It would be hard to say, “I hope you enjoyed last week’s conversation about fear.” Talking about fear is not exactly an enjoyable topic. But here’s something to keep in mind. If your goal isn’t a bit of stretch – if there isn’t some (of your) skin in the game – there is little/no satisfaction in achieving it.
On to this week. There are two problems with how we work. One is the typical workday, and the other is the typical workweek. So how do we construct our own model that makes our life work better?
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Audience participation question: I get most of my new work from social networking, LinkedIn in particular. What would you want to know more about using social media to expand your practice?
If you could take the time to email me with just one thought, it would be much appreciated!
Problem #1, the workday. Much has been written about the flaws of an 8-hour/9-to-5 workday. This is one good article I would urge you to read. Not because it’s groundbreaking, but just because it reinforces what you already feel.
The bottom line: Working arbitrary hours during the day because society and the corporate world are still stuck in a factory mindset makes no sense. We’re information workers, and we don’t require daylight to do our job.
So why do we spend the best part of our days on work? Can’t we flip that around and spend the best part of our days enjoying our families and hobbies instead?
Ahhh, you say, that’s what the weekends are for!
“Everybody’s working for the weekend.” Loverboy, 1981
Problem #2, the workweek. From the article I referenced above:
Within the confines of the 8 hour workday people anticipate the weekend because they will finally be free, even if it is just for 48 hours. You really have to wonder how much of a person’s full potential is being reached when they are viewing their working environment like this. If every week you go to work anticipating the opportunity for your once a week escape, then it’s clear that the 8 hour work day is flawed.
Back in 2009, Amy and I attended a year-long program for entrepreneurs called Strategic Coach. In the first session, we were schooled on work/time management.
Strategic Coach pointed out the problem we all face in our 24/7 worlds: any day can be a workday. So for most of us, free time:
- Feels like it must be deserved after long periods of hard work.
- Is thus only acceptable when fatigue is overwhelming.
- And so it comes last.
Strategic Coach taught us to recognize that free time:
- Is a necessary precondition for periods of high achievement.
- Needs to be expanded to add enjoyment to our lives.
- And so it should come first and more often.
To orchestrate this change in mindset, Strategic Coach urged us to adopt a new time management system that revolves around the creation of free days, focus days, and buffer days.
Free Days emphasize our relaxation and rejuvenation away from all business-related activities.
Focus Days concentrate our efforts on the primary activities that create positive financial results and opportunities for our business.
Buffer Days get us ready for free days, say by delegating tasks, or prep us for focus days, say by acquiring new skills/capabilities.
So what does a schedule like this look like?
Here is a schedule of what my ideal free, focus, and buffer days look like. (You’re going to want to see this.) I say “ideal” because the schedule is something I strive for and do not necessarily hit the target on all attempts.
Here are 10 things to notice:
- My days are not day-of-week dependent. One of the luxuries of the RV life is to structure our days around weather and travel. If it’s raining, I’m most likely working regardless of the day of the week. If we’re driving, I’m not likely to be working.
- Regardless of the kind of day, my activities are broken up into three focus areas – myself, work & play, and friends & family.
- I am the most important asset I have, so my well-being comes first. I start each day with meditation and exercise.
- I try to do my creative work first thing. For me, that means writing or outlining a strategy and steps needed to achieve a goal I am working on, e.g., creating Practice Builder Academy.
- Later in the day, I do compliance work like business valuations, reviewing reports, billing, and admin.
- I only try to process emails and voice mails twice a day.
- Maintaining my presence on social media is something I do every day but free days. For free days, I schedule/automate posts in advance so that they show up even when I don’t.
- Amy and I only eat two meals a day. So “dinner” for us occurs during most other people’s lunch hours. We generally have a light snack (and wine/beer) around 7 or 8 pm.
- I call one friend or family member at the end of every focus day and buffer day. I’ll often do this while walking Ty and Buster.
- The grayed out areas in focus days and buffer days allow for spillover time – where I can catch up with tasks that took longer than expected or do more of something I am enjoying.
In real life
As the subject line of this email suggests, your current time management system could be working better. The Strategic Coach time system may solve your workday and workweek problems. Could you slide your hours forward or backward in the day to break up the 8-hour/9-to-5 grind? Could you juggle your days around to be more closely aligned with your workflow?
As with many of the topics I write about, your mileage may vary.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.