David Harding: How to lighten your load and reap the benefits of having your hands untied

David Harding, President and CEO, HardingPoorman Group

Are you a perfectionist? Many type-A leaders are. If so, chances are good that your perfectionist ways are keeping you from getting more done.

Perfectionism is not an enviable attribute but rather a trap. According to Kris Taylor, of K. Taylor & Associates (Evergreen Leadership), perfectionists:

● Should have all the answers
● Must do it all
● Have a fear of trying something new or improving areas of weakness
● Think that more is better
● Hesitate to ask for help
● Don’t have time to take care of themselves
● Have old files, half-finished projects and clutter
● Tend to have high-maintenance customers that divert them from ideal clients

If this sounds like you, Taylor recommends lightening your load. Release a few projects or time-intensive tasks from your to-do list. Hire a consultant to take old, unfinished projects off your plate. Give more repetitive or time-consuming jobs to others. Free yourself for the important stuff, including the projects you most enjoy.

Get down to the nitty-gritty

What does it take to be a success, to beat your competition, to be a winner?

The most common answer is hard work. Although that’s certainly part of any achievement, there’s something else at work that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

That something else is being able to decipher what truly matters. It could be the culture of the situation, comprehending what’s truly at stake to the buyer or even understanding and being able to capitalize on the mood of the event.

Whatever it is that is most important is perfected — and the rest is ignored. Both parts of this equation are difficult, but when you trust your instincts, sniff out what’s most important and seize the opportunity, you’re onto the right stuff. That’s the winner’s circle.

Become a list-maker

Work on what truly matters by making lists. I have quite a number of lists, with many next actions, projects, calls to make and big ideas. Some question my efficiency, if not my sanity.

“You’ve got so many lists. That’s just too much work,” they say.

I’m here to defend these never-ending lists. Why? Because I rarely waste time worrying or becoming distracted over forgetting a meeting, an action, callback list, date or a promise to look into something. I have my appointments, phone numbers and notes tracked in a system I trust, one that I know works for me.

The problem with most people’s systems is that their calendar is the only list they trust. More than 95 percent of what they really need to keep track of is not a set of appointments but all the things to be done in between those appointments.

Your head is not the best place to keep track of things. And finding it critical to maintain a calendar seems to me a great way to clutter. Lists leave room in your mind to be more creative and allow you to think more about the big picture. Find a way to reduce the clutter in your head and you will be less stressed, sleep better and probably enjoy life a lot more. ●

David Harding is president and CEO of HardingPoorman Group, a locally owned and operated graphic communications firm in Indianapolis consisting of several integrated companies all under one roof. The company has been voted one of the “Best Places to Work” in Indiana by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Harding can be reached at [email protected] For more information, go to www.hardingpoorman.com.