Clearly, if you are running your own business then you are not a fool. Forgive me for using the well-worn phrase as a title but it doesn’t mean we don’t demonstrate foolish tendencies all too frequently!
At the time of writing this, I’m travelling on a train from Madrid to Seville having just visited friends whom also happen to be clients. We had a great time and got an insight into life after work. He is retired at 55. He sold his business to a very well known large corporate and is now reaping the rewards with his lovely Spanish wife (who feels very English having lived in England for 20 years) and two gorgeous children as they create their new life on the outskirts of Madrid. Nothing foolish here, that’s for sure.
No, it was me who felt foolish as we sat talking over a glass of wine and he announced that he wanted to give me some advice. Surely it’s me who gives the advice? But this wasn’t financial!
His view is that I have been working too hard. The bags under my eyes must have given it away. I couldn’t disagree. He said that I’ve been great at helping others achieve the work/life balance but what about me and my family? He questioned how much time I apportion to strategic work. What many would say is time working ‘on’ the business and not ‘in’ the business. I informed him that I spend a lot of time thinking about the business. My answer revealed that all too often this occurs in time that should be demarcated as private time.
He went on to firmly suggest that I make more time during the working day for strategic work. That I should ensure that my diary is not so busy that work overspills and eats into quality time which should be earmarked for the family and other pursuits. I pushed back in part justification but fortunately I had to concede that this has been a constant battle for me over the years. I know what I have to do but doing it on a consistent basis is the challenge.
Recognise that in yourself?
My mind flashed back to a blog written by Andy Bounds only two weeks ago. He asked if a total stranger looked at your diary how stupid would they think you are? Have a go. What do you do that’s stupid? Andy suggests looking back at your diary in two weeks time and “you’ll be amazed how stupid you were to do something you did today”. What is unnecessary in your diary? Have a read of Andy’s Blog and sign up to his Tuesday Tips. They’re brilliant.
Back to Spain and our conversation; I felt less foolish than I might otherwise have done. I recognise the negative impact a busy and hectic diary can create. I now have a new PA. Her name is Louise and she is my catalyst for change. I sat down with her only two weeks ago and marked out what is sacrosanct in my diary. I now have:
No client appointments on a Friday. This day is for writing and formulating strategy for the business.
I have a maximum of two client meetings on any other day. Only one existing client and one new client.
Every 5th week, I have no client appointments at all. This is my time to implement the strategic work with both my team and external parties.
Oh and I nearly forgot…I will play golf every Wednesday afternoon. If anyone fancies joining me, you’re more than welcome… just contact Louise!
It’s too easy to be a busy fool. It’s hard to be consistent around the diary… yet, you owe it to yourself, your family, your team and your customers.