It’s not uncommon in our world to applaud workaholics. Hold them up as heroes. You’ve seen this type of highly charged entrepreneur or independent salesperson. They race around, cantankerously announcing that they are exhausted, so busy, swamped, slammed. They’ll tell you there isn’t enough time to get everything done. They think they’re successful, you think they’re successful, and they definitely seem prosperous to the world. But, if you think about it, that really doesn’t make much sense. You can only TRULY be successful if you can actually reap the benefits of your hard work.
Look, I’m probably the last one that should point fingers. I ran 60 – 70 hours a week for close to two decades, never taking a true vacation. (A cell phone or beeper was always strapped to my side.) When I began to take stock of my life, I realized that I had not taken a vacation longer than 7 days since I’d begun my commission-selling career in 1979. I’m not sure I was completely present to my wife and daughter during my go-go years. I still struggle with that now, even in semi-retirement.
As I have slowed a bit and crossed the line, joined the 50+ Club, I’ve started to look at things a little bit differently. I value my time more and place emphasis on the things that are really important to me. I’m not suggesting you lessen your commitment to your career or organization, I’m simply suggesting that it may be possible for you to strike more balance in your work and personal life. This, in turn, will even improve your work performance.
Instead of working harder, I recommend you learn to work smarter.
I start my weekdays early, enjoying how quiet everything is. I’m able to focus on the tasks that need to get done. My routine is usually to work on a few creative things such as writing blogs or editing other content. I’ll reply to the emails that have built up in my inbox. A lot gets done. I make a game out of getting task-oriented things off my ‘to-do’ list before 8:00 AM. This gives me more time later in the day for high ROI projects, calls that come in, or any unexpected issues. Because I stay highly productive during the week, I’m able keep my weekends mostly free.
Here are some thoughts on the VALUE of your time:
More Clarity/Better Judgment
It’s humorous to me when independent business owners and salespeople say that the reason they became independent is to have control of their time. The stark reality is that when you begin your sales career, new venture, or business, you’re going to have to pump harder than you ever dreamed of. I’m experiencing that very thing now. I’m learning how to write, be a paid speaker, develop coaching programs…it’s all very new and kind of daunting. There aren’t enough hours in the day. I can literally work around the clock and never whittle down my ‘to-do’ list! The more you do, or sell, the more decisions you have to make.
My experience tells me that when I slow it down on the weekend, shut off my brain for a few hours and do something fun, I’m able to develop more clarity about business issues. I find that when I take the time to reboot, I am able to make better decisions and find solutions on Monday morning.
Sunday Night LIVE
Doesn’t it SUCK to be running around on Monday morning without a clear agenda of priorities for the week? If your calendar isn’t airtight, you feel rattled and disorganized.
I hated that, so I started taking some focused planning time on Friday afternoon to look ahead to the next week and get my calendar wired. My big calendar checkpoint, however, transpired on Sunday night. I would spend 15 – 20 minutes Sunday evening, looking at my calendar, making sure I knew where I was going, what I was going to focus on. I fine-tuned. I made sure that I knew what my top 3 priorities were for the week and that those items were INKED in my calendar. At first, I thought I was the only nut-job staring at my calendar on a Sunday night until I started checking around. What I found was that most of the elite producers were doing the very same thing.
Round Yourself Out
Most hard-charging salespeople and entrepreneurs understand that passion is a vital element to becoming successful. It’s also important to follow your passion(s) outside of work. Use your weekend to explore your creative side. The activity doesn’t really matter. What’s important is to take a break. These non-work related pursuits will make you happier and a better rounded person. This is another way to re-boot. You’ll start your week with fresh batteries.
Maybe You Should Unplug?
I’m not great at meditating, but I’m learning different ways to clear my very busy head. But, it’s hard to clear your head or relax if you are tethered to your personal electronic devices 24/7. Technology has made it difficult for us to unplug. One small step you can take is to keep your devices out of your hands and in a drawer on the weekends, at least for longer blocks of time.
I recently spent some time with the best selling author, Jack Canfield. During a break, he told me that during a “FREE DAY” (for him that’s a day he does NO work) he doesn’t have any electronic devices near him. He’s truly unplugged! After one day of observing me, sizing me up, Jack told me that he didn’t think I could set down my phone and take a real free day. I’m still trying to prove him wrong…getting closer by the day. LOL!
If you think about it, most of us aren’t saving lives. A patient isn’t going to die if we miss a call or email. Everything will still be there when you get back to work. We live in a competitive world. Taking a break, some unaffected FREE TIME on the weekend will allow you to take a hard look at where you are and determine where you want to go next.
If you gain wealth, recognition, stature and power and then you lose your family what have you really gained? You work hard because you want to give yourself and your family the best of everything. Sometimes the biggest sacrifice you’ll have to make as an entrepreneur is spending limited time with your love ones. Use the weekends to spend time with them. Take time out to get together with friends and socialize. Success means nothing if you’re not able to share it with people that you love.
Even though I’m suggesting that you take time off from work during the weekend, it is also critical not to waste your leisure time on mindless activities or doing chores. So, what I’m saying here is, try to work smarter, value and use your time better. Avoid human and artificial time vampires. Quit checking your emails and unplug. Use your down time to rejuvenate rather than exhaust yourself. Running a successful business is great, but taking care of your health and your family while also doing things you love is also important.
I have a small hourglass on my bookcase in my home office in Northridge. Once in a while I’ll turn it upside down. I simply watch it as the sands drop through the small hole, at first slowly and then, at the end, the sand seems to drop faster. Then, the hourglass is still. There is no more sand, no more time.
The small hourglass is my reminder that time well spent with loved ones, doing the things that put a smile on our face, not just the pursuit of money or recognition, is by far, the most valuable commodity we have. As the old saying goes, you don’t hear a person on their deathbed say; “I wish I could go into my office just one more Saturday and clean up some files.” What they wish they could do is have one more week…heck, maybe just one more day, with the people they love, doing the things with them that were fulfilling.
If you are still not convinced that time well spent is more valuable than money, please read this poem, written by by Rinku Tiwari.
To realize the value of a year,
Ask a student who failed in the exam.
To realize the value of a month,
Ask a mother how she spends the first month with her child.
To realize the value of a week,
Ask a patient how he recovers from his illness.
To realize the value of an hour,
Ask a student who missed the class.
To realize the value of a minute,
Ask a person who missed the train.
To realize the value of a second,
Ask a person who saved you from an accident.
To realize the value of a millisecond,
Ask a person who has won the medal in the competition.
Spend your time well, and oh…please leave me a comment.