Look at your
appointment calendar. See any white space? If you're like most busy CEOs and
business professionals, you're booked non-stop for meetings, luncheons, dinners,
charity functions, planning sessions and
well, you get the idea. In between
bookings, you scramble to keep up with projects, reviews, financial reports,
investors, staff, customers and suppliers.
yet? This weariness can wreak havoc on your business. Consider
the symptoms of fatigue: lack of innovation, irritability,
reduced productivity and stress. The list goes on. And we're
frequently unaware of how run-down we're getting.
away from the industrial age to the information age and yet the work ethic
that most of us grew up with taught us to maximize work time time at
the factory or the office. Even our language reflects the inherent value judgment
of time away from work. We call non-work time "off-time" or "down-time."
of creativity, ideas and information as our most valuable resources, and the
pervasiveness of the global, 24-hour business world has changed our concept
of "time equals money." Now it's "results equal money."
And we all know that more time at the office doesn't mean more results. In
fact, it often means fewer results and more mistakes.
"white space" in your life. Build reserves of time. Create more-than-enough
time to do the things you want and need to do.
something straight first. Building a reserve of something you need in your
life is only one part of the puzzle. The other piece is to identify what's
draining your reserves. If you're pouring into the top of a leaky bucket,
you won't make much progress.
at how to create reserves of time. Many of my new coaching clients complain
of having too little time. Their "time tank" is running on empty,
so they feel uptight, frustrated, flustered, pulled in every direction and
tired. Often this is the first thing we work on together. Clearly, a reserve
of time would reduce the stress. So how do you do it?
plugging the leaks. Let go of some of the activities that are consuming your
time. Many of today's high performers seem to have a common thread: the Superman/Superwoman
ideal (i.e., taking on everything and trying to get it done by tomorrow).
failure often seems to be measured by the state of busy-ness. Face it
you can't do justice to everything at once and you often don't have perspective
of all you have going on. It's like tossing another ball to the juggler...33
at once for the average busy executive. Focus on what counts. Take aggressive
action to let go. Here are some possibilities:
go of tasks that someone else can do. Good delegation is a key skill for managers,
yet the average manager spends 45% of his or her time on tasks that could
be done by a staffer. "I can do it better and faster," you say.
Sure you can but, ultimately, you're judged on what you can cause to happen,
not just what you can do on your own. As a general rule of thumb, in non-critical
cases, if another person can accomplish a task 80% as well as you, delegate.
Let go of
your need to say "yes" to every request. Those around you will give
you all the work you're willing to take. This is true in both our business
and personal lives. Some of the most stressed people around can't say no to
the next fundraiser, the next committee, the Little League, the church, etc.
Politely but firmly say "no". Examine all the organizations where
you spend your time. Which ones can you let go?
Let go of some meetings. The typical manager
spends 17 hours a week in meetings plus 6.3 hours getting
ready for those meetings. Nearly a third of that time in meetings
is wasted. That works out to be about six full weeks a year
of useless meeting time. You've seen the symptoms: hastily
called meetings, no end time stated, no agenda, no official
record of what was done or said, no follow-up. If even one
hour per week is saved, it could mean two additional effective
workdays per year!
Let go of interruptions. Interruptions can drain
1-2 hours a day. Rather than spend time with anyone who happens
to stop by, close the door, turn off the phone or work from
home one day a week.
Let go of
the clutter. Is your desk or credenza piled with pending and unfinished work
that'll be done when you "get around to it?" The average businessperson
spends three hours each week looking for things plus two hours being distracted
by the stuff lying around. The most effective people work from a clean desk.
Having an uncluttered desk helps you stay focused on your most important project.
Let go of
useless tasks. Quit doing some of the routine things you do just because "that's
what you've always done." Practice good priority management. Plan each
day to stay focused on those tasks that will move you toward your goals. Watch
for tasks that can be delegated or simply dropped.
Let go of
crises management. Ever feel that you're leaving a trail of unfinished projects,
unreturned phone calls, unread mail, partially completed reports? Crises arise
from a job we left unfinished to work on another unfinished task. Another
term for crisis management is fire fighting.
of the meetings or send someone else.
Most of this
is really caused by losing focus of true priorities. Learn to tell the difference
between "urgent" and "important."
people pay a heavy price for their success - poor health, failed marriages,
neglected friendships, no self-development in any area except business. Start
today to plug the leaks and create ample reserves of time for yourself.
Gary Lockwood is increasing the effectiveness and enhancing
the lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.
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