I remember at a swimming carnival at the start of the year, we decided that we needed to get food but because there was a music festival on; Caspian and I should walk rather than drive to the supermarket. So walk we did, a total of 4.7km’s there and back to the supermarket to get some food. Caspian is only 3 and a half so it was a long walk for him. Coaching him and seeing him make the full distance made me realise that the journey to financial freedom isn’t so different to Caspian’s walk to the supermarket and back. I knew where Caspian and I had to go and what was required to do it. I knew Caspian would find it hard at some point and would require some guidance and coaching along the way. People want financial freedom and have an idea of where they want to be; but they need to get someone to help them with the directions to get there. During the journey they will need guidance, coaching and support as it is a long journey. I used a few methods of getting Caspian to keep up and make it to the end. The first one was, “Every step you take is a step closer to the pool”. So it is the same with reaching your financial goals. People sometimes think it is just one big win that will get you there. It isn’t, it is a journey and you need to take steps. Getting good advice is just about getting guidance on what steps to take so you don’t take bad ones and go backwards. That way every step you take is a step closer to financial freedom. The last method I got to get Caspian to make it to the end played on his desire to always win. I would say “Do you want to win?”, he would respond “Yes” and I would say “Then get in front and stay there”. We made it to our destination.
I often see and hear people working in their ‘off-time’ regularly. Personally, I think this is one of the worst things you can do. I believe it is important that people remember “you work to live, not live to work”. With technology, people nowadays are always connected and so it can be hard to switch off. But, one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your work, your partner, and your family is to switch off from work. This inability to switch off is even worse for small business owners. So, why is it important to switch off and only work at the right time? It is about having a balanced life and ensuring you focus your energy and attention to one thing at a time. What do I mean by this? It is about putting your phone/tablet/computer away and giving the people who are most important in your life (friends and family) the attention and energy they deserve from you. A perfect example of someone I saw not working at the right time was recently at the park. I was there with my boys (age 7 & 4). I was having a great time chasing them around and playing with them – just enjoying them as they are. And there I saw another father in the park with 2 boys of similar age. Instead of playing with them, he was on the phone with work not paying much attention to his sons. This is a perfect example of when you shouldn’t be working. He should have switched off and gave his full attention and energy to his sons. Here are a few ways where I make sure to switch off so that I am always giving my full attention and I’m always at my best: Create separate space and time for work and the rest of your life. I believe having some physical separation helps create the mental separation needed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work at home. It simply means that if you want to work at home, create a space for it. That way, when you go to that space you are “at” work and when you leave that space, you are not “at” work. Turn off your notifications. You do not immediately need to check that Facebook comment, or that Twitter mention, and even that email straight away. Allocate a specific time to go through these during the day. I personally check my emails only twice a day and deal with them then. I allocate 5 minutes a day to my Twitter and my LinkedIn. TURN THEM OFF, they aren’t that important. Make time in your working day when you switch off. I personally switch off and take a break for 5 minutes, thrice a day. This helps because it allows you to refresh yourself so that you are performing at your best.
There is NEVER enough time! WRONG! Anyone who complains about not having enough time is just making excuses. Each of us has the same amount of time as everyone else. The question is, what are you doing with it? I used to be a person who always felt there was NEVER enough time, but then I realised that what I was doing was procrastinating doing “busy” work, and doing other useless things that didn’t add value to myself, my family, my business, or my clients. After some self-reflection, some study, and perseverance, I now get my work done in the time I allocate. I also spend better quality time with my family and significantly add more value to my clients, my business, and myself. So with the realisation and the belief that I had the same amount of time as everyone else, I worked on managing my time more efficiently. Below are some of the things I have done: Work is for during work hours. So often I see people on the phone with a work ‘thing’ whilst at the park with their kids or some other activity. Come on guys, is it really that urgent to be missing out experience with your kids? Most of the time, it’s not, and can wait until the next day. The same goes with working at home during your family time. It is NOT cool, generally unproductive, and leads to a worse home life. So STOP IT! Uninterrupted time. This is a big one that a lot of professionals don’t do enough of. You should be blocking out interruptions to get things done. Uninterrupted time is best to be done 60-90 minute blocks. If you have 90 minutes to really get into your work and get things done, you’ll need a short break afterwards (5-10 minutes). If you do this, you will find that you can get a lot done in that time. More than you would think. If clients and customers call you during this time you are ‘with someone’. You are with yourself and it is a very important meeting. Checking emails. This can be a huge waste of time. If you’re like me, you might receive more than a hundred, or even 200 emails a day. Not uncommon, as it is an easy way for business to communicate and it works quite effectively. This contributes to time wasted, because people are constantly checking their emails all throughout the day and getting distracted by them. Turn off your notification and close your email program. You DO NOT need to read an email the instant it comes to your inbox. E-mail is mail so treat it like mail. Check it only once or twice a day, there is no need to check it more often than that. So turn off those notifications and that email program, get some real work done, or if you’re at home, enjoy your life with your family and friends. Meetings. The WRONG meetings can be a massive waste of productive time. What is worse about this is that they tend to waste multiple peoples’ productive time simultaneously. Change your business so that you start having the RIGHT meetings and get more productive time back. Phone Calls. Just because your phone rings doesn’t mean you need to answer it then and there. Answering or taking a call when it comes in can be highly disruptive. Most of the time, the phone call can wait. A key thing that I do is to get the person who receives the phone call (receptionist) find out when is the most appropriate time to call that person back – then an appointment is made. This stops phone tag and the disruption of productive time. DO THE RIGHT THINGS. This is the most important because there is no point saving and getting all this time back if you do the wrong things with it. So what are YOU going to do to improve how you use your time?