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Invest Time, Don't Split Time

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on Dec. 22, 2013

Most of my career I've had multiple roles in one assignment. I’ve ranged from two distinct roles to leading a host of countries with organizations scattered around the world. To manage my priorities I followed one simple rule, "Everyone is 100%."

I learned this insight the first time I had a major split in responsibility. I was both the HR manager and the Logistics/Warehouse Operations manager for a plant. What did these roles have in common? Not much.

I was honored to have the responsibility of two organizations and determined to be successful in both. But I was also secretly worried. There was almost no way to measure which role was “more important.” They were both important, and I wasn't sure what to do if I had a conflict.

I went to my former boss, Ellen for advice. I asked her how I should split my time. I thought for sure she would give me a percentage guideline to split my time. But instead Ellen said, " Each organization is 100%." I had NO idea what she was talking about. I had asked for input on how to split my time, but instead she gave me a formula for 200% of my time.

I followed her advice, even though I didn't exactly know what she meant. I decided to go into each business as if it was my only priority. When I wore my HR hat, I was 100% HR. When I was the Logistics/Warehouse Operations manager, I was 100% operationally focused. Did my time split 50-50? No. My focus changed as circumstances dictated.

Because I didn't have time to spend on every detail, I focused on developing my leaders. Group time was spent on results review and group feedback on processes. Individual discussions were focused personal effectivness. My goal in individual discussions was that each person should feel as though he or she was the only person who reported to me. As everyone developed, they had more capacity and took on more responsibility.

What seemed to be a formula to double my workload was really the formula to create more personal and organizational capacity. I learned to invest my time, not split my time, and I developed a better and more capable organization.

Take the leap. Invest in your priorities 100% at a time, and see how much more time - and capacity - you create.

Caveat: my advice only works if you have 4-5 clear priorities. 100 “priorities” is the same as zero priorities. Then once you choose your priorities, then you can invest your time.

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