The ability to be an expert juggler and keep a plethora of plates constantly spinning has taken on an unprecedented importance for bosses 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 prolonger 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 in 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 to 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 good time to examine your work/life balance – and be brutally honest with yourself.
In my experience many bosses when asked “how’s life?” by their colleagues, peers, family and friends almost always say “I’m fine” – a glib and clichéd response which is often a far cry from the truth.
Harnessing the Wheel of Life diagram which covers 12 key segments of our lives including work and career, health and wellbeing, personal finances and family, answer the following questions to find out if your life is on an even keel or out of kilter:
Health & Well Being
· Are you looking after yourself as the business owner?
· Is it time you took a personal retreat?
· How fit are you for the tough challenges of a slow recovery ahead?
· Do you invest in your own learning and development?
· Are you a member of a peer group who can act as a sounding board?
· Are you feeding your mind as well as your body?
· Do you celebrate your achievements and feel proud of them?
· Are you setting yourself new goals and challenges to reenergise you?
· Are you planning micro adventures?
Work & Career
· Are you driving your business – or is it driving you?
· Do you have a go forward plan and/or an exit plan?
· If you are a family business, do you have a succession plan?
· How many true friends do you have?
· Do you take the time to keep close to them and cherish their friendship?
· Do you make the effort to get out and meet new friends to enrich your life?
· How financially secure are you for the future?
· How secure do your family feel at this moment?
· Have you discussed with them what you all want to be, do and have in ten years?
· Does your business boost your energy levels or deplete them?
· Do you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about your business?
· Could you work fewer hours without the wheels falling off?
· How happy are you – and what are you going to do about it?
· Do you have the confidence and staying power to thrive and succeed?
· Are you sowing the seed of good health to boost your immune system?
Fun & Recreation
· Do you give your brain and body a boost with outdoor training?
· Do you take at least half an hour’s exercise every day?
· What activities would set your endorphins and well-being soaring?
Home & Family
· Do you plan magical breaks with the family?
· Do you give your loved ones the time they deserve?
· Do you truly appreciate your loved ones?
· Do you and your partner set aside ‘just you’ time to reconnect?
· Do you plan how – and where – you’ll both live in your golden years?
· Do you share hobbies and interests – if not why not?
· How financially robust is your business?
· How are you investing for your future retirement?
· Have you worked out how much is enough when exiting the business?
When reviewing your responses you will know in which areas you need to improve. This will include some things you should stop doing immediately and others you should do more of. I don’t need to remind you that we only get one life and it’s up to us to take responsibility for our health and wellbeing to enable us to live it to the full.