Welcome to episode 19 of The Executive Edge. This week’s guest is Karen Leland.

Karen runs a business called The Sterling Marketing Group.  She’s written 10 books and been a consultant with countless organisations. I really enjoyed listening to her talk about time management. Her new book ‘No Nonsense Time Management’ is available on Amazon and it’s this one that we based our chat on today.

I began by discussing how some Executives try to be productive but often feel exhausted at the end of the day and unable to see what they’ve achieved. Karen feels that’s because there’s a big difference between ‘activity’ and ‘productivity’. Many people can experience ‘magical thinking’ as she calls it, a lively sense that everything they put down on their ‘to do’ list is going to get done, or even should be done. Instead, she recommends deciding what are the one or two things you really need to achieve that day and focussing all your energy on those.

What else matters?

So, I wondered if it was often the case that we are well intentioned but disorganised? She feels instead that we grossly under-estimate the impact Covid has had on people’s productivity. She likens it to a significant piece of software that must load every day, and this takes up time and energy. It is draining for everyone not just top Executives, and it means that fewer things may get done or it may just take more time to do what you want.

Does working from home help?

Working from home doesn’t automatically help either. Last year when this began, we imagined it would be fun to be at home, as there was less travel and less struggle to top and tail the day. But this isn’t the reality. Between distractions from dogs, children, and various jobs you feel you need to do, it can be tough. Especially with the inevitable difficulty finding somewhere suitable to work at home. Therefore, some people have found it more distracting, not less.

This change heralds a new way of working but will take us time to adapt. Although many of us may have begun to adapt to the monotony of our days, we may not have recognised how to put in successful boundaries. The boundaries help denote work from home life and help us identify when to stop working! Instead, Karen has noticed many of her clients working at odd times to complete tasks which we used to discourage. At one time we would think this somehow wrong because it eroded family time. However, now we might need to encourage it in the spirit of recognising things have changed. We all need freedom and autonomy to do things our way and that might mean working from 8.00pm until 1.00am or whatever it takes.

You can hear more of Karen’s tips in this episode and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Google play

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