Creating The Space To Do Your Best Work
One of the complaints I hear regularly from business owners is not having enough time. Often what they mean by this is they feel like they don't have enough space. And this leads to them feeling overwhelmed.
I believe space is an absolute prerequisite if we are to do our best work.
Creativity, clarity and space are intimately connected. We need all three if we are to make the best decisions for our business. Space isn't always valued in our culture, and too often is relegated to holidays and weekends away. The trouble is it's all too easy to forget to make space for much-needed holidays and time-off when you're working hard on developing and building your business.
We live in a time when the need for space is even more prevalent. Our culture and technology has shifted so much that we are losing time and space, despite the plethora of apps and devices. So many things fight for our attention, creating constant interruptions and cluttering up our inbox, our calendar, our social media accounts.
In Monday's article, The Power Of Setting New Year Priorities, I shared the four key words I am measuring my decisions by this year. The first word is margin. By more margin, what I mean in effect is more space. More space to think about the best ways to help my clients achieve their goals and aspirations. More space to think creatively about my own business. More space to write. More space to pursue my own interests and hobbies. More space for lazy days on the beach, day trips and holidays.
Here are 8 ways that are helping me to create the space to do my best work in my business. I hope some of these will help you to have a focused and productive year in 2019.
1. A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
Nothing sets me up for a productive day to do my best work like a good night’s sleep. I wake up feeling rested, with a positive mindset, ready to power through the day. Sleep gives our brain the chance to process the day’s events, rest and repair itself.
My best night’s sleep come after I’ve done a short 30 minute restorative yoga practice. That's because yoga has a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. I mix up my practice with classes from online yoga studio, Glo, or a YouTube video from Adriene Mischler. Then I make a cup of turmeric latte, and either read a page turner or watch some light TV. Currently I'm sparking my joy with Marie Kondo on Netflix.
2. START THE DAY ON THE RIGHT FOOT
I find that if I start the morning as I mean to go on, I set myself up for a far more creative, productive and enjoyable day. This means getting up an extra 20 minutes earlier so that I have the time to walk along the beach before I head into the office. Breathing in the fresh, salty air and listening to the sound of the waves re captures that summery holiday feeling and sets me up for a creative day.
3. USE RITUALS TO CREATE HABITS
When I get into the office, I make myself a cup of my favourite Taylors & Harrogate coffee while I check my key Trello board, plan the day ahead, and look at email. Linking these activities to my morning cup of coffee means I automatically associate this group of activities with one another, so that these habits have become like second nature to me.
As a CEO, I had a PA who dealt with all my email so this was not something I had to prioritise. In the first few months of running my business, which came after a year's sabbatical, I had to create new work habits, one of which was checking email. Making this part of a ritual meant that I was less likely to forget to do so.
4. ELIMINATE INTERRUPTIONS
I can’t bear random interruptions when I’m working as it disrupts my concentration and flow. As a CEO, my PA acted as a gatekeeper and was under strict instructions to make sure I was able to work in my office uninterrupted. My diary was jam packed with meetings, many of which were with my team, so uninterrupted time in my office was precious and guarded fiercely.
I don’t have notifications on my phone or laptop, and only interrupt meetings to answer my phone in an emergency. I have a call answering service to deal with enquiries. Because the call volume is so low, this service costs me just £40 a month, but it means I can work uninterrupted.
5. WORK FROM HOME
Most days I go into the office because I have a small team who need my attention. But when I get the chance, I LOVE working from home. Not only does this save me travelling time, it allows me to focus completely on the projects I'm working on. Whether that's writing an article for my website or compiling a report for a business consulting client.
This year, with my aim of creating more margin in mind, I've diarised regular days to work from home. Fortnightly 'Writing Mondays.' Fortnightly 'Catch Up Fridays' and monthly Business Reviews.
6. WORK UNTIL A SENSIBLE TIME
Gone are the days when I work late into the evening and at the weekends, clocking up 60 to 70 hours a week. Evenings are for picnics on the beach in the summer, cultivating hobbies, catching up with friends, reading or watching my favourite dramas.
This year, I've joined a gym which is a 5 minute walk from the office. Two or three evenings a week, I go to classes that start around 5.30pm, meaning that I have to finish up and leave the office at a sensible time. Sometimes I'll do an hour's work in the evening if I've a deadline to meet. And I do occasional evening calls with clients based in the US and Canada. This to me is what work-life balance is all about.
7. HOLD REGULAR BUSINESS MEETINGS WITH YOURSELF
If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of weekly, monthly and quarterly reviews. This is when you set aside regular time to review progress against your key business goals, and map out your next set of actions.
This habit is a natural one to me. As a CEO, I reported to a Board on a monthly basis. I had set dates in my diary to collate and prepare reports. This rhythm was punctuated with weekly reports from my team, and meetings with the senior management team.
I believe that making space to pause and review the progress you're making towards realising your goals is one of the best things you can do for your business.
8. INVEST IN A BUSINESS COACH
Sometimes a different perspective is what's needed - which is where business coaching / consulting comes in. In a study commissioned by the International Coaching Federation on the benefits reported by ongoing coaching clients, 70% said they experienced better work performance as a result of business coaching, while 60% reported they’d become more effective leaders. When it comes to personal productivity and achieving your goals, it's been proven that nothing helps you go further, faster, than coaching.
You can find out more about my own business coaching and consulting services HERE.
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?
How do you create the space to do your best work? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share let me know in the comments box below.
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