20 February 2019

Business advice - public speaking, presentation tips, how to set goals, productivityWhat does it take to get to where you want to be? As a leader, as a friend, a spouse, a parent? This is the first question you have to ask before you even start to think about productivity.

That’s my answer to one of the questions I am asked most often: how do I manage my time?

We all have the same amount of hours in the day, yet some people seem to cram so much more into their time than others. Ultimately, you have the same amount of time as Marie Curie or Albert Einstein but are you making the most of it?

For starters, you have to ask ‘what do I need to do every week of my life to work towards my goals?’ There is no point being productive if you are going in the wrong direction!
Knowing where to properly invest your time is the single most important part of productivity.

Whilst it may look from the outside in that I don’t really have much of a daily routine – every day brings something new and different – in fact, there are areas of my life that are highly scheduled.

A simple formula

I have a simple formula. In the 30 years that I have been in business, I have learned that there are some things that I simply have to do to be able to work at the level I need to. I learned very early on in my journey that every successful person I know spends a lot of time doing exercise.

Exercise gives you an opportunity to switch off from everything else around you. It gives you goals to meet and sometimes miss, which can be just as valuable a lesson. It’s a reset button. So without fail, I schedule my gym training sessions and squash into my week. No matter where I am in the world, I stick to this schedule without fail.

Just as important as exercise, is rest. You have to give your body and mind a chance to recover and recuperate.

Without fail

In the office, I have a strict schedule of senior-leader meetings. These are what we call ‘Impact Meetings’ and they happen at the same time every single week without fail, even when I am on holiday or out of the country. These are an essential opportunity to catch up about the most important things happening in the business that week. Having these meetings set in stone also cuts down on the ‘got a minute’ meetings that invariably interrupt your day. The person with whom you’re meeting knows that they have a spot in the diary to run through everything with you that they need to.

To some extent this scheduling also spreads into my home life. Being a husband and wife team obviously comes with its challenges, the main one being you can never switch off from work! That’s why we take the lesson of an old friend and have our ‘date night’ booked into the diary without fail every week.

A life lesson

I remember back when I played piano in the Midland Hotel, a man called Fred Dover would, without fail, take his wife Elsie at the same time every week to The French – an extraordinary restaurant in the hotel. Despite running Dover Shutters, they made the time every week for one another.

I’d play Elsie’s favourite song as they walked in and they would greet me like a member of the family. They showed me that it was possible to run a business as a married couple, as long as you make time for each other. Date night is an immovable part of our schedule now, and whilst we do talk about the business, work doesn’t lead our night.

Ultimately, productivity comes down to working out what is the single most important thing you need to invest your energy and time into in each area of your life, and focussing on that.

I answer this question in more depth on this week’s episode of the Mind Your Own Business podcast over on iTunes and SoundCloud.

I’d love to hear how you manage your time and schedule, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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