Integrity is simply the act of doing what you say you will.

Sounds simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy. Many business owners would say that having integrity is one of the core values of their business.

Many high performing business leaders pride themselves on efficiency and productivity. In short, getting things done. As service based professionals, we also want to be accessible and responsive to our clients and our teams. These two values can become a recipe for disaster if not managed well.

Just last week, I could feel the weight of the week before it even started. It was going to be a busy week of proposals, meetings, year end reviews and planning for the next quarter. Insert a few “I need a quick meeting with you” appointments and there I was at the end of the week; tired, run down and sitting face to face with several unchecked boxes on my to do list. Thirteen to be exact. I had made 13 commitments to get something done that sat unfinished. I don’t think I am the only small business owner who faces this.

This is much less common than it used to be but it was a great reminder to check myself. As much as I felt the pull to work the weekend to get caught up, I knew it was deeper than pushing through and working longer hours. I knew that 13 unchecked boxes were a visual reminder that I was not demonstrating integrity. Every box represented a missed commitment that I didn’t do what I said I would, even if no one else knew my plan.

Here are 4 keys to getting back on track to demonstrate integrity in your work and personal life.

  1. Start with a brain dump of ALL the tasks on your list. Put both your personal and work commitments on the list. Being honest with yourself about everything you set out to do can provide clarity.
  2. Review your commitments on a regular basis. When you look at your calendar, notice the thoughts and feelings that arise. If you notice that you feel overwhelmed before the day or the week starts you know that you are already fighting an uphill battle. Ask yourself, what can I dump, delegate, or delay? Cross off the tasks you will dump. Write the name of the person you will delegate to and check it off once you have communicated it to them. For delayed items, consciously move that task to the day you will address it. Interacting with your list will give you a sense of control over these tasks even if you don’t complete them yourself.
  3. As a manager or owner, you know that distractions will happen. You need to allow space in your schedule to allow for the unexpected. Book open space every day. If this block doesn’t fill, use this time to close up any unfinished tasks. Keep an ongoing list of people you want to connect with. Send a quick email or make that phone call you have been meaning to.
  4. Audit your time. Notice how many tasks are left unfinished at the end of the day and the end of the week. Many of us time block but don’t time audit. Review how much time tasks actually took compared to what you allotted. Notice how many major tasks you can reasonably accomplish in a day or week. You might also notice a pattern. When do you do your best focused work? When are meetings most productive? When do you feel most creative? When you can, follow your own natural rhythms.

Demonstrating integrity is not about showing up for everyone else and burning the candle at both ends. True integrity is leading with the best version of yourself. Integrity is delivering on the commitments you make to your family, friends, teams, and clients. Integrity is about keeping commitments to yourself even when no one else knows your plans.

Comment below on how you are managing your to do list every day. What helps you to manage the competing demands on your schedule?

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