The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: “How do you manage a heavy workload?” is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
At one point or another, everyone has experienced the overwhelming paralysis that comes when trying to manage a heavy workload—and no one more so than a CEO. With offices and clients all over the world, I am constantly juggling meetings and requests from different corners of the business—and at all hours. At the crack of dawn, both Asia and Europe are waiting for answers, and after a long day in New York, California is still at it. So, what can one do when there are simply not enough hours in the day to get it all done?
Check your work style
Ask yourself if it’s you. Be sure you are sharpening your management skills and managing yourself as much as you do others. Don’t hoard the work and think that only you can complete the tasks at hand. Especially as women in the workplace, we sometimes feel inclined to do everything ourselves. We’ve been trained to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But I’ve learned that part of being a good leader is letting go and trusting in the capabilities of my team. Managing a tough workload is not an individual marathon—it’s a team sport. The more you think and act as a team, the more manageable your workload will become.
Recognize what you do best and what you enjoy most
Some projects take minutes to review, plan, and implement, while others seem to reside on that looming list forever. Tackle the efforts that you do best and share and assign the more daunting tasks with other members of the team. For example, while I love to write, I need quiet and a few hours to research and collect my thoughts, so writing op-eds, press releases, and briefings might linger on my to-do list. It took some time for me to realize that I need to collaborate with my team to make certain that we keep a quick pace, and exchange drafts back and forth.
Be effective, not just efficient
Don’t just ask how to efficiently manage a heavy workload, but think about how to do it effectively. If you focus on managing it, you’ll just plod along, maybe only improving the speed of completion a bit faster. But if you focus on doing the right things at the right time with the right amount of effort, you will create the most impact.
Former General Electric (GE) CEO Jack Welch was right when he said, “You can’t grow long term if you can’t eat short term. Anybody can manage short. Anybody can manage long. Balancing those two things is what management is.” This captures the dynamic that is essential to managing a heavy workload: Assess, prioritize, empower the team, and execute on the immediate efforts that create impact.