DiBona & Associates
DiBona & Associates

How to Get More Done with Less Stress in 2023

16.02.23 09:52 PM By Noel DiBona

Thumbs Down vs Thumbs Up

Today, leaders are stressed, burned out, and overworked struggling to get an endless amount of work done. Discover how world class leaders are conquering this challenge and are able to get more done with less stress.

Getting more done with less stress is all about maintaining focus and discipline with a plan in place. When work isn’t getting done like it should, stress in you and your team becomes a major distraction. Over time this creates an unhealthy environment by bringing everyone down to feeling like there’s too much work and not enough time to do it.

Resist going down into the weeds.

Starting the evening before writing down a list of the two to three most important things you need to accomplish the next day.

Leaders can get stuck in the “individual contributor” mode. As a result, their teams can suffer from lack of direction, or they sense the leader is too busy. Leaders cannot force their teammates to be motivated but they can create the necessary environment, so their teammates have a desire to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, to collaborate with other teammates, to independently solve problems, for example. When we are feeling like there’s too much work to do and not enough time, it’s more productive for the leader to look for ways to get the team more focused and disciplined.

Electronic communications have become distorted in many organizations and prevent key team members from doing more important work. 

Consider an email sent to a group of 12 people, most of them copied on the email for information purposes.  According to Metcalfe’s Law on the network effects of communication technologies, this one email holds the potential to create 66 interactions. That will clutter lots of inboxes.  Some good interactions, for sure.  But how many interactions are unnecessary?

Not to say that all email is bad, but most team members are being overrun by the sheer volume of email.  150 emails per day, equates to more than 35,000 emails per year.  At 100 words per email, on average, you are looking at the equivalent of 7,000 pages of 12-point font.  That’s fourteen, 500-page books!  And this doesn’t count any attachments that you have to spend time sifting through.   Obviously, no one is reading each word, but it still takes time to sift through all the emails and prioritize your follow up.

In addition to email, when you consider the amount of time spent on instant messaging, crowdsourcing applications, text messaging, and other electronic networking platforms, there is a lot of wasted time, and these disruptions exponentially grow.

And here is the kicker, with all of the communication technology available to us, a study by Bain Consulting revealed that approximately 80% of the communications are within departments.  Most of this large time consumption on e-communications has not produced more collaboration outside organizational silos!

How about dysfunctional meeting behavior?

How many times have you seen meeting participants get on their laptop or phone to send an email or text message?  How many times have you seen meeting participants step out of the room for that important telephone call?  The point is, meetings can be very costly when you add up the amount of time spent by leaders at all levels in a given organization.  We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of dollars for larger organizations.

Let’s consider an average junior manager that is going to 20 hours of meetings per week, and taking 8 hours of time to answer emails.  That leaves only 12 hours left for tasks other than meetings and communications.  There is no wonder why this time burden drags down productivity in most companies.

Here are some helpful tips to combat these problems:

  • Establish crystal clear priorities and don’t kill the team with a long list of special projects. 
  • Establish a fixed time budget for meetings.  What if every meeting conducted in your organization didn’t exceed 30 minutes?  That could save 10 hours per week for each of your teammates.  You would in effect be creating a time bank for meetings and you would see that the team would become more judicious about calling a meeting. 
  • Establish clear levels of authority to call meetings.  Highly performing teams establish rules for who gets to call a meeting.  In some organizations, lower-level managers are calling meetings that are ringing-up big costs. High-performing teams understand the cost of time and have established clear guidelines. 
  • Create guidelines for e-communications.  Leading companies have found that it is important to be more disciplined in how we electronically communicate.  They have rules and protocols for emails.  How about reducing the number of one-to-many emails and reducing the number of people being copied on the email. As a leader, if you model this behavior, it will catch on to your team. 
  • Measure the organizational load your team experiences and provide feedback to your team.  Why not measure critical variables that impact productivity, like email volume, meeting time, and meeting attendance?
  • Hold meetings that work.
  • Ask yourself, is a meeting the best way to get the job done or can we do something different that is more effective? 
  • Many meetings are held without having a specific agenda.  Meeting agendas should be clear and focused.
  • Reduce meeting time.  Particularly, for virtual meetings because participants stop paying attention after 25 to 30 minutes.  Even for in-person meetings, most people lose focus after 45 minutes.  We strongly suggest you invoke the 30-minute rule!
  • Create a decision log to capture decisions.  Why have a meeting if no decisions are made?
  • Start on time.  Idle time just increases the investment of people waiting to begin a meeting. 
  • Manage the invite list.  There should be a clear purpose of why certain individuals are invited.  Everyone attending the meeting has a reason to be there

And most importantly, take time to improve your team dynamic.

Leaders tend to become disengaged with their team when they are caught up fighting problems. That is a big mistake. At this point in time, it is important to reengage with your team in a more thoughtful manner. Fully engaging your team will provide more insight to better understand what motives your team members. Our clients have shown much success following these simple guidelines:

  • Provide your team with a purpose. This sounds very basic, but is critical. Top Ten Percent Leaders look beyond the obvious and empower the team with their true purpose – the WHY.
  • Top Ten Percent Leaders make bold decisions. They don’t waffle on important issues. Team members feel more certainty when they work for decisive leaders.
  • Open up communication. Promote open and honest communication between teammates. Don’t intervene when there is disagreement or a problem. Let your teammates experience the responsibility of doing their work.

Join us for our upcoming Seminar, Neuropsychology of Leadership: How to Get More Done with Less Stress.

Guest Speaker: Steve Swavely, Ph.D., CCP

There are 3 insights you will gain from attending this seminar:

  1. How Leaders are struggling to get all of their work done. They're stressed, burned out, and overworked trying to get an endless amount of work done.
  2. How world class leaders are utilizing neuropsychology to conquer this challenge and are able to get more done with less stress.
  3. Dr. Steve Swavely and Noel DiBona will work with you to build a custom action plan to help you utilize the power of neuropsychology to get more done with less stress.