In the workplace today, success is measured by how effective and efficient you can be with your teams. That's why many entrepreneurs choose a task-oriented approach, which can help you take on more and more--so much that it seems like nothing is insurmountable.

It's a common way to tackle productivity, and it has its value. It also isn't sustainable for you and your company. Over time, you'll start to lose your ability to think creatively. Team morale will sink.  

When I am too focused on my to-do list, my creative thinking skills can trickle to a halt. I once developed a leadership offsite program, and I focused way too much on the logistical details--plane flights, copies of the assessments, and breaks. I should have focused on more strategic issues, like how participants would react to their feedback.

With that in mind, here are three methods to help you slowly pull back on the task-oriented mentality:

Analyze Your Calendar

A good first step to help you slow down is to evaluate your calendar entries. Simply do an analysis and see where all of your time is going. Of course, we all know that it is important not to allocate every single minute of the day to meetings or other task-oriented work, but it's much harder than it seems.

One leader whom I worked with created a 24-hour calendar where he scheduled everything in 15-minute blocks. While he accomplished an immense amount of work, he didn't leave himself any blank-space thinking time in his calendar. By not leaving time on the calendar, he wasn't able to take advantage of last-minute opportunities. More important, he felt burned out and tired. 

You need to have time to sit and refocus for a bit, even for just a short amount of time. Look at your calendar and schedule some thinking time, even just 30 minutes. It doesn't need to have a specific agenda--just a short stint of time to let your mind wander.

Share Knowledge

Even if you're not overscheduling yourself, you might still be too task-focused. Maybe it seems like no one can quite do the work and tasks to your specifications. That's not healthy either.

You need to effectively train your team to take projects. Look at the entire scope of your work and set a methodical plan of addressing where you can mentor. A quick way to do this is to set up a matrix for your team and your deliverables.

This way, you can assign specific tasks and decide where to mentor each team member. It helps ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

A CMO I once worked with had too many projects, and her staff weren't ready yet to take on more responsibilities. We created a plan for each member of her team so that over time she was able to hand off more assignments. She started handing off small opportunities--signing off on low-impact budgets, for example--and it gave her the space to network with other leaders and sit on a board.

Ask Questions

Another way to lessen your task-oriented approach might seem counterintuitive: Ask more questions.

One leader I worked with saw that being directive made his team more effective and efficient--so he did that a lot. The group got a tremendous amount of work accomplished, but there were a lot of bumps along the way.

His workers didn't have a say in the workflow process, and they weren't learning to think on their own. That's because they never had a chance: He demanded such quick action that they couldn't raise points or analyze strategies more deeply.

One easy first step to coach your team in these situations is to ask the most basic questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. For example: "How did you create the budget?"  By asking a question, there are times that you might be surprised with a new creative solution that could help drive revenue or cut costs for your company.  

At certain points, it is important to be task oriented, focused and efficient. However, creating a high-functioning team can take time and mentoring. Use these tactics to help you slow down, and this will also help you be more creative as well.

Published on: Jun 24, 2019
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