The Time Has Come to Stop Never Having Any Time!

Daniel Beaulé

I help business leaders grow their organization by living their values

Follow-up to my series of articles on the links between mental illness and work.

I was at the airport last week, checking my LinkedIn page, when I came across an article entitled “Want to free up (a lot of) time to read more? Unplug yourself from social networks!” I wanted to give it a try so I unplugged myself and read about fifteen pages in a book. Since then, I have started to listen to audio books for 30 to 60 minutes per day. This article also inspired me to write the following article on the time we spend at work.

You work 80 hours a week. For you, everything is important and you lack the resources to do everything that needs to be done.


Is that normal, healthy or even sane?

Take a step back and think about the following:

  • How did you get there?
  • Why is everything so important to you?
  • Six months from now, what will you have done differently to free yourself from this situation that forces you to sacrifice way too much time to your work?

If, after asking yourself these three questions, you are still unable to reduce your working hours, it may be because:

a)    your business model is not profitable enough;

b)    your growth plan is unclear;

c)    you find it hard to delegate;

d)    you do not know how to prioritize.

Let us quickly look at these four points.

A Business Model That Is Not Profitable Enough

In a “red ocean” environment where you have no strategic differentiator to set you apart from your direct competitors, whatever you offer is simply a commodity for your client who can compare various offers based solely on price and choose the least expensive one. Such a solution can only be profitable for you if you are a genius at managing expenses. If you are not profitable, you need to stop and think about your strategy so that you do not continue to impoverish your company. Should you stay in this industry? Should you modify your offer of service?

A Growth Plan That Is Unclear

If your growth plan is not clearly defined, how can you prioritize the most important course of action for your company? Do you know the relative cost of each revenue dollar by product line or by service type? If not, how can you emphasize your most lucrative product or service?

Having a clear growth plan allows you to concentrate on what brings your company better value and insures its future success.

An Inability to Delegate

You have to oversee everything in your company? You feel you cannot delegate responsibilities to your employees? If that is the case, what are you paying them for? Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up, writes that an inability to delegate is one of three main hurdles to growth. How can you overcome this hurdle? By aptly describing the positions you wish to fill when advertising a job opening; by measuring results more efficiently with the appropriate tools; by celebrating successes, and by promoting leadership within your team. Seems impossible to achieve? Read Verne and if you still cannot find a solution to your problem, as Verne says it himself, maybe you have a problem attracting leaders.

An Inability to Prioritize

The image above shows the important/urgent matrix, adapted and detailed very clearly by Stephen Covey. It is inspired by Eisenhower’s matrix which allows you to classify activities as to their degree of importance and urgency.

The impression of not having any time comes from the fact that so many tasks appear important and urgent when, in fact, they are either only urgent OR important.

Here are three easy tips to free more time for yourself at work (aside from unplugging from social media!):

  1. Understand what is really important and urgent. Answering an unhappy customer who posts his complaint on Facebook is both important and urgent.  Stopping everything to choose which color to paint the walls of the new conference room because the painter decided to show up this morning? Not as much…
  2. Control your time allocation. “I close my office door but people keep dropping by…”, “everybody stops me in the corridor,” Why is that so? Because you tolerate it. Your time is your most important asset and nobody should be able to take it from you without your permission!
  3. Invest in order to have a return on your time. In Procrastinate on Purpose [1], Rory Vaden, the author, proposes the Rule of 30x”. For example, if you spend a minute per day entering user names and passwords on various sites, the Rule of 30x says that if you can fix this problem by implementing a password manager in less than 30 minutes, it would be worth your while to do so. This example is quite clear since you would save 231 minutes per year, or almost 4 hours. You could then use that time to automate or delegate tasks (or you could turn your attention to real priorities).

Your time is your most important asset and nobody should be able to take it from you without your permission

And in closing, now is the time to come clean: I suffer from FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). I constantly check my work and personal emails, drop by LinkedIn and Facebook to check access stats on my publications or my click count on AdWords and, in the meantime, I click again on my Gmail window to see if I received any new messages… Do you suffer from it too?

I realized that I was losing a lot of time that way. That is why I deactivated many notifications. I also canceled my subscriptions to numerous bulletins, while the ones which truly interest me are redirected to a sub-account I can check at the right time. I am not totally cured (I do have periodic relapses!) but I manage to convince myself to come back to my priorities list in order to reach my goals.

Questions? Comments? Let us know by leaving a comment below, or contact me directly!

You may also want to read : (Using the Hawthorne Effect to motivate your troops – L’effet Hawthorne pour motiver son équipe)

[1] I recently tried an experiment and procrastinated voluntarily. And yes, it works! I waited before answering a text message from an employee asking me if I had seen a given document. Fifteen minutes later, I received another message asking me to ignore the first one. Someone had found the text in question!

You may also want to read : (Using the Hawthorne Effect to motivate your troops – L’effet Hawthorne pour motiver son équipe)

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