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Episode 077: Designing Your Ideal Day to End the Chaos
Today’s episode of the AEC Leadership Today podcast is a special solo episode walking us through a framework for how we can design our ideal day and begin the end the “chaos” that seems inherent with too much of what we do. Designing and beginning to live more ideal days also brings new energy and positions us for greater success both now and moving forward.
Designing Your Ideal Day to End the Chaos
We started Season 3 with a new and innovative approach to expanding, deepening, and diversifying our talent recruitment and retention pipeline through the use of “returnships” and we have several upcoming episodes featuring new and innovative ways to think about and approach how we work and how best to engage with, and get the most out of, our talent… which I’m really excited about!
However, before we get into those, I wanted to take some time and talk about time and time management, because our repeatedly stated “lack of time” is not only holding many of us back from taking advantage of so many new opportunities, it’s hurting us, individually and organizationally.
Managing our time and energy always has and always will be critical to our success in almost all domains, but new and different changes, pressures, and desires have brought us to a new place.
As leaders and managers especially, we need to proactively “change the game” and establish a new model for better time and energy management, and I think learning how to “design our ideal day” and then aligning it with others – to more intentionally unlock our personal and collective talent – is a great place to start.
“Our work success doesn’t need to be a career or a life ‘sentence’ to prolonged work overload and missed opportunities or, in some cases, a path burnout and burnout-induced disengagement.”
— Peter C. Atherton, P.E.
In this episode, we discuss:
- A context for thinking about the issue of time and time management in terms of what we value, our busyness, and our “asks”.
- We all have the same 24 hours in a day. We make time for what we value or, more specifically, we make time for what we are valuing. For many of us, including those on our teams and in our organizations, our values have changed. As leaders, we need to know and adapt.
- In the eyes of top talent and clients, constantly being “busy and consumed” is not a “badge of honor” – it’s become a “red flag” to people both inside and outside of our teams and organizations. Now more than ever, we need to consistently and convincingly be demonstrating our effectiveness to all stakeholders.
- Asking ourselves and others to just “put in more time” is untenable. The only exception to this is when work can be truly aligned with personal and professional goals and when the work is being done in an optimized and engaging way people truly want to be a part of.
- The five steps to designing our ideal day: accounting for our time; recognizing the chaos inherent in most of our days; defragmenting our days with timeblocking and prioritization; aligning with our teams; and iterating and fine-tuning.
- Accounting for our time ensures that we’ll have more accurate and powerful insight on build on and leverage.
- Recognizing the chaos inherent in most of our days and the changes and new norms technology has brought into the workplace, the myths of multi-tasking, and the damage that can be done if we don’t effectively manage it all.
- Defragmenting our days with timeblocking and prioritization in order to optimize our “time on” to maximize our efficiency and effectiveness, while minimizing our chances for burnout.
- The four basic timeblocks to build on and around: deep work; meetings, spontaneity and administration; and the two forms of margin.
- Aligning with our teams to get the best of and from all within our organizations.
- Iterating and fine-tuning to put the work in and get the most out of taking control and better positioning ourselves and our teams for greater success even though every day, week, month, and project will never go as planned.
“My goal today is to give us a reason, permission, and a framework to proactively ‘change the game’ and establish a new model for better time and energy management so we can end the chaos and take advantage of more opportunities to grow and prosper.”
— Peter C. Atherton, P.E.
There’s certainly more to this it does take work.
My goal with this episode is to give us a reason, permission, and a framework to proactively “change the game” and establish a new model for better time and energy management so we can end the chaos and take advantage of more opportunities to grow and prosper.
See Bio Below to Learn More About and Connect with Pete
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Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Podcast episode on Deepening and Diversifying Our Talent Recruitment and Retention Through “Returnships” with guest Heather Calvert
- ActionsProve’s strategic planning and advisory, leadership and management team development and executive coaching services
- Future episodes featuring additional new and innovative ways to think about and approach how we work and how best to engage with, and get the most out of, our talent – please stay tuned! AEC Leadership Podcast Main Page and platform links.
Other Related Resources and Podcast Episodes
- Podcast episode on The Future of Work Life with guest Ollie Henderson (who speaks to and helped me form and fine-tune approaches to better time and meeting design)
- Reversing Burnout book and resources
You can also check out our Next Level Blog article related to this episode with helpful external links HERE!
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About the Host
Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an AEC industry insider having spent more than 20 years as a successful professional civil engineer, principal, major owner, and member of the board of directors for high-achieving firms. Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process. Pete works with AEC firms and leaders to grow and advance their success through modern and new era focused strategic planning and implementation, executive coaching, leadership and management development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design.