The thing that has surprised me the most from running the latest client Blended Leadership Academy is that many senior people haven’t yet worked out how to fit things into their schedule. If I can teach them all how do fix that, I will have done them a great service.
We all seem to be harbouring the misapprehension that our lives are full, but that’s simply not the case. We all have 168 hours each week – always have, always will. We will never get more time. It’s the same time as everyone else – heads of state, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, et al. How is it that some people fit so much into their lives, yet many are simply “too busy” to have executed something that maybe takes no more that one hour.
It comes down to the internal dialogue that so many choose to play. It seems to be fashionable to be run off one’s feet all the time. However, it’s the same people who probably waste tens of hours each week that they’re not aware of.
20 years ago, I sat down for half an hour and analysed how I spent my typical working week of 168 hours. I was a partner in a large firm of accountants, working all hours and usually stressed out, never finding time to do all this things I wanted to do. Guess what I learned? I could only find 132 hours. What on earth was I doing every week for 36 hours? A whole working week lost, hidden from my view, every week for goodness sake! Well, the answer soon became obvious. I was wasting time everywhere. I gained 36 hours every week to fit in all the things I didn’t have time for.
Now, I read a book a week, exercise for around 10 hours a week, never miss a deadline and feel completely in control of my world (most of the time at least).
Max Whitlock (GB double gold gymnast) trains 6 hours a day for 6 days a week. Crikey, how can he not only fit that in but get anything else done? Well, if he sleeps for 8 hours and trains for 6, he still has 10 full hours every day to do all he wants. Go figure.
We’re not building rockets here, I know it’s obvious, but my experience is that most people have no idea how they’re spending their time. You won’t find the time if you don’t go and look for it in the first place.
So, how about a few tools to fix you? Here goes:
- Analyse your typical week. It will amaze you how much time you waste.
- Schedule an “hour of power” in your diary at least once a week. Get away from your desk, go to the coffee shop and plan your life back into control. If you’re really manic, make it an hour every day.
- “Eat the frog” every morning. The frog is that nasty task you’ve been putting off. Plan to nail it tomorrow – get up early and before you even check your emails or have a cup of tea, work on that task until it’s complete. I bet you quite enjoy it, it won’t take as long as you thought and the rest of the day is a breeze. This habit has changed my life.
- “Just 15 minutes” – if you really can’t face the frog or can’t see a gap of one hour, start on that task on the basis that you’ll only have 15 minutes of pain. The trick is to get started and once going, you’ll probably want to keep going.
- With all tasks that come your way, if you can nail it in 5 minutes, get it done right now. If not, put the task into a “system” on a day when you can fit it in. I use a manual diary. The system will remind you on the day you have planned to implement the task and everything apart from today’s tasks are now out of mind.
If you learn to control of your time, you can fit whatever you want to into your schedule. Even all the things you tell yourself you haven’t got time for. Give it a try…