10 February 2013

Get Your Life Back

How many people in your organisation don’t take regular lunch breaks, come in early, stay late, and take work home (often bringing it back the next day unlooked at but weighing heavy on their mind)? How many never get a clear gap of time-out, leave cellphones and PDAs on 24/7, and answer and emails non-stop even when on leave? In a phrase, how many of your colleagues many never switch off? And what is the impact on your organisation?

As I sat in one of the final workshops of the 2008 NZATD conference listening to John Hornblow from Nexus, my heart sang. He represents the tip of an increasingly large iceberg – people in the corporate world talking honestly about burnout and overload and how to fix it. ‘Stopping: facing the mountain of too much’ was the title of his session – based on his own experiences of stress and overwork. Good on you, John. The folk in your audience were clearly were as concerned as you.

I’ve been beating this drum for some years – it’s great to have company! On one point only, and it’s really just semantics, I disagree slightly with one of John’s comments. I think I heard him say: ‘It’s not about time management.’

I believe it’s everything to do with time management, but not the old style of time management. It’s not just about how to use a diary and prioritise: a focus on that alone typically has most people just trying to squeeze in more and more. However, if we usemodern time management principles we’re well on the way to fixing the problem.

To ‘manage’ our time well we need some degree of mastery in four areas. As I speak to audiences around the world I invite them (and especially my senior management and L & D audiences) to think of this outline as a diagnostic tool for future learning opportunities. Wherever you see a gap is where your attention and training budget needs to go.

Big Picture

Our Actions: Set Goals; Understand the long game; Say ‘no’ to distractions

Outcome: Make the right choices

Plan & Prioritise

Our Actions: Be Proactive; Focus on important as well as urgent

Outcome: Effectiveness

Tips & Techniques

Our Actions: Constant improvements in every task

Outcome: Efficiency

Sanity Gaps

Our Actions: Take micro as well as macro breaks; Self-nurture

Outcome:

Get your life back

© Robyn Pearce 2001 (2008)

[If you’d like an expansion of this diagram, please help yourself to my free ebook How to Master Time in Only 90 seconds]

Consider someone who’s good at only one or two of these areas. You wouldn’t want to leave them in charge of high level company affairs, would you? And suppose they’re good at the first three elements but still don’t have their ‘Sanity Gaps’ managed? I suggest that they’re still a danger to the organisation. Potential consequences? Burnout, stress and all the attendant issues we know only too well.

So – what can we do about it?

How many hats are you wearing?

Here’s the first strategy to get you started. Take a minute and write down all the roles you juggle. As well as employee or employer they might include parent, adult child of aging parents, grandparent, sibling, friend, taxi service to various child-based activities, contributor to voluntary organisations, church or community group member, sports activities, ….. How many categories do you have? And – have you put ‘self’ in there?

John mentioned energy, and I endorse that point. Around the world I’m now hearing the phrase ‘energy management’ as opposed to ‘time management’. Consider those multi-layered hats you wear – can you grade each on an energy ratio? When do you experience your highest energy? What lights you up? And what drains you? Most of our close relationships are non-negotiable (sorry, you can’t return that messy 12 year old!), but what about some of the more peripheral ones? Do you find yourself reluctantly putting in ‘time at mill’ on some of those committees or activities? Are you feeling stretched like a sick rubber band as you try to fit in yet one more obligation?

Here’s the key – minimise, simplify, cut back – until you feel in control. There are no prizes for being a martyr. If we try to do everything we’ll end up doing nothing properly. We’ll also burn out, be snappy, poor company, tired parents and lovers, and less-than-effective workers.

Instead, as my good friend and associate Lothar Seiwert, German time management specialist and author of ‘Slow Down to Speed Up’ says, ‘The time management technique of the future consists of self-management skills that give you the ability to actively shape your own life… It requires finding your own speed and rhythm. It means learning to experience time consciously and savor it. It means slowing down when doing everyday activities. Those who reduce their pace don’t work slower, they work more effectively and efficiently. In addition, they enjoy life more and have more satisfaction in what they do.

[If you’d like to get a copy of Lothar’s book, email me at robyn@gettingagrip.com. It’s not readily available outside of Germany but I can get copies.]

My recommended ‘next step’

On a weekly basis, make appointments with yourself and your loved ones for ‘me’ time – not in the spare bits of left-over time, but first – before you schedule in work matters. You’ll invoke a natural law: get your priorities right and everything flows with ease and grace. Distort them and everything you love and value eventually will suffer.

I wish you every success in ‘getting a grip on your life’.





Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.



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Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

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