How to Manage Competing Demands

Having too many things on your plate can be detrimental to your success. If you want to manage competing demands in your life and business, you need a game plan. Although this might sound like common sense, business consultants say one of the biggest hurdles people face is the need for a more distinct vision or goals. Here are some tips for managing competing demands from Business in Vancouver‘s Business Excellence Series.

The 60,000-Foot View

“Many people just try to get through the day and don’t step back to take the 60,000-foot view for perspective. That’s why we hear so much about stress, time management, and setting priorities,” says Hart, a former forest industry executive who started his management consulting business years ago.

The president, CEO, and namesake of Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions Inc. agrees, noting that short-sightedness in business is far too common.

“We get so caught up in the details that we forget, if we spent more time building our business, we could do so much more,” says Vanderhaeghe. “Unfortunately, entrepreneurs tend to think things won’t get done if they don’t do the work themselves.”

How Big is the Big Picture?

So, how big does your big-picture view have to be? When and how should you switch between that broad view and focus on day-to-day activities?

“This is a skill that can be nurtured and grown. The big picture keeps people from getting overwhelmed, and the day-to-day activities need to feed into that big picture,” says Michael Walsh, owner of Vancouver-based Kaizen Consulting.

“Understanding this balance is critical to your success,” adds Hart. He recommends you engage in a visioning process to help identify business and personal goals. “You’d be surprised how many people are doing things professionally that bear no relation to what they want to achieve personally,” he notes. Constructing and adjusting your objectives over time will make you feel more fulfilled in everything you do.

Delegation, Delegation, Delegation

Vanderhaeghe explained that one of the key ways to manage your priorities is to get the right people to help you. Find a team of people you trust and thinkers who also love your business. Plus, it’ll help you avoid burnout, leaving you the energy to manage other responsibilities.

However, finding the right people doesn’t ensure harmony. If you want to see results, you must be clear in your expectations, give clear direction, and ensure your team knows how results will be measured.

Vanderhaeghe’s advice? “Always give good direction because if employees know what you want, they’ll give you what you want.”

“There is an assumption that people should already know how to delegate effectively. This stops them from learning,” Walsh explained. But delegating effectively is a skill you can learn like any other.

Managing Time and Energy

Another critical component of time management is more personal. For Walsh, it’s more about energy management.

“Everyone knows you can’t manage time, only priorities,” says Walsh. “People tend to segment their lives into little pieces and try to juggle between them in the name of balance. Rather than carving up all the segments, what if we worked more integratively? Instead of managing our time or priorities, what if we managed our energy levels?”

Walsh explained, “If my energy is high, I’m more capable of taking on different tasks. If my energy is low, it doesn’t matter how much time I set aside for a given task, it’ll be a struggle. Managing energy will pay much higher dividends than managing time.”

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