How do you know when you're the bottleneck?
You want to answer emails so completely that you delay writing them. You find yourself saying, "I know I owe you a response on that" several times a week. You leave consistently meetings with staff having made lots of promises to "think on that and get back to you." You have taken on so many things that no one on earth could respond in a timely manner to all of them.
This week, I did almost it again. I almost became the bottleneck for my one of my amazing staff members at the nonprofit I help lead.
Super simple: She needed me to review an email so that she could move forward with a time-sensitive project. I had 17,000 meetings in a row, and I was doing my utmost not to carry work stuff into my family time. I did not have a hot second to look at that email. It would have to wait. She would have to wait. The project would have to wait. I WAS FULL UP.
And as I was driving along from one meeting to another, I remembered my mission statement for myself this year at this organization: Help move things forward. Less positively: Don't be the bottleneck for your staff and your volunteers.
How could I move things forward best? By arriving on time to my next meeting? Or by being exactly two minutes late and reviewing the email that was currently serving as the obstacle to a whole lot of progress?
Because that's how long it took. Two minutes.
BUT WAIT. Boundaries are important. I particularly believe that email boundaries are important. (A new experiment is coming soon on that front.)
These days, I'm trying this test: What's the best way for me to move important things forward right now?
Sometimes the answer will be: Take two minutes to approve some text so 50 VIP invitations can get out the door, and be late for the meeting.
Sometimes the answer will be: Those invitations will have to wait because from my bird's eye view, getting some sleep/writing this grant proposal/returning this other call/showing up on time/talking to my child is the most important thing for me to move forward right now.
Try it. Right now. In the next few minutes or hours, what's the best way for you to move important things forward in your life?
And if that question leads you consider yet again what IS important in your life, you are not alone, my friend. I love you.