Ever wondered why people seem to have so much time on their hands, Just look at truly great elite sports people, they make it look easy don’t they, they seem to make time stop and they never seem flustered when under enormous pressure. It’s not because they have gained an extra few hours in their day, more they have learnt to look up, take note and are comfortable when the pressure is on!
If we relate this to our work environment, how many of us are rushing!
Emails, meetings, taking calls, reading non relevant stuff whilst in that meeting, I call it not being present.
We wake up in a rush and then the rest of the day is a never ending race to get ahead. Constantly trying to keep up and then its bed time again. Where has the day gone, I hazard that many of us are just ‘doing’ and not actually ‘progressing’, sound familiar?
Well, we can slow down and we can move forwards. Welcome to this weeks career blog. I hope it helps you.
As the growing demands on our time seem to be taking on a new universe what has happened to us, why are we rushing, why are we not present and why therefore are more professionals not performing to their normal high standards?
Sure there is pressure to deliver and perform just like those sports players, so how do we keep on top of our productivity and more importantly our wellbeing.
We tend to race from one meeting to another or like the rest of the world from one Zoom meeting to another! (I think the owners of Zoom have named their product very well) Zoom!!! What is our body telling us to do when we rush around, not eating correctly, not taking care of ourselves. Why have we allowed our time management to go out of the window and therefore allow it to put us under pressure – where are our rules – the rules that allow us to enjoy what we do! Do you have any rules or are you a slave to the diary of others.
If you are one of those people who says it doesn’t apply to them, that rushing around, not being present and generally having a full on day is getting the best out of you then I challenge you to really think about what are you actually achieving!
I once had the pleasure of working alongside an accountant who was in the office before everyone and never left the office till well past the time everyone had gone home, some people held him up in aura and many including myself worried if he was ok, was he coping, was he in need of some support!
I shared a coffee with him one day and the conversation turned to work and I took the liberty of asking – are you ok? he said Nick I’ve got this, I am busy and I have got a great deal to do. I asked what can I do to help him and he looked at me in a way of saying ‘how dare you ask me that question’. We finished our coffee and headed back to the office.
A few months past and over a coffee in our favourite deli shop off Harley Street he said, Nick can you help, can you pick up some bits of work for me that I cannot get done, would you mind having a look at this and let me know your thoughts.
I was extremely surprise to say the least not because he reached out and said can you help but more importantly that our little conversation had sparked a thought in his mind, it had sown the seed in his mind. It took him a couple of months to realise that he could not carry on with the pace, something had to change.
This was not a sign of weakness but a sign of growth. I had the pleasure of speaking with him recently – he is now a partner in a CA firm, during our conversation he thanked me for that time in our ‘deli’ and for reaching out to him he uses that same approach with all his people every single day and he still reaches out to others who might be able to help him. I’d encourage us all to make sure we are supporting ourselves and others.
As you read that paragraph again ask yourself do you need some help/support to be the best you can be and if so take action, you owe it to yourself. I read a few years ago a review on productivity and it went something along the lines of ‘People who work on many things at the same time tend to be less productive than those who work specifically on one thing’. True/False what do you think!
Let’s look at an everyday example if we can.
The Dentist (scene one)
Imagine yourself sitting in the dentist chair, the last few days you have had excruciating pain in one of your teeth. You share pleasantries with your dentist and she looks into you mouth and goes ah/ha!!
Sure your hands will start to sweat and your heart rate jumps of the charts when you hear those two words ah/ha (but you know you are in safe hands)………
Your dentist gets to work and focuses 150% on you, she is taking her time to numb your mouth, takes some scans, prepares her work station before doing the exact work that is needed on your painful tooth. All the while sharing stories about her day that you have absolutely no way of engaging back to her. After about 40mins her work is done, she cleans up her work area and makes sure you are ok before you part ways. Finally the tooth is fixed – the pain has gone and you are smiling again…..
The Dentist (scene two)
You are sitting in that same chair with the same dentist and having the same pain. After sharing pleasantries the dentist takes a look inside your mouth and goes ah/ha, sure the same feelings rush over your body and you know you are in safe hands.
As she numbs your mouth the phone rings, she picks it up and starts taking to someone, (hello my mouth…..) as she sets up her area she leaves the room to fetch a cup of tea all the while you are lying their with cotton wool buds in your mouth not knowing what is going on, as she starts to get to work she is fiddling with her screen and phone to see something else….she doesn’t engage with you, doesn’t share stories or checks in with how you are going….finally your tooth is fixed and she rushes out of the room into the next room but the pain you had when you walked in had gone!
As you can see from the two examples both have the same outcome, your tooth is fixed and you are not in pain.
When you reflect on that which chair would you prefer to sit in? What works best for you? The outcome is the same but how did you feel?
This is no different to our day to day work environments, do you now chose to simple rush around or focus and be present, you have a choice.
We all work in environments where certain things need to happen and we need to be realistic during our ‘busy’ days but one thing I observe when coaching is we can put into play things that will allow us to slow down – here are some thoughts.
If like many the first thing you do in the morning is check emails – check phone.
With this approach do you think you are going to have a progressive day or have you just been ‘controlled’. Try establishing and building a habit where you leave your phone in a place like your car or draw so you can make that the third thing you do, instead of rushing to your phone to check things why not journal, read another few pages of that book you started or just reflect in on the things you are proud of. Establishing a healthy habit of starting slow can make the rest of your day extremely productive and a day that you are in control.
For me my day starts early, I am in the middle of finishing a book and I try to write before the kids get up or I find a spot in the house and enjoy a coffee with the dog thinking about what ever comes into my mind – I like this to be me time. Then I get into emails etc. What I have learnt by establishing this slow start to my day is that I am taking care of myself. Give it a go, for a couple of days and let me know how you go.
Meetings – take a slower approch
We cannot get away from the fact that meetings are an important part of nearly all our lives. How we turn up to these sets the tone. From observing many clients interact in meetings I have learnt that some of the very best leaders spend time at the very begining just enjoying each others company, talking about family and life o/s of work, they take time to really engage and be present – normally technology is left at the door and conversations happen before moving into the formalities, and at the end of the meeting they spend time reflecting on what have they achieved and setting clear expectations. Don’t be afraid to allow for conversations to occur – taking the time to engage will pay off in the long term. On the other hand I have observed meetings when people are running late, they are not present they are distracted, technology is bleeping away, there is no conversation or engagement just do this do that………is this really a beneficial use of anyones time. I encourage you to slow your meetings down – try and cover less and enjoy the conversation.
How we chose to end our day sets the tone for the following day. See what works in for you I have heard from clients who chose to switch off all technology a couple of hours before bed, read or do something none work related. We are all using a great deal of technology in our everyday working lives which is enabling us to do our work – try doing something that has no technology involved, a board game (if you are not going to war with your family) reading a book, drawing, playing music or as we head into the lighter days get out into the garden or take a walk. Or grab a pen and journal book and make a note of a few key things that you want to achieve tomorrow, putting words on a page allow them to free up your brain. This might allow you to slow the end of your day down to a less hectic pace.
Have a great end to your day – give some or all of this a go, let me know how you get on I would love to hear.