do.
- Things I can give to someone else.
Several tasks were moved into bucket #4 and I thought, “Great!” that’s a huge help and I started making plans to migrate those responsibilities to other willing and very capable teammates. A few of the items in my “need to do” and “should do” lists intersected with my “want to do” list and made it clear that those items were definitely meant to be on my final job description. To my dismay, a couple of my “want to do” items did not make it into my “need to do” or “should do” lists and so I had to decide to let those things go or at least allow them to be managed by someone else.
For reference, my final job description boiled down to the following 5 items:
- Lead and mentor my team. Promote personal and professional growth, team collaboration and leadership.
- Recruit new team members. Screen candidates and discover new talent for healthy company and team growth.
- Support our business development team. Build and improve partner relationships, evaluate project proposals and provide strategic support for the company and our partners.
- Serve as a project manager. Manage the project details, schedules and team collaboration.
- Continue improving processes. Always look for improvements and do not become complacent.
Admittedly, serving as a project manager was not initially on my need to do list, but as we are a small company, we all wear many hats and so it did make it onto my should do list, as well as my want to do list. I do enjoy this part of my job and cannot serve well as a leader if I’m not with my team “in the trenches” so to speak.
Do yourself a favor and go through this exercise at least once a year to make sure your focus is being directed to the right responsibilities. Don’t just maximize your time, but maximize your work.