In my coaching practice, many leaders tell me that there isn't enough time to reset and think. In fact, many executives want to refocus on creative endeavors, learn, or focus on strategy outside of day-to-day deliverables. So as a result, they feel frustrated without adequate resources or deep bench strength.  

It is typically assumed that delegation is the only way to add more time for these types of opportunities. In many cases, though, there just isn't anyone to whom you can delegate because there might not be anyone available to help. It is typically assumed that delegation is the only way to add more time for these types of opportunities.  

Here are some other options to get the work done. 

1. Try a power sprint.

Sometimes even with the best planning, there are times when a quick deadline is inevitable. In that case, think about powering through the work until it is finished, which allows room later for the creative or strategic work. 

One senior advertising executive I worked with decided to power sprint through the work by spending time alone out of the office at night with her email and phone shut off until the work was finished.  In some instances, she unfortunately had to stay up later than usual until the work was accomplished.

2. Ask which projects need to be prioritized, and work on just those.

It is important to remember that all projects don't need to be finished. Executives can falsely assume that the extra work and late nights will pay off in the future. 

I coached an executive on this very idea. She would sit down with her manager for her weekly status meeting and would leave frustrated and overwhelmed because her manager would brainstorm and share an enormous list of projects and ideas for the department.

She assumed that everything he talked about was a project with deliverables and a deadline. We worked on a new strategy where she asked probing questions such as "Which project should I start first?" She gleaned which projects were priorities and others that were just a brainstorming idea or a nice to have option for the department. 

Armed with set of questions, she was able to leave a meeting with her manager much more energized to only work on key and meaningful projects.   

3. Know that sometimes the minimal amount of work is all you need.

Over the years, leaders have been focused and trained to over deliver on client work. But in today's environment it can sometimes be more important to be agile in a quickly changing environment.  

For example, one sales executive I coached wanted to find a solution to ever-changing revisions for her client deliverables. The landscape and competition were changing drastically, and she needed a means of quickly delivering to the client on a daily basis. She figured that a document with hundreds of pages that worked in the past wasn't going to be feasible in this new environment.

To continue creating a sense of confidence with the client, she would deliver the minimum level of data. This meant refining the presentation down to twenty-five to fifty pages while still making sure to demonstrate strategy viability. With this method, she was able to deliver without a team while continuing to demonstrate to the client the value and keeping up with the ever-changing environment. This strategy gave her the time and balance to also work on her key projects.

Leaders today have more and more pressure to deliver results while balancing learning and working on interesting projects.  Unfortunately in many cases, there are limited resources to lean on for help  By creatively assessing the landscape, there are many other options to consider to get the work done while managing priority projects.

Published on: Jan 16, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.