Many parents find that they just can't get everything done they want to do because of conflicting priorities that come up with raising children. Although my kids are grown now, I definitely remember the days when there were conflicting priorities, which of course change as our families grow. We feel like we need more time in the day, and don't know where to get it. By the time the kids are in bed and you do have time, you are too tired to get to those priorities that got put on the back burner.
There are all sorts of time management articles written, that give you tips and tricks that are effective. The key of course is to implement what resonates with you.
A very simple solution I implemented many years ago, to give myself more time, was starting my day at 5 am. I had been resisting that idea for years, not being a morning person, and it took some time to adjust my internal clock, however, it is one of the best things I have implemented to get things done that were causing that stress. It is quiet, uninterrupted time that doesn't take you away from family or other business responsibilities and sets you up for the day feeling like you have accomplished so much before you even have breakfast. You are not tired out from the day, you do not beat yourself up because you finished the day too tired to do these tasks, and you get far more done with no interruptions.
The other important key is to keep the commitments you make to yourself. We wear many hats and have lots of priorities. We have careers, family obligations, personal fitness, etc. If you don't have a plan you follow to allocate your time, time does tend to get away from you. The best way I have found around that is use a daytimer, schedule every single thing that is a priority, and stick to my plan. If life happens to get in the way and you don't get to something, take the personal responsibility to reschedule it and don't let it fall through the cracks.
These are both very simple solutions but highly effective. Something else I have learned is to not overlook the simplicity of something...it is often where our solutions are found.
Last week we were receiving weather warnings for 24 hrs in advance of an upcoming storm the next day. 15 cm of snow and winds picking up to 50 km/hr. At 8 am, when people would be leaving for work commutes, the snow was already coming down hard and winds were picking up. It was clearly evident by simply looking outside, and checking the forecast, that no one should have been driving.
I spoke to an employee of a business out of town, and by 9:40 am, the employees in this business were all leaving to go back home, after being given "permission". How unfortunate that these people were not given the space to make a judgement call about the weather, and felt they had to risk the roads to go into work. How unfortunate that they were not confident enough in their own decisions. How unfortunate they chose to go in because they felt obligated and felt like they didn't have choice. There were several fatal accidents that morning. How unfortunate that those that lost their lives may have felt this way and were driving into a similar job.
These are precisely the type of things that lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction within an organization.
Why is it important to give employees the space to make good judgement calls?
-Builds trust - they will feel like doing more for a company that puts them first. They won't mind staying late for other projects down the road because they know the company appreciates them, and stands behind them.
-Builds confidence - they will perform better. When people are not given the space to make simple judgement calls, they lose confidence and this affects other areas of their performance. Build their confidence and they step into their own greatness and prove what they are capable of.
What did the snow day example demonstrate to employees?
-The decision makers couldn't make a simple judgement call before everyone risked their lives. This causes distrust.
-The company didn't truly care about their people. This causes resentment.
-Employees lives are not valued over profits. This causes disengagement and destroys company culture.
This is the reality of the message the employees feel in situations like this. They don't feel valued, they become disillusioned and distrust and resent the company.
Giving people the space to make responsible decisions helps them take ownership of those decisions, which builds their leadership, self esteem, confidence and personal responsibility. Respect and trust for the company goes up, it increases their level of happiness and job satisfaction, which leads to higher engagement and more productivity. A true win/win for both the company and the employee, which is how long term successful businesses are built.
We live in a world of schedules, often jumping from one thing to another, multi-tasking along the way. This can lead to performing tasks poorly because we are just trying to get through the long list of everything we have to do. There is a huge difference between doing something well and doing something just to get it over with because we feel we have to get to the next thing on the list. This happens in the business world as well as our personal lives. But the two worlds intermingle and sometimes our best examples are outside of business, and these remind us of concepts we may not be aware of, or may have forgotten.
This summer we watered our gardens every few days. We watered, really, because we didn't want the plants we put in to die. So, we went through the motions every few days to keep our investment from needing to be pulled out and thrown out. I can honestly say we did not water because of the love of the garden, although we both love gardening and the results it produces. Later in the summer, we were having a big event at our home and the plants were not doing too well. For the couple of weeks prior, I watered every day extensively with a bit of miracle grow in the water. It actually didn't take that much extra time, but the results were remarkable. When we watering every few days, we were trying to be efficient with our time, and were really just going through the motions and making it a "job" to complete as quickly as possible. Watering everyday with the bit of fertilizer with a defined purpose in mind of improving the look of the garden, took a bit more time, but was much more effective. Very quickly the plants took hold and exploded with growth and looked just beautiful. I had thought the reason the garden wasn't looking great was due to the plants. It wasn't the plants, it was my care of the plants.
A good reminder not to just go through the motions, but actually do things that are effective that lead to the desired end result. I look forward to next year's garden, with a renewed outlook to be more effective, and I am grateful for the everyday lessons we find in everything we do. When you are open to lessons, they spill over and benefit other areas of life as well.
We are taught the basics of proper manners and etiquette when we are growing up. Very often it seems to be forgotten in the business world. The same manners and etiquette do apply.
1. Saying thank you - Just as we would say thank you for a nice gesture in our personal lives, it applies to gestures of kindness in and out of the office.
2. Respecting peoples time - We all live in a busy world. Everyone has priorities and schedules. Be respectful of other people's time, just as you would expect that in return.
3. Be on time for appointments - Appointment times are set for a reason. The people involved are committing to setting the time aside for each other. If one party doesn't show, it has wasted the other person's time they put aside that could have been spent doing something else.
4. If you can't be on time, have the courtesy to call or make contact in whatever way possible. If you are stuck in a traffic jam, everyone has had this happen and understands. Have the courtesy to call, email or text to respect the other person's time.
5. Be authentic - Have you ever been so involved in a project that you just lost track of time and missed an important call? Have the courtesy to call and tell them what actually happened. You will be amazed at the respect this gains for being honest.
6. Do what you commit to. It helps to get organized and keep track of commitment deadlines in your daytimer. When you have things written in with deadlines, you have a visual reminder to keep you on track so that you don't get off track with other projects.
Above all, never think your time is more important than someone else's. We all have lives, commitments and schedules. Have the courtesy to be up front if you are too busy at the moment and make suggestions on what you can commit to.
Making these simple points part of who you are, builds credibility, trust and respect....that is the type of person that people want to do business with.
Debbie Ruston - Entrepreneur - International Trainer, Visionary Leader