Too much to do

The other day I received an email from a colleague who is the QA/Test director for a mid-sized software company. Like many of us, she’s busy–too busy. She feels like she’s running at 100 mph all day and barely has time to pause and think.

One of our most important jobs as managers is to step back and reflect on the big picture:

— How is the team doing?

— How is the work going?

— Have priorities changed?

— Has the context changed?

— Are we still doing the right work?

If you can’t find the way to the end of your work and are exhausted at the end of every day maybe it’s time to see what you can take off the plate.

Try this experiment:

Write down the strategic goals of the function/group you manage.

Write down all the work you are doing.

Now answer these questions:

Does the work you’re doing support the strategic goals?

Are you doing work that will prevent crises or dig your group out of crisis mode?

If you’re doing too much tactical work or fighting fires, you won’t have enough time to attend to strategic work or to attend to your team.

Look at the list of work you’re doing again. What can you delegate or cross off?

Tom Van Vleck adds: Years ago I learned to ask myself “what are we trying to optimize?” every 30 minutes. Because otherwise, I’d waste the next 30 minutes. March 5, 2003