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Time-energy Drain: Why Does it Happen to You? 

by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE

Many of my clients experience time crunch---the word I like to use is energy drain.  We think we don't have enough time, and if you look underneath a bit, what is really being spread thin is our ENERGY.

In response to what I see my clients (and myself!) experiencing, I developed a model to help them evaluate the Underlying Dynamics of Time-Energy Drain™--this is the first step to remedying the situation.  Here is a brief outline of the THREE big areas where we give up our power and energy.  Download the free Venn diagram I created for clients to use as a reference.

Dynamic #1:  Ineffective Load Management

Simply put, you're taking on too much  work, or you haven't put in structures and systems to off-load work that is repetitive or automatic.  

Taking on too much work generally means:  a) You haven't set up simple systems, such as secretarial help, or Outlook folders, or a good filing system, or b) You don't have a clear idea what the scope of your work is--a common situation with new leaders--or c) You know what your scope of work is, but you are not protecting your boundaries around it.  

For many of my clients, "C" above is their downfall.  They acquiesce to taking on more work than they or their team can reasonably handle because they fear incurring the wrath of a boss, or earning a career "black mark"  as a "slacker."   The remedy here is to learn how to state your boundaries AND still preserve your status as a valued and productive person.  And get over the idea that you're a slacker.

Dynamic #2: Trying to Control an Outcome

The biggie is here is taking on other people's work because you think you can do it better. A related dynamic is not holding other people accountable. It takes time to outline what you expect from your staff or team member---we often don't want to take that step because we see it as time-consuming! Or we get frustrated when they stumble on the task the first time.  But, don't own the monkey!  William Oncken and Donald Wass, authors of a classic Harvard Business Review article, "Who's Got the Monkey" describe the all too common behavior of leaders who take the "monkey" of accountability off the shoulders of their staff or team, and put it on their own back.  [To obtain a copy the HBR article click here]

Get out of the habit of saying to your subordinates or team members: "Here, I'll do it myself; or "I'll take care of that for you."  Instead train yourself to ask your colleagues "What would support you in getting this completed? Where are you stuck?"

Dynamic #3 Over-preparation

I sometimes see a client (or myself) doing what I call "grinding."  Grinding is where you've already prepared the "intellectual" portion of a presentation, an article or report, but you continue to spend endless time tweaking and revising---grinding down your energy.  While being a perfectionist can have its benefits, there is the law of diminishing returns.  More importantly, it is crucial to remember that when you are asked to speak, write, or prepare a strategy, your audience is counting on your INSIGHTS.  Don't confuse a pile of data, facts, graphs and reports, for the simple few "truths" or pearls of wisdom that are coming from the intuitive side of you. Trust that your insights will be accepted without a volume of paper and flash to back you up.  Keep it simple.

Are you interested in delving more into the Underlying Dynamics of Time Energy Drain?  In March I'll hold a FREE tele-conference on this topic. (See tele-classes below) You will have an opportunity to share your own challenges in time management and see how we can resolve them using the Underlying Dynamics of Time-Energy Drain model.  In the meantime, please download the FREE diagram that I routinely give to my clients. Click here.

Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business consultant.  She is president of The Gaillour Group and director  of Creative Strategies in Physician Leadership.  Dr. Gaillour is a professional speaker on healthcare leadership, technology and cultural change.  

She can be reached at (888) 562-7289 or francine@physicianleadership.com


Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
15600 NE 8th Street, Suite B1-173
Bellevue, WA  98008
(206) 686-4205

Francine R. Gaillour, MD   ©2006 Ki Health, Inc.