As business owners, we often train ourselves to get the most out of each and every day, out of each and every opportunity. In an attempt to reach peak productivity, we schedule all of the minutes in our days and nights, and then boast about how busy we are with our hectic schedules.
In the past, I was as guilty as any other business owner when it came to maximizing time management. But this year, I've decided to jump off this well-worn path and take a different approach to running my company. This year, my motto is “Less is more." Here are four examples of how I am managing my time differently.
1. Scheduling less meetings to help boost my productivity.
In the past, whenever I traveled somewhere, I would schedule back-to-back-to-back meetings in the cities I was visiting. I would hustle from one building to the next, sometimes running late because of traffic or meetings that ran over. I would then spend my nights following up on the meetings from that day as well as answering emails, returning phone calls and dealing with issues that arose while I was running from meeting to meeting. The result wasn't an increase in productivity, but an increase in workload.
This year my goal is to schedule half of the in-person meetings I had in 2016, and to use video conferencing to stay connected with my clients and partners. I will leave more time in the day to run my business when I'm away from the office, and I will delegate more of the everyday and non-essential tasks to my assistant or other people in my company. Learning to delegate can help business owners focus on the areas of their business that actually lead to growth.
2. Taking more breaks throughout the day.
Another business sin I was guilty of in the past was not taking time to recharge my battery during the day. When I wasn't traveling or on conference calls, I would busy myself with completing tasks and pushing papers that I deemed important or urgent.
For the past month or so, I've set two alarms on my clock: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. When they go off, I get out of my chair and take a 15-minute break. Most times, I stretch my muscles and get a drink of water. Some days I will walk around the block to get fresh air. It really does work. I have more energy and better focus after adding short breaks to my day.
3. Spending less time on my smartphone.
This can be very difficult, but we need to train ourselves not to be slaves to our smartphones.
A few years ago I conducted an experiment in which I spent 24 hours without looking at my phone once. I couldn't believe how difficult it was to be untethered from a gadget. Since then, I've tried (unsuccessfully) to be less attached to my smartphone. It's one of the biggest time robbers in my day.
This year, I will turn my phone off during lunches, meetings and while spending time with my family. It will not be the first thing I look at in the morning, and one of the last things I check before going to bed. This change will allow me to be more present in my day.
4. Spending more time looking up and around.
If I am successful in breaking free from my smartphone, I should have more time to be aware of my surroundings. I want to appreciate the people I meet every day, the places I visit and the beautiful architecture that I walk past on my way to meetings. Making time for this type of unplugged observation can lead to new ideas that can help my business.
The end result of doing less is that we may find that we have more energy, more time and more appreciation for the important things in our businesses and our lives. Maybe the most productive of us won't be those who crammed the most into our day, but those who were smart enough to get the most out of it.
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