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An interesting point from the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, who lived some 2500 years ago.

And in these comparatively rushed times, something to really think about – is it really  a case of “I don’t have time”?.

All the promises of technology making our lives easier so we can have more leisure have yet to materialise, although we are starting to think seriously about 4-day work weeks and reduced commuting time (on days when we can work from home), so perhaps this will happen (it still seems that many ‘advances’ are more complicated and time-consuming for the consumer).

Probably the biggest issue, though, is learning to separate the urgent from the important as many of the tools today – like video conferencing and shared calendars make it very easy to be invited to far more meetings than are necessary.

By way of example, speaking with a friend last week who heads a technical team, he mentioned that his calendar is completely filled with meetings because he has 15 direct reports and they all want at least one meeting a week. On top of that he’s invited (read: expected) by members of the sales team to sit in on countless customer meetings, despite having next to no real input to most of them (they’re basically for information – he could read a summary in 2 minutes instead of spending 30-40 minutes in a meeting).

Most of the weekly team member meetings are also not strictly necessary – at least not for the default 30-60 minutes, as a five-minute update on progress is all that’s necessary almost all the time, but people feel they need to fill the time allocated. By allocating 5-10 minutes to these meetings, he could immediately free up at least 5 hours a week. Add a further 15-20 hours by not accepting all the sales meeting invitations (just those where there is a customer issue), and asking for a summary to read afterwards (you should always follow meetings with a brief summary / minute anyway, to ensure everyone is in accord) and half the work week has become free.

This is time that could be better employed in planning to improve processes, introduce new offerings, etc., as well as addressing any important areas of concern.

So, yes, he really doesn’t have time to do these things at present, but is he saying ‘I don’t want to’ or is it more a matter of restructuring his time better so that he can spend more time on the important stuff?

It can sometimes be hard to say no to all the sales meeting invitations and the weekly longer team member ones, but it will make everyone more efficient with their time, so ultimately everyone benefits, as does the company – those meetings where 20 people are invited “just in case” while only 5 are needed mean a lost hour for 15 people. Multiply that through the year and the cost to the business becomes significant.

As a leader, you can really help this process. Develop a culture where meetings are called for particular reasons and only the active participants are invited. Reduce the number of standard monthly / weekly meetings to an absolute minimum and ensure they’re productive in all cases for the attendees. Mandate the need for written follow-up to meetings (formal minutes where appropriate, or just a simple email confirmation of points and actions to attendees); these can then also be circulated to others who were not in the meeting.

By doing this you will not only improve productivity, but morale, too (there’s little worse than realising you can’t get to your ‘To Do List’ because you’re stuck in endless unproductive meetings) – all great for your bottom line – while the Work-Life balance of everyone, including you, will improve with the ability to focus more on the important things. You’ll be able to schedule that very important “me time” for thinking about your business into your days, too…

And, of course, people won’t easily be able to say, “I don’t have time” when asked to do something.

 

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I work with successful owner-led businesses to enhance their growth, profitability and business value.

If you’d like to have a conversation about your business objectives and concerns, book a free 30-minute call with me here. I’d be delighted to talk with you.

 

#BusinessFitness #4DayWeek #Culture #Delegation #Focus #Leadership #Management #Overwhelm #Planning #Productivity #WorkLifeBalance #QOTW

 

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