Thursday, November 06, 2014

An Unexpected Gift of Time

Yesterday afternoon, one of our weekly client conference calls was cancelled at the last minute. Nothing remarkable about that, except the meeting organizer, who’s always very on top of things said: “Enjoy the gift of time” in her meeting cancellation notice. You don’t hear that every day.

And, it was a gift. Due to some IT issues that shut us down for half the day, we weren’t as prepared as usual for our weekly “gut check” call with this no-nonsense client. Nice folks from the midwest, but you can’t BS your way through a call with them. Suddenly, we felt we had magically “manufactured” an extra hour of time in the day. Trust me, it didn’t go to waste.

For many of us, the next 60 days will be a series of moving deadlines, delayed decisions, interruptions, weather “events,” travel delays and last minute shopping and year-end planning. You won’t know exactly when a big hole will be blown into your carefully organized schedule, but sooner or later it’s going to happen. We’ve found our most successful clients are not necessarily the ones who are the most organized; it’s the ones who can adapt the fastest to a changing landscape.  

How to cope? Tough love

If you’re expecting us to tell you to take a deep breath, count to 10, make a nice cup of herbal tea and talk a long walk, you’ll be disappointed. As regular readers know, we prefer the “tough love” approach.

So does one of clients, Gary Klaben, of Coyle Financial Counsel in Chicago.  Klaben suggests placing boundaries around yourself and your team so you can’t procrastinate or get distracted. Klaben said the simplest way to accomplish this is to get tough tasks on our schedule. Right there where everyone can see it.

Borrowing a page from Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek), Klaben only puts something on his schedule only when it’s a “Hell yes, man, I’m really excited about it!” In addition to “hard scheduling,” Klaben said you should tackle your most difficult tasks first thing in the morning. “I find that if you put those boundaries in place and really schedule things, then 80 percent of the time the task gets done,” he said. “By contrast, very little gets done if you don‘t put it on the schedule.”

A West Point grad (like his son and daughter), Klaben is clearly a disciplined guy. But he also recommends building in “focus” days, “buffer” days and even free days into your monthly and quarterly schedule. This forces you to take a step back and think. In other words spend some quality time ON the business rather than IN the business. But, if you don’t schedule those days, they ain’t gonna happen.

As many of you know, we advocate getting at least a one-month head start on your New Year’s resolutions and revisiting those goals several times throughout the year. It doesn’t matter how lofty or modest your goals are. You need tangible metrics to show progress and make them stick.

If you’re not a morning person like Klaben, don’t sweat it. Just try to figure out when you’re most productive and leverage the heck out of that time of day. For tips on how to do that, check out one of our most popular posts of 2014, The Best (and Worst) Times to Do Things at Work.


Time’s going to keep flying by; we might as well have fun adapting. Happy Holidays  (way in advance).  We also recommend Tom Friedman’s NY Times op-ed piece from yesterday, The World is Fast. He explains how the three biggest forces on the planet — the market, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law — are interconnected and why you need to pay attention to all three.
Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride. We’ve got a lot more to do before we ring in 2015.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.


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