And it usually starts with our schedules.
I remember sitting across from my slightly frazzled and yet still amazing admin pouring over the month ahead while reviewing the list of requests for my time and input. We were frantically trying to figure our how in the world we were going to squeeze everything in without requiring me to pull all-nighters for the next four weeks. She was doing her best to help me keep it all together when she could tell I was fraying at the seams.
Frantic. Frazzled. Fraying at the seams.
This mess was not working. We needed a new plan.
We stepped away and strategized. We reduced our collective stress, refocused my efforts, and streamlined my life. No more frantic, frazzled, fraying at the seams leadership. (Or at least not all the time.)
All this from simplifying my schedule. Want to try it for yourself?
Here are 3 simple systems to simplify your schedule:
1) Determine your ideal week. Using your powerful observation skills, review a typical week in your life and leadership. Notice what responsibilities and demands fall when. Consider when you have the most energy and feel most productive during the day and the week. Now look for where your time and energy are less than ideal and at a mismatch. For example, if you have the most energy first thing in the morning and yet find yourself working on projects requiring a lot of energy and focus in the late afternoon, you’ve got an opportunity for improvement. Map out a schedule that would allow for a better alignment of your time and energy with the regular responsibilities in your life. (For more info, check out Michael Hyatt’s ideal week post.)
2) Batch similar activities. Similar to the myth of multitasking, when we allow constant interruptions, our brains require extra time to shift gears. Batching allows us to stay focused and give our best to the task at hand. On a weekly basis, this might look like planning all your outside the office errands for the same afternoon. For me, it looks like having blocks of time on Tuesdays and Wednesday for appointments with my coaching clients instead of sprinkling those meetings throughout the week. On a daily basis, this could look like responding to your voicemail/email/Facebook/text messages a couple of times a day instead of as they come in. (For more info on the concept of batching, check out this post and quick video from Fast Company.)
3) Create templates for repeated tasks. If you find yourself doing something more than once, create a template to make your efforts more efficient. That request you receive at least three times a week? Customize one of your best responses to use on a regular basis. Planning a monthly event for your organization? Prepare a checklist with to-dos, deadlines, and agendas that can be referenced and revised each month. Our family has even brought this concept into our weekly dinner menu: Fish on Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Breakfast Dinner Wednesdays, etc. Templates not only reduce the number of decisions we have to make, they also save us from wasting time re-creating the wonderful wheel we already developed.
By streamlining our schedules, we give ourselves tremendous gifts: Time. Margin. Space. Flexibility. Freedom.