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I found this quote in one of my notebooks the other day.  It reads:

“Blessed is the man who is too busy to worry during the daytime and too tired at night.”

It was two years ago and at the time I thought this quote was what I wanted to strive for.  After a year of trying to live that way I came to a new realization.

Cursed is the man who is too busy too worry during the daytime and too tired at night because he did not make time for others or himself.

If you are a factory worker or a laborer this quote might mean that you had a successful day.  But if you are a leader this shows that your day was an utter failure. 

Many leaders are so busy being busy with things that makes it look like they are important rather than spending time on the important things.

What are the important things?

  1. PEOPLE: This is your most valuable asset as a leader.  People are what makes your business run and how you multiply yourself.  Take time to talk to your people and connect with them.  You will be glad that you did and so will they.
  2. The Important but not urgent: Too many times we flip this around and work on the urgent but not the important.  If you are constantly fighting fires that is what you will be.  If you sit back and look at the forest ahead you will be able to see the fire’s coming and put systems to prevent them.
  3. Getting away to get refreshed: Turn off your mind for a while and get refreshed away from work.  This will help you to be more refreshed and inspired at work.

Being busy is not a bad thing but when it takes you away from these important things you need for long term success you have trouble.

I have played in a few golf tournaments in the last couple of months.  It is interesting to me how many good golfers are at these events.  I am always asking people at these events how much they golf.  Then after they tell me how ever many times a week I usually do a yearly calculation and figure out how many hours that ends up being.  If you golf 9 holes 2 times a week from May until September that is 80 hours in a summer.  That is probably minimum for most avid golfers.  Man, that is a lot of time. 

I am not saying golfing is wrong or you shouldn’t do it.  I just always like to look at what I could have done with my time.  That is 80 hours I could have spent with my wife and kid, or exercised, or read 5 books.

Golfing for many is relaxing and for me it can be also.  I understand that if you are good at something that you want to keep doing it.  That may be the reason that I don’t enjoy golfing as much.  I am always amazed by the good golfers that I golf with.  But after the round it always leads me to what could have been done with all that time?

Today I am taking a staycation.  I could have gone up to the lakes but decided to start off the vacation at home.  Home can be very relaxing as long as you keep some boundaries of what you should and shouldn’t do.  This summer I have had weekend “vacations” but I have not felt rejuvenated.  So this time we are going with a different approach.  I needed some boundaries and guidelines for my staycation. 

Rules for Staycation:

  1. No doing any outside work.  Not mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, or any other thing of that matter.
  2. Keep the cooking to a minimum.  It is alright to cook breakfast and maybe some veggies for lunch.  You should be relaxing and ordering pizza or going out to eat for lunch and supper though.
  3. You must watch movies.  Get your movies ahead of time and find time to relax and enjoy them.
  4. Read many different things.  I have read business magazines, blogs, sports, and other books.  Relax and just read. 
  5. Relish the time with Spouse and Kids.  I have enjoyed spending time with my wife and also taking care of my little girl in the morning when she is most happy.
  6. Turn your cell phone and home phone off.  I did answer one or two calls earlier but have since decided you don’t answer your phone on vacation.
  7. Sleep in and take naps.  Enough said.

These are my staycation rules.  They probably will be changed but this is my first staycation. 

What would be your staycations rules?

Have you every got home from work and couldn’t remember what you did all day?  You look back and feel like you didn’t accomplish anything at all?

This happened to me the other day so I decided to take control of my days.  I decided to write down everything I did for the exact amount of time.  It took quite a bit of extra time but it was well worth it.

This is what I learned from keeping track of what I did:

  1. I spend a lot of time talking to people and should not view this as wasting time.
  2. I realized that I waste a lot of time going off on little bunny trails instead of staying on one project until completion. 
  3. I realized what percentage of my time I spent on things throughout the day.
  4. I realized if I made a list before I started the day and prioritized it I would be a lot more productive.
  5. I wasted less time looking on the internet and wasting time doing other things.

Try it for a week.  Keep track of what you do for a week then calculate where you spend your time.  Once you figure out the numbers figure out where you should be spending your time and adjust what you do and how you do it.

As a leader you need to constantly be aware of where you are spending your time.

Many people talk about how you need to start your day off right.  That is a great idea.  But if you really want to improve as a person and a leader you need to end your day right.  Your work day is what I am talking about.

What does ending your work day look like?

  • Organize your desk and things and get ready for tomorrow.
  • Make a list of the top 5 tasks you have for the next day in order.
  • Think through what happened throughout the day.
  • Think how you reacted to things and how you should have reacted to things. 
  • Make some mental notes on how you could have done things differently or how you handled things correctly.
  • Make notes of 2 people you need to praise for things the next day.

Those who start their day off right are far ahead of most but those who finish are the ones who always end up being the best.

What a crazy phrase!  I was frustrated with myself the other day and how my days were turning out.  I stopped doing the things I had worked so hard to keep myself disciplined to keep doing. 

I decided enjoyment came before discipline.

How far from the truth I was.  Discipline on the front end will lead toward a lot of enjoyment on the back end.  If you keep yourself disciplined you will get more done but also have a lot more time to have enjoyment in other things.  You will also have a lot of enjoyment in the thing you have disciplined yourself in.  No one in their right mind likes to run.  But after a while of being disciplined and running you start to see results and it starts to be enjoyable.  Not many people go out and say I want to run for fun then after weeks of running for fun they start to get disciplined.  That just doesn’t happen.

I don’t want to say stick to a routine.  Routine is a word that to me screams boring and stuck in their ways.  I would rather say stick to a framework.  Set aside certain chunks of time at certain parts of the day to work on specific things. 

For instance if you are in a retail sales job you should get most of your office computer work done right away in the morning along with communicating with employees.  This will free you up to have more time for your customers throughout the day. 

When you discipline yourself early and often then later on you can have a lot more enjoyment.  Enjoyment firsts leads to a lot of regret later.

As you go through college and in work also people wear their ability to procrastinate like a badge of honor.  I know I some times claim that I perform better under pressure. 

But are those who really truly procrastinate the successful leaders in the world.  I really don’t believe so. 

Why do leaders avoid procrastination?

  1. Others Depend on Them: Procrastination is very selfish. If you decide to do it you are making the conscious decision that you are about me instead of we.
  2. They Need to Look Ahead: They need to look at things in the future and that means looking at things that aren’t necessarily urgent but are very important.
  3. They Don’t Need to Brag: Those that are true leaders don’t need to tell others how they can do things last minute. 
  4. Preparation is Key: They prepare and plan for everything.  They think through processes and other tasks that need to be thought through well.

If we are going to stop procrastinating we need to realize how to stop doing it.  Here are ten steps to stop procrastinating by Leo of Zen Habits.

1. First make sure you really, really, really want to do it. Seriously – don’t skip this step.
2. Keep things simple – don’t mess with tools, formatting, anything, just start.
3. Make it the first thing you do today, before checking email or anything else.
4. Clear away everything that stands in the way of doing. Including turning off the Internet.
5. Just get started. Overcome the initial barrier by diving in.
6. Tell yourself you’re just going to do 10 minutes.
7. Put something you dread more at the top of your to-do list — you’ll put off doing that by doing the other things on your list. (Structured procrastination.)
8. Find something about it that excites you.
9. Forget about perfection. Just start doing it, and fix it later.
10. If you keep procrastinating, re-evaluate whether you really want to do it. Consider not doing it, or putting it on the backburner.

 

So why not stop trying to procrastinate and look ahead a little bit.  Do it before life passes you by.

How do you decide when to delegate?  Why is it so hard to delegate?

Delegation is one of the hardest things to start doing.  But once you start it can be so easy and freeing to keep doing. 

My definition of when I need to delegate:

When someone can do a task 80% as effective as you can you need to look at delegating.

Many leaders will want people to do it 100% as effective.  If you wait for that you will never start delegating some of the things that are a time drain for you. 

Why can delegation be so powerful?

  1. It keeps you looking ahead: When you delegate it helps you to focus on the future.
  2. It frees you to do more productive things:  Yes, you probably can type faster than the other person but you also can sell more or look at strategy more effectively.  Which of these is going to give you the most return?
  3. It helps others:  When you let go of things and let others do them they start taking more ownership.
  4. Reduces Stress: With less things to do their is less to do and less to worry about.
  5. You can leave work on time: You don’t have to try to do more of everything in a day.  You can be more productive by doing less and being recharged.

 

Delegation is one of the biggest multipliers you can use to transform and take your business to the next level.  Are you willing to let others help with the journey?

 

Monica Enand of Zapproved wrote a great post on how to work more effectively and efficiently with others on Zen Habits.

  1. One Decision at a Time. Do not lump several decisions into one. Break them apart and isolate them so that the team can address them individually. This will narrow the focus of any objections raised so that the discussion is manageable and can be concluded quickly.
  2. Be Transparent. Hold discussions in the open, either in person or virtually. Successful organizations put decisions in the sunlight. Closed-door agreements can fuel speculation and inhibits the group’s ability to buy-in to the agreed upon direction.
  3. Give the Facts. Be proactive about gathering the required information in advance. Data-driven decisions go smoothly and avoid injecting emotion which will muddle the process. People need data, whether it’s research, budgets, timelines. Provide so they don’t have to come back and request it later.
  4. Minimize Participants. Include people on the decision that need to be there. If others have an interest, you can copy them but don’t invite them. Ask yourself if a person’s objection would stop the project. If not, then don’t include them.
  5. Subtract Words. Use the fewest words necessary to convey the proposal. Your team will absorb the scope, but extraneous details will dilute the message and might distract from your main objective.
  6. Be Clear What “Yes” Means. It sounds obvious, but when creating a proposal, create a proposal. Request in a crisp way and use actionable language. This is a common mistake. Add focus and formality as needed in the Subject line and in the message itself. Don’t say “let me know what you think” when you mean “do you approve this project.”
  7. Record the Decision. Seems simple but is hard to do, especially in email. There is a reason boards of directors keep minutes. People will take the decision seriously and will abide by it if they know it is saved in a place that is public. Think about a document or folder on an intranet or on the web where the agreement is recorded. Even if it is not referenced, the simple fact of know it exists will create peer pressure and accountability that is powerful.

I thought this list was awesome!  And summed up why decisions never really get made in a lot of organizations.  It is because we do not look at simplifying the process.  We don’t put a system such as this in place to help guide us and make it easier.  I especially thought the point that you need to minimize people there.  Only have the people at the meeting that need to be at the meeting.  Too many times you try to keep everyone happy by having everyone there.  In doing that you are way more unproductive.

Monica also said in the article:

Noted tech blogger Robert Scoble suggested last October that the number of emails required to get something done is equal to the number of people involved squared, i.e. eight people results in 64 emails.

Email is very nice to have but also can be one of the biggest time wasters if not used correctly.

 

Do you have systems in place to make sure you stay on track?  Or do you just fly by the seat of your pants following some mission statement or vision?

Matt from What’s Best Next had a post you should check out on Systems.

I love systems and are a big part of the fabric of what I believe.  I am around too many people in life that have great intentions but have no systems to harness their ideas.  The most creative people need to have systems so they can get the most of their abilities.

The greatest intentions are only as good as the most basic systems.

The best people and businesses are the ones who do the simplest things with excellence. 

So what should you have systems for in your life?

  • Your Daily Routine: You should be pretty close to clockwork on each day to be the most efficient. 
  • Your Ideas: All of your ideas should have a place they get recorded so you don’t forget them.
  • To Do List: Have a system whether it is over the internet, on your computer, a paper system or a combination of them.  Have a way to keep track of things you need to get done.
  • Goals: Review goals weekly or monthly and have a reminder of when to review them. 
  • Encouragement:   This should flow naturally but maybe set aside a certain time each day or once a week to write notes or tell people what they are doing.

I just became a dad for the first time 2 months ago and it is amazing how a system is way more effective for babies.  I don’t think we really change that much with age.

What type of systems do you use?