10 April 2016

I am a great believer in routine or rhythm, and for someone who prides himself on being a creative free spirit, how does this seemingly juxtaposition fit into a relative complex life?

I am often asked, “How do I organise my diary?”

I suppose I have learned that the more complicated life becomes, once you schedule something into your diary, it is so much more likely to happen. This applies whether it’s a haircut, a group meeting or taking out the rubbish. If you do the same things over and over again at the same times, especially with the mundane processes, it leaves you more time to be creative in the rest of your life.

I apply this process relentlessly whether it’s my business or personal life.

Coordinating large groups of people or a complex diary is easily simplified if you apply this principal to the tasks you do week in week.

This works with “day to day” tasks, like gym sessions or other forms of exercise, family time or meetings too, but it also works on a much bigger scale across a year. Scheduling events for birthdays, holidays or special occasions, giving you things to look forward to.

View above Le Farinet, Verbier

View above Le Farinet, Verbier taken yesterday on my last day of my hols

I have a number of businesses that require the very highest standards in service being met. Whether it’s running our hotel in Verbier, Le Farinet or launching a complex cloud server at UKFast, there are processes in the background that are crucial to the success of each venture. If you leave things to chance, however small, you are likely at some point to fail. Worse still, the dreaded, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore!” or “I didn’t realise you wanted me to do that every week!” Starts to become a common phrase. 

I have always been fascinated by factories; my first ever job was in a small screen printing factory in North Wales when I was 14/15 years old. It taught me the importance of timing, the importance of having everything ready is the difference between success and failure. This is the same whether it’s a factory or with a groups of people delivering a service. You can only go at the speed of the slowest part.

It’s interesting in business how so many companies have regular meetings, yet they hold them on different times across week or month.

I think there is a lot we can learn from Schools, who have the difficult task of coordinating and managing hundreds of kids.

If you are trying to get more organised at work, this would be the first place I’d start. We call them Impact Meetings; Meetings that are so important everyone meets once a week to discuss their various challenges and report their numbers. If you don’t already have all these at the same time, I’d put a timetable in place. This gives everyone plenty of warning of when they need to be ready.

Time out skiing with the kids is the ultimate in switch off time

Time out skiing with the kids is the ultimate in switch off time

My diary these days is so full, I have even time scheduled in to do “nothing!” Haha! If someone ever told me this is how I’d be living my life 20 years ago, I’d have laughed saying that its preposterous, yet, juggling circa 10 businesses and nearly 400 people, its such a huge task and massive responsibility, I found myself working too hard and not having the discipline to switch off. Scheduling time for myself and time out to think and breathe is as important as the time working at full speed.

If you don’t have the rest you need, I don’t care how fit you are, or how smart you are, you will burn out. I have seen it many times and come close a few times myself.

I don’t know if you have ever noticed that your brain works at different levels throughout the day. I have learned this from playing huge amounts of chess at a relatively high level. There is a window in the day where I feel I can’t be beaten, or so it seems! But it doesn’t last forever, you start to tire and mistakes creep in.

I remember watching the film recently on a plane about the Master Bobby Fischer and how people asked him why he worked so hard to stay fit, and they laughed at him when he explained it was so that he’d be able to maintain his stamina when concentrating for long periods of a time.

If you are looking to improve any area of your life, be it personal or work related, I believe the first thing worth scheduling in is your exercise. Secondly rest and family / switch off time.

This is the heartbeat of your week. It should never be changed, wherever you are, whether you are on holiday or not. If you can maintain this part of your schedule, you will find yourself developing in leaps and bounds.

Getting physically fit is essential to success and much more likely to happen if you have your sessions are scheduled in to your diary.

When you are in a rhythm, things just click in to place. Everyone knows where everyone is at any given time. If you need to pop into a meeting to ask a question or listen to a department, knowing when they all meet is priceless.

In today’s busy world where we have to balance school runs and other family responsibilities, its so much easier to plan as a working parent if you have a clear week ahead that never changes.

What’s the alternative?

Well you could spend you life checking you diary with multiple other people every time you want to meet to find slots that work for everyone, but as you and your colleagues get busier, this gets harder. Have you ever found yourself in this daft circles trying to find one date that works for everyone?

You may feel that this is too regimented for you and might encroach on your freethinking, but in all honesty, I find this frees up my time massively. A little like the book “Eat that Frog” that I blogged about recently where you are encouraged to do the worst task in a list, first rather than procrastinate; these processes work. They are not designed to replace freethinking and spontaneity, they actually organise you, so you have real quality time where you don’t have negative things in the back of your mind slowing you down. They are times when other people can rely on you too.

You could take it one stage further if you are a true obsessive! Enstein supposedly wore the same clothes day in day out, when asked, he explained that he believed we have a finite amount of thinking power, so why waste it on mundane tasks, however small.

How do you manage your life? If you have any tips for me, I am all ears! I am always looking to speed up and go faster.

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