Finding time when you don’t have any: Taking back control and finding more time as executive leaders

by Alice Gregson, Executive Director at Forum Strategy

“I don’t have time” or “I’ve not been able to find the time to do xy or z”. How often as executive leaders have we said this, particularly recently? Many of us are starved for time, working incredibly long hours and yet finding we can’t quite find the time for the things we want or need to do such as continuous professional development (CPD) or self care and wellbeing. Often feeling guilty because we might have missed something important or we’ve had to reschedule a meeting one too many times. Sound familiar?

As executive leaders, we are responsible for so much and it is, at times, incredibly challenging to keep all the plates spinning. But, if we cannot shift our mindset and start to make the time for the things (often of a strategic nature) that are, in reality, every bit as important as the day to day responsibilities of the role, we risk inadvertently affecting our performance longer term, impacting our decision making abilities through higher levels of stress¹ and worse still, risking burnout and exhaustion. Indeed, in a recent survey by LifeWorks and Deloitte Canada (released in 2021), they found 82 per cent of senior leaders reported feeling exhausted. This is clearly not a huge surprise given the challenges of the past couple of years in particular, but it does indicate the very real impact we risk if we cannot find a way to balance our time and priorities.

“Fundamentally, there needs to be a significant shift in the way we view certain demands on our time, how we prioritise responsibilities within a given time period and a large amount of self-discipline to make a change stick.”

¹In a study published in 2009 from the Association of Psychological Science, they note that “when we are stressed and need to make a decision, we are “more likely to bear in mind things that have been rewarding and to overlook information predicting negative outcomes.” In other words, these findings indicate that irrational biases, may guide our behavior during times of stress

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