We all get distracted

Take a second to think through your workday. How much time do you spend frantically answering emails? How about making sure your employees have tasks to do? Are you frequently caught deep in the weeds of a specific project? Lost down another rabbit hole? Do you sometimes get to the end of the day unsure of the tangible progress you’ve made towards your primary objectives? This is a common experience among most managers and executives. Running an organization and being an effective leader require unique skill-sets to navigate the chaos. For managers in this new and changing digital environment, the freedom and flexibility of having remote workers brings with it the challenge of keeping employees on track without being physically present. Group meetings are uncommon, in-person conversations are much less frequent, and that nagging feeling of disconnection can trigger unnecessary stress. As a team leader, it's easy to become counterproductively reactive out of a desire to reestablish a sense of order, and to get caught up in assigning busy work that isn’t necessarily aligned to the big picture as a result.

Focusing on the “Big Rocks”

The reality is that stuff happens when you’re running a business, and sometimes being reactive is part of the job. But the big risk is losing sight of your main objectives in the process. Reactivity at the expense of keeping your primary goals on track can result in failure. To avoid this, employ a simple process:

Step 1: Define your team’s “Big Rocks”. What are the 4-5 primary long-term objectives of your business? Imagine where you want to be in 3 months - 1 year, 2 years, etc. - and determine what must be done to get there.

Step 2: Now that you’ve defined the Big Rocks, establish a time to evaluate and reflect on those goals with regular cadence. Let’s make it weekly. At the end of each week, score yourself on a scale of 1-5 in regards to how well you feel you’ve made progress on each high-level goal. Keep in mind that hours spent on a certain project don’t always equate to actually having moved closer to the goal line.

Step 3: Continue this exercise each week, or at the pace you find most beneficial. The repetition and regularity of this practice will cultivate invaluable mindfulness about your own habits as a manager. You will become more adept at realigning priorities. You will become more agile at assigning higher-level tasks to your skilled workers.

Routines are important. Adding this reflective process to your agenda may seem like extra busy-work at first, but you will quickly find that consistent refocusing lowers stress, improves your management skills, and has long-lasting positive effects on your team’s functionality.