These changing times are forcing most of us to figure out how to do more with less. This means we are adopting new ways of doing things. Not only to save money but also to adjust how we serve our customers on a consistent basis. We are doing this while maintaining an insanely rapid pace in an environment of uncertainty. It is no wonder we are working harder and longer to stay on top of our game!
I will confess I am a big-time multi-tasker...always have been. The current environment has me in hyper drive. I recently came across a study that shows multi-tasking drops your efficiency by 44%. This stopped me in my tracks. I immediately internalized and asked myself, "Can I afford to have my efficiency reduced by 44%?" The answer is a big NO! Can you?
This got me thinking. Can anything be done to change this trend? I optimistically and emphatically say YES! Since I am in the middle of this personally and coaching clients who are adjusting as well, here is what I know.
Changing this trend boils down to three things:
An overused but nonetheless valid quote from Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results. Are you ready to stop the insanity? This requires determination. This is the point when you commit to change and say to yourself, "I determine that I will make the necessary change to shift my mindset and the activities that are producing the current result."This is both an internal and external commitment. This level of personal change only occurs when you are willing to be brutally honest with yourself.
Take a moment right now and ask yourself the following:
What is the mindset or belief system that contributes to my current state? i.e What do I say to myself when I think about what is going on in the world? Or with my customers? Or with the opportunities available to me?
What are the activities I tolerate that sabotage my desired outcomes? i.e. Do I know my highest payoff activities to move me toward my desired outcome? Is this where I spend my time? Do I make excuses or blame the situation, environment or other people for my current state?
A recent survey by Microsoft shows most people actually use 60% or less of available work time. This means out a 5 day work week, we have only 3 productive days. I find this statistic a little scary!
A truth that has had tremendous impact on my own calendar philosophy is from Brian Tracy's 101 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business. He states, "Every minute spent in planning saves nine in execution." Once I began to practice leveraged time scheduled around my life strategy I began to experience balance for the first time. Interestingly enough it was also while I experienced explosive growth in my business.
It has become apparent with this year's economic environment that how you leverage time requires fresh evaluation when major change occurs. When this first came to my attention I said to myself, "OK. I know what to do now. This is the logical next step." But, what I found is that the speed at which I operate in the current environment increased the challenge to make the time for this tremendously high payoff activity. And, don't kid yourself. It takes quality time to reflect at the level that truly shifts our perspective.
Here is a "behind the curtain" peek at what's going on in my operation right now. Connectworks has been growing as we adapt our offerings to the market and dig deeper in our niche. We've added new people to the team. It is crystal clear that if my calendar doesn't change I will wear myself out and not reach my desired outcome. While it is fun and exciting right now, this is not going to serve me, the team, or my customers in the long haul. And I am in this for the long haul.
I am asking myself the same questions as I challenge you:
What are truly my highest payoff activities? These are the activities that give me the greatest return on my time investment and only I can do. After all, can I afford to be 44% less efficient?
Have my core values changed? In addition to my commitment to delivering over-the-top service to my clients, I value my family, friends, continuous learning, and fun. Fun for me translates to a variety of activities from gardening to travel to watching movies.
What values and outcomes are compromised by my current mode of scheduling? My goal is to translate this to a cost either in dollars and cents or relationships to increase the pain of knowing I am continuing a behavior that no longer serves my desired outcome.
If I had an ideal weekly or monthly calendar, what would it look like? What filters would I put in place to keep the non-productive tasks or activities at bay?
It is no secret that when times change we are forced to adapt. The daily grind keeps us in denial that the only constant...is change! Now is the perfect time to stop, reflect and update your desired outcomes. What do you REALLY want? What matters most to you, right now? What is your vision of success in each area of your life? We are whole people, not just our job. It is important to view our calendar and goals from a holistic perspective. Take into account that how we do anything affects everything personally and professionally.
Ask yourself in light of these changing times, what are my desired outcomes?
Professionally? What are the desired outcome(s) for my work/career
Relationally? What are the desired outcomes from my relationships, both at work and at home?
Personally? What are the desired outcomes for me in the personal arena, financially, environmentally, etc.?
At the end of the day, these changing times prompt us to re-evaluate what matters most. What matters most to you? Your determination will create a focus that gets you out of your own way...because your time is your life. When we are on the other side of this economic cycle, what would you like to observe about yourself when you look back? Make it count.