Sunday, March 18, 2007

redefining time

Unless you're lucky enough to live on your own private island (and believe me, I’m saving for mine!) there must be times when almost every working person feels somewhat overwhelmed by trying to keep up with daily events.

I don’t have to list the sources of our overload. Suffice to say that most of my colleagues—and I’m sure it’s the same for you—receive between 150 and 400 business emails every day.

Many of these solicit responses, which in turn, demand further attention. And that’s before you add daily or routine responsibilities, and before you’ve carved out time for special projects, meetings, business-related travel, professional development, networking. Or that thing called a life!

For 13 years I’ve been a proponent of Stephen Covey’s old catchphrase: “Why just manage your time, when you can LEAD your life?” But the work world has changed dramatically since he introduced his Quadrant II, First Things First philosophies, and just as we upgrade technology to keep pace, we must also upgrade our thinking and re-evaluate work habits.

Like most people, I frequently work according to other’s schedules. But on days or weeks when I’m driven only by deadlines, I’ve adapted a method of redefining my time using Jack Canfield’s Breakthrough Results Time System.*

Canfield breaks his week into three kinds of days: Best Results Days, Preparation Days, and Rest & Recreation Days.

Best Results Days: On these days, you’re seeking a high return on your investment of time by spending at least 80% of the day focusing directly on your primary area of expertise, or as Canfield calls it, your core genius, i.e. the one thing you do really well and enjoy doing so much that you would do for nothing. This might be writing, speaking, teaching, painting, sculpting, coaching, filming, editing, designing, negotiating, building.

Preparation Days: Consider this as prep time, crucial to making the most of your best results days. This might include planning a new product line, developing resources, training new team members, seeking out a life coach or mentor, hiring a housekeeper, learning new skills, writing copy for a seminar, or selecting images for a marketing presentation. Assuming you have available resources, delegate anything you don’t do well or don’t enjoy doing—this will free up more time to pour into best results days.

Rest & Recreation Days: Usually the first thing we give up when we’re super busy, but vitally important for renewed creativity, mental clarity, and life balance. Adopting Canfield's rules, an R & R day extends from midnight to midnight and involves NO work-related activity whatsoever! That means you are ‘unavailable’ to clients, staff, vendors, and anyone or anything else business related. I know many who will shrug and say they simply can’t do this, and I’ve been guilty of it myself, but honestly, is the world going to stop if you take one day off? (If you answered yes to that question, get over yourself!! ;-)

The key to making any system work is to remain flexible and— keeping the big picture in mind—set clear expectations and boundaries with yourself and those who work alongside you.

In a typical week, I plan two prep days and three-to-four best results days, but as with anything, this changes week to week; sometimes day to day. And since I spend so much time hunched over a keyboard for work, I have one full day a week where I absolutely refuse to even look at a PC.

How about you: Do you ever feel like stopping the world for a day or two? And if so, how do you cope? What work/life balance tips do you have to share?

*The Success Principles How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.


kj said...

bibi, i walked away from my work last july to concentrate on writing. i am lucky my partner is willing to support us and allow me this time. (so far i have earned zero, which is not the plan.)

these days my time is flexible and unstructured. i'm surprised at the extra energy it takes to get things done in that atmosphere, though i AM loving it.

i enjoyed your post though i am not a fan of corporate business models, though i do like 'start with the end in mind'!

best wishes,

Bibi said...

KJ, good for you ... I'm sure the money will follow since you're focusing on your core genius. I think flexbility is key in anything and it's always different strokes for different folks.

Becca said...

Bibi, this is really interesting to me, although I've never really thought of myself as fitting into any kind of "corporate" time management scheme. My working life is pretty evenly split for me with the two jobs that I have - my office job which is purely a "bread and butter" job, and then my work as a musician, which is the thing I would do for free (and practically do, unfortunately!) Fitting time for writing in this mix becomes part of my rest and recreation.

And yes, I very often feel like stopping the world for a day or two. That's usually when I plan a trip somewhere I won't have internet access, which is getting harder and harder to find these days!

Thanks for sharing some interesting food for thought...

Keshi said...

Interesting post Bibi.

Well what do I do when Im totally bogged down...I just go out into my balcony, sit there with a good cup of coffee and think that this world is still wonderful.


Bibi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bibi said...

Becca, it IS getting harder to find somewhere without Internet access ... but getting away does help for sure.

Keshi, sounds like a good philosohpy to me!

Stace said...

Thanks for the tips! More and more in recent times I have been feeling exhausted and run-down. I very much need those R & R days, methinks.

Pamela said...

and yet in the end... when people gather to say goodbye, they'll remember you and your kayak.

Cazzie!!! said...

Being a nurse, mum to 4 kids and so on, I have a few things I can say have prepared me for time management.
I was in the RAAF CAdets as a kid, aged 14 to 18, this gave me skills to time manage, set goals and just try to prepare for worst case scenarios.
I use the saying, "When you work with people you cannot bet on anything going to time, but you can try to work out a time management plan at the start of your day/work shift".
I also make timeout for myself tooo.

Jennifer AKA keewee said...

I have finally made a schedule of my day/weekly chores posted it on my fridge,and figure when they are done the rest of the day is MINE. I find I get things done in an orderly manner, earlier in the day than before and now I am not second guessing "what is to be done next" AND I have a lot of spare time for my FUN things.
As for all those emails, I will not be made to feel guilty by those "pass this on to seven friends, or else etc." I choose to ignore and delete them. I think my friends have finally caught on, and do not bother to send them to me.

Ant said...

Hmm, well I don't plan according to that prescription but something similar seems to happen anyway...

Prep days are the ones I dislike the most (I generally call them "thinking days") - after a day of intense and tiring mental work, you've got absolutely nothing to show for it. However, if you're doing your shit correctly, they'll be followed by a highly satisfying glut of Best Results days...

Rest days just seem to happen too - usually motivated by mates that are demanding a bit of "Ant time"... :o) Wouldn't give these up for the world...

Kiyotoe said...

I stop time every now and's called a "sick day". When it gets a little too hectic at work and outside of work, then a healthy "sick day" is a whle 24 hours I didn't anticipate having and which I can use to catch up on tasks/chores/errands or on sleep if necessary.

Who needs a flying Delorian when you have so many sick days a year?

I sure hope my boss doesn't read your blog.

Bibi said...

Stace, defintely! We all need R&R and I hope you get some soon.

Pamela, trust you to put things in perspective, LOL.

Cazzie, sounds like a great philosophy (for a VERY busy nurse/mom/woman!!)

Kewee, I'm totally with you on gratuitous email ... who has time or the inclination.

Ant, yep, those thinking days are important ... as are your "Ant days" ;-)

Kiyotoe, I certainly hope your boss doesn't read this either! Several years back I worked for a company that allowed 4 mental health days a year ... employees could take them all at once, or as needed.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

~V--needed to see this. I've been...well...I'll tell you later, but frazzled is a good word for it since the beginning of the year, and things only promise to get crazier. Good crazy, but overworked, overwhelmed crazy too.

So I need to re-read that book. It's about time again for a system check of my work habits.


Ces Adorio said...

Bibi, I like the different categorization of days. I used to follow models of productivity. I always overdo things because I am very hyper anyway. Consider I have not sat down in front of a television for more than 15 minutes because I find the act of watching tv pure waste of time. I cannot relax when I think I can do something else while doing another activity - multitasking which in the end makes one dumb and stressed out.

So I decided to just plan the things I need to do, prioritize what is most important and make time for art. Last year was my most prolific painting year. I think I painted 37 paintings - ALAS I have a teenager, and I have no template to follow!

Anonymous said...

I haven't found a way to do it yet-stop the world that is. I work in a crazy environment and liked the notes on how to organize days but I confess, I'm not very disciplined! Maybe I should "try tomorrow" (story of my life).


Bibi said...

Yazza, sounds like a plan ;-)

Ces, WOW ... 37 paintings in a year is quite impressive. And even more impressive given that you hae a teenager at home!

Anon, I think we all have our own way of adapting to situations, but I'm always interested to see how others juggle everything. Good luck on 'tomorrow' :-)

Anonymous said...

although it may be hard to find a place without internet access.. the trick is.. leave the laptop home! Then no matter where you go you have no internet ...the second trick is to leave the cell phone home too!

Bibi said...

Deslily: defintely a good tip. Use the OFF button!