The ability to be an expert juggler and keep a plethora of plates constantly spinning has taken on an unprecedented importance for leaders and managers in today’s extraordinary business climate.
A typical week could include pitching your product or service to prospects, meeting with existing clients, researching and forecasting industry trends, troubleshooting, seeking out new markets via social media platforms, scrutinising the financials with your FD, hiring, firing and mentoring employees, networking, attending exhibitions – and keeping abreast of the incessant stream of emails.
If you are currently what I call an ‘activity junkie’ who is lurching from task to task, then you are not doing yourself – or your company – any favours. Working haphazardly loses time shifting your brain into the right gear for the next item on your to-do list, and precious minutes are wasted on logistics. Just think of the unproductive hours you’ve spent driving back to the office after an errand or digging out the research you need to answer a question.
It’s therefore no wonder that achieving a work/life balance seems an elusive goal for many bosses whose working hours and stress levels are increasing as opposed to diminishing – and whose families are fed up with their prolonged absences.
I recommend a great solution to minimise the time lost switching between different work modes which I picked up from the New York Times Small Business Summit and which offers the following simple but powerful suggestion:
- Organise your calendar into “In” days and “Out” days.
- An “In” day is one when you get behind your desk and focus on your paperwork, make phone calls and don’t leave the premises.
- An “Out” day is one where you book meetings for breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee, you schedule client visits, and run errands. It’s a day when you’re completely out of the office.
- This technique of batching similar tasks together allows you to not only reduce the time you spend running around town – but also helps you to get you in the right mind-set for the day and keep it there.
Following this fruitful formula will hopefully reap dividends – for example, by preventing you losing time waiting for your brain to settle down after a lively lunch meeting or networking event so you can concentrate on your numbers.
It will also stop you interrupting yourself when in full flow of processing paperwork to realise it’s time to leave for a client meeting that you are not in the mood for.
Just think of how you can enhance your work/life balance with the time you save. You could power up your energy levels by going to the gym or going for a walk to give yourself some ‘thinking time’, catch up with friends, make up some missed time with the family or take up a new hobby.
While you are receptive to change and to working more productively and effectively, now is a good time to examine your work/life balance. Be brutally honest with yourself and take action to achieve powerful and productive outcomes.