Settling In & Staying Sane

I find myself with many friends and colleagues taking new roles. Myself included. This post is for all of you. Chances are you feel excited, challenged, overwhelmed, and behind when thinking about your new role. There is so much you want to do and to tackle.

You’re not alone. That feeling is completely common. I have felt this way in any new leadership role that I’ve take on. The list of things to do is always much longer than the amount of time I have to tackle it.

My Approach

This is an approach that my husband has used, and I really like it. I’ve modified it some, but it helps me to prioritize the things. Keep organized. And helps minimize the amount that I feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Step one: Make a list of everything that matters to you to achieve. The list will be incredibly long and probably scattered all over the place. Some projects and tasks will take 10 minutes, while others are complete overalls or brand new creations. No problem. Just write them down.

Step two: Categorize those tasks and projects into four lists: things to tackle in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or parking lot of things that need to happen eventually. This is where you may have to break a task up if it’s a longer task.

For example, I had complete a strategic planning process as a recent task. The 30 day task was start the process. The 60 day task was hold a retreat. The 90 day task was to write up the final plans.

Chances are — you’ll leave about half to two thirds of the tasks into the parking lot. I wanted to do more but quickly realized the list was just getting too long. They’re recorded and on your radar for future months.

Step three: Place your tasks in a way that you (and the team) see regularly. I have these in a file that my boss can access, and I have these on my whiteboard. Seeing them every day helps me balance the mission critical work with the strategic work. It also, informally, helps the team know where we’re going.

Step four: This process is iterative. I repeat — this process is iterative. There may be things that come in that slow you down with critical work tasks. There may be new priorities that pop up. Or something my take much longer. All of those are okay. It’s more important to monthly revise and adjust than it is to accomplish every single thing. Accomplishing everything — might just impact the staying sane part.

At the end of every month, I revise my 30/60/90 plan. I move things off my 60 and 90 spots into my 30 and 60 spots. I mark things off the 30 and 60, and I look at what’s in my parking lot to pull it forward. This process is a little tedious, but it is so rewarding to see all that’s been accomplished.

One Final Thought

Something I wish I’d thought of — I wish I’d created a finished list too. It is so easy to immediately go onto the next big thing that you forget all you’ve accomplished.

Self admittedly, I need to do a better job of honoring the teams I’ve worked with by celebrating all they have achieved.

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