Are you time-poor – constantly running from one appointment to the next, juggling phone calls, managing staff, putting out fires, appeasing clients and rushing to meet deadlines?
And are you frustrated that what you really want to do ‚Äì what you NEED to do ‚Äì is get back in control of your time, and have it work for you instead of against you?
You know you need time to plan and grow your business, but finding that time is impossible with everything you’re managing.
What if I told you there was a way to get more done in no extra time?
There are tasks you perform every day that fully occupy your physical body but not your mind. Examples include exercising, cooking, driving, running errands, waiting for appointments, and even showering and getting ready for work.
These activities may only take up short spaces of time, but we often don’t use this time to its full potential.
As an example, you may spend 20 minutes (or more) in the car each way to work, frustrated with the traffic and worrying about all the things on your to-do list. Instead you could use this time to:
- listen to business audio books
- learn and practise a new language via audio
- make phone calls
When waiting for an appointment or on public transport, you could:
- read industry journals to keep abreast of trends and developments
- review documents, articles or even write emails to send later
- plan your day by reviewing your to-do list and prioritising actions
When exercising, you could:
- listen to business audio books
We even have clients who laminate their goals and display them in the shower, using personal preparation time to plan their future.
Using this time is a strategy taught by Anthony Robbins, who calls it N.E.T. time, short for No Extra Time.
Business success guru Brian Tracy is also a proponent, and suggests carrying useful reading material with you at all times, as you never know when you might be kept waiting and can use that time to your benefit.
Technology is an invaluable help with this. Any time you see an article you want to read but don’t have time, you could save it to be read offline on Evernote. Most of us carry a phone or tablet which then easily turns into a professional development tool during what would otherwise be wasted time.
In N.E.T. time you can also record voice notes for yourself or others which can be transcribed by many available apps.
We are not advocating that every minute of every day should be used for business and professional development. Down-time and relaxation is essential for your mental, physical and emotional health.
It’s important to plan for relaxation and keep it in your calendar as an appointment with yourself. There is nothing wrong with scheduling two hours a week to watch your favourite TV show, provided you truly enjoy it and get re-energised from that activity.
You may also benefit from what I call ‘tool-around time’. It’s time allocated to nothing in particular! You might use it to nap, read a novel, surf, catch up with a friend, or exercise. It’s time where you get to choose what you most feel like doing, and for which you don’t have to be accountable to anyone.
For time-poor leaders I suggest starting with an hour a week of scheduled tool-around time, and increasing it month by month. Re-energising in this way allows you to be more focused on your work at other times.
Start now by writing a list of all activities you do on a weekly basis during which you could listen to a business audio. At the very least you probably have commuting, exercise and personal preparation time available.
Then visit Audible or iTunes and download an audio book. A great one to start with is “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy, which will give you even more ideas on effective priority management.
And remember to plan time for relaxation and fun!