Mel Savage Executive Coaching
Leading a Team

Time Management for Optimal Leadership

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Here are 4 time management strategies to prioritize your calendar and create the space to lead.

When I decided to leave corporate and start my own business, I thought it would be a simple transition.

I’m smart.

I don’t mind hard work.

I’m a high-achiever.

I figured running my business would be easier than corporate life.

🚨 Spoiler alert 🚨… It wasn’t.

Being an entrepreneur is corporate life on steroids.

I had to be braver. Scrappier. More disciplined. More vulnerable.

I had to network more. Fail more. Believe in myself more. Provide even more value.

And the hardest for me… I had to get comfortable selling my skills more.

It was a complete identity shift that took me almost 3 years to work through.

It’s like the identity shift I went through when I transitioned from individual contributor to leader.

Everything that made me successful as an individual contributor started working against me as a leader.

I kept trying to know everything. Be everywhere. Have all the answers.

I told my team how to do things the best way (which was my way).

And I kept taking on projects because that’s how I was valued in the past.

I was burning out and blowing the job at the same time.

All of this meant I had no time or energy left to do the job of being a leader to my people.

Becoming a leader is a big identity shift.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to create the space for that transition.

And by space, I mean time to be a leader. And brain space to focus.

Your Nudge this week is dedicated to planning time management for optimal leadership.

Your job as a leader is to create results by teaching your team to think. But how can you do that when you’re buried in projects and going to meetings all the time?

In this week’s post, I’m giving you 4 time management strategies you can use to prioritize your calendar and create the space to lead.

Priority #1 - Block Time For Your Personal Life

If all you do is work, you will burn out. The quality of your work will decline. And you’ll stop having fun.

Self-care is your #1 success strategy.

And by self-care I don’t mean a spa day. I mean time away from work doing things that allow you to recharge.

Because when you’re overworked and tired, your judgment is compromised. You’re less patient. You take shortcuts. And you may deliver great results (for a while). But you break things along the way.

So before anything else, plan your personal time. And make it specific things. A workout, meet friends, kiddos soccer game, etc. Put it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.

If this freaks you out – start slow with one or two things… and build up over time.

Priority #2 - Block Time for Your People

Plan 50% of your time for your people. At least.

These are your one-to-ones. Your impromptu discussions on feedback or problem-solving. Or when you communicate project adjustments or answer questions.

Your #1 job as a leader is to get results through your people. By helping them think through solutions. Not by giving them the answers in Slack.

This means investing quality time into growing them and supporting them.

Priority #3 - Block Time for Your Own Deliverables

Ideally, you don’t have many of your own projects. Maybe one designed to stretch you.

Everything else is delegated to your people. Even the things you don’t think they can handle. Even if they’ve never done something before.

Your job is to delegate the project and use it grow your people’s capacity. Instead of spending time on the project, invest that time on helping the person learn how to do the project.

They may complain they don’t have enough time. And that’s great. Because it’s another opportunity for you to coach them on prioritizing their time and managing stakeholders.

Priority #4 - Block Time for Critical Meetings Only

Meetings are your last priority. Yes, there are always mandatory meetings. But let’s be honest. At least 50% of your meetings are optional if you want them to be.

Ask your self which meetings are you going to because you want to? Or because you have FOMO? And of those meetings, which ones can be delegated or declined.

Not going to meetings is hard for a lot of people (even though you resent all the meetings on your calendar). Some people worry about being seen. Or their boss won’t approve.

My recommendation is to allocate a percentage of your time to meetings. Then prioritize what you go to. Share your strategy and rationale with your boss. Even if they have a few “suggestions,” I bet they’ll love the idea!

BOTTOM LINE: Leadership is a different job that requires a different time management strategy.

Set yourself up for success by creating the space to take care of your mind and your people. And don’t worry about changing everything overnight. Set a goal for what you want your calendar to look like and make small shifts over a couple of months.


I have 20+ years working as a leader in the corporate world. I know what you need to do. And I combine that with four years of training as a cognitive behavioral coach. I know how to help you naturally think like the leader you want to be.

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The job of a leader is completely different than the job you were doing before you became a leader. I figured it out the hard way. You don’t have to.
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