Be honest with this question – do you ever stop working? As a business coach, I champion great use of time; and being time-effective and efficient. Time Mastery is a valuable skill to have. So often, we just have to cram more and more into our days and we want to take every moment we can. If I’m sitting and waiting for an appointment, I won’t be flicking through magazines, I’ll be doing some of my social media on my phone. There are many ways we can fill those little gaps to get things done. And we should – but not all the time.
What inspired this blog is that I am driving to a funeral tomorrow with my children and for a moment I had the thought that if one of my sons (all adult now) drove, I could take my laptop and get in 1-2 hours of work. What I quickly realised is that time with them is precious and this was, in fact, a really bad idea. Life can be short, so I should value this time with my sons.
There are times when you should not be ‘filling the gaps’, online or working. Why you may ask. We need balance in our lives. We cannot simply exist to work or run businesses. We need to have relationships with people and friends. If we have a spouse or children (old or young) we need to spend time with them. Even if you are alone, you need ‘time out’ to live, stop and ‘smell the roses’ and generally have some downtime to recharge, rejuvenate and refresh. When you are refreshed and recharged you can actually achieve far more and attain greater success.
So, do you ever stop working?
Family or Spouse Time –
This is time for the family, so that means total discipline by you. No pulling out the phone, checking messages or even taking calls. One Easter I was away with the kids at a Caravan park. I was on the phone at least 3 hours every day. (Does this sound familiar to you?) My kids asked me what was the point of us going away? They were totally right. Shortly after that, I got another phone – not so I could double the calls. Instead, I gave my work phone to the office and used the new one as a personal phone. Family, the school, my kids could call me and only the manager was authorised in the office to call me. If you don’t have team to divert calls to, have rules for yourself. Don’t do what one boyfriend used to do to me. We would be having dinner and he’d be taking calls from his clients. I never answer the phone after a certain time and I tell clients this nicely in my welcome letter; I specify my business hours so the rules are set day one.
You Time –
is as important as family time. Take time out to do things for yourself and leave the phone in the car. When I’m playing sport, exercising, cycling or doing ‘me’ things I leave the phone in the car. Give yourself those little windows of time out and I strongly recommend a ‘green day’ where you have one whole and full day when you are offline. No email, no laptop, no phone and no social media. Just switch off technology and work and get outside and live life.
are often neglected these days. I was recently at a lunch with some old friends and of the table of 10, two were regularly on their phones. (I wasn’t one of them, I promise). I have a good friend who I know is super busy but whenever we drive anywhere and she is the passenger, she is constantly on her phone instead of just having a conversation with those in the car. Sure, if I ask her a question, she will answer it, but the answer is brief and short, in order for her to get back to what she is doing. Is that inductive to maintaining a close friendship?
doesn’t always work. Perhaps you’re on the phone – you can’t also be reading and responding to emails. I knew someone who used to do this and I could hear the ‘swish’ of his email being sent but more importantly, his responses were lagged and slow; not giving me the best impression. The car (with hands-free of course) is a great place to make calls, but be careful which calls. I can easily catch up with a friend whilst driving, but I would never speak to a client or prospect, as I can’t take notes and be 100% engaged. The secondary task should also be very minor. It might be plucking weeds, but not cleaning your garage. It might be putting pens in your drawer, but not sorting your filing. It might be watering plants, but not using power tools. Multi-tasking can just mean you are doing two things at once and doing neither particularly well.
These days we are all so focussed on how to get more out of our day; we use technology to be online our entire waking day. I am sure somewhere in the future, technology will advance and we will remain online even whilst sleeping. Remember that life is short and think about what you want on your gravestone – is it ‘Beloved Father & Partner’ or ‘Here lies someone who was great at business’?