It is SO easy for the day to get away from us, isn’t it?
You have plans in your head of what you want to accomplish in between meetings. You have good intentions. But, before you know it, the day is over. You haven’t made time for a) you and b) the strategic thinking leaders need to block off time for, to successfully lead an organization.
So there you are, another day gone. Not only have you not taken care of yourself, but you haven’t truly taken care of your organization.
The result: you’re stressed out and likely spending your day in the weeds, being reactionary, rather than progressive.
Your day has taken control of you.
It’s very easy to lose control of the day.
One thing I know for SURE is that if I don’t exercise first thing in the morning, I probably won’t exercise at all that day. If I lace up my sneakers, but I’m distracted by an email or a phone call, I’m toast. Before I know it, I’m eating breakfast and digging into work, and I’ll never get that run or workout in. I’ll probably sit at my desk wearing my sneakers all day. I’ll promise myself that the next free half hour or hour is going to be treadmill time, but it won’t happen. I know myself pretty well by now.
But, if I make myself do the workout before I do almost anything else, then I’ve done it, and it’s out of the way. I’ve spent that time caring for myself. Bingo! I’m good for the day, and my energy levels will be might higher as a result.
On the days when I can’t do that, I suffer – not just the physical detriments of not exercising and having low energy levels, but I also feel pretty bummed that I didn’t make the time for myself.
I’ve also discovered that I have to intentionally schedule time for thinking strategically, long-term, and big-picture about my business. If I don’t, I’ll constantly be in the weeds, in a never-ending, reactionary space, where my business doesn’t grow.
What does it all mean?
What does it all mean? It means you have to be intentional with your day – every day – and be intentional with your calendar and your time. You are constantly creating your day and your life by every choice that you make.
It’s one thing to binge watch your way through a weekend because you need some serious down time. It’s another to do that every night and every weekend of your life. There is a certain amount of “zoning out” that’s self-care. But it’s very important to pay attention to whether you’re zoning out for self-care or zoning out to avoid, anesthetize, or otherwise distract yourself from living.
More importantly, if you don’t take time out to take care of yourself, then what are you saying? You’re saying that you’re not important to your own success, and I can tell you that’s not true.
If you don’t take time out to take care of the long-term vision of your organization, then what are you saying? You surely don’t mean to suggest that the future of the organization you lead isn’t important, right? But that’s exactly what you’re saying by not blocking off that time!
So how do you “control your day?”
Control your meetings
You control your day by controlling the number of meetings you’re attending or hosting. I’ve already talked quite a bit about this subject, but essentially, you’re having too many meetings.
Control your schedule
You control your day by scheduling strategically. You control your day by paying attention to when you do your best work of each kind of work and scheduling accordingly.
My assistant has a little chart that shows when I operate best on various kinds of tasks. That way, she can schedule meetings and client sessions accordingly. She also knows that Monday at 2PM is a “sacred time” reserved solely for me to do strategic, long-term thinking about my business (I like Mondays for this kind of work, because it tends to excite me and I always want to spring into action. If I do this on, say, a Friday, I’ll be noodling about business in my head all weekend…and I prefer to take weekends for family time and be fully present with my family when I’m with them).
On Fridays, we take a bit of time to review the next week’s schedule, and if there are any unnecessary meetings, she cancels them. By this time, she’s gotten pretty good at keeping meetings to a minimum.
Control your timeline
It’s not uncommon that meetings can get away from you on occasion (that’s why in a future post, I’ll be talking about how to avoid that). Stick to the agenda. Stay on-topic. And make sure that you not only respect your own schedule, but those of the others in your meetings, and end your meetings on time. Don’t get behind and don’t make others late, either. Stick to the schedule. If you still have more to discuss when the meeting end time comes, then it’s better to schedule another one than it is to make yourself and everyone else run late.
When I allow myself to get distracted, versus focusing on my daily routine, I’m not in full control of myself. I’m not suggesting you attempt to live your life with strict perfection. No, we all need some down time and we all need times when we relax a little.
However, I am suggesting that you create a rhythm in your life that works well for you, and stick to it with some good, old-fashioned self-discipline.
But it’s really deeper than that. Beyond old-fashioned self-discipline, you need to add in some newfangled biohacking and habit-hacking.
Make it easy to stick to good habits – like my assistant knowing that Monday at 2PM is always my strategy time, or keeping my sneakers right next to my bed and putting them on the second I get out of bed. Create an environment in which you’re likely to build and sustain good habits. Create that environment with both with your life and taking care of yourself and with leading your organization.
It’s all part of the same thing, after all. Owning your day is about carefully constructing your day. It’s about building good habits so that you stay on-track and make the most out of every minute. And, it’s about making the decision to mentally stay in a space of creating your day and your life with every choice.