What would be your idea of a successful holiday?
Let’s say you’ve booked a two-week trip to the Maldives with your partner … staying in a water bungalow in the middle of the stunning Indian Ocean, romance and luxury all the way, no expense spared.
Now, the Maldives is a particular kind of place, and people go for a particular type of holiday. So I imagine rest and relaxation would be order of most days. Soaking up the magnificent views, lounging in a hammock reading, eating lots of incredible meals, sleeping …. Maybe you’d go on a few snorkelling trips, perhaps a couple of hikes …
2 weeks. 336 hours. You’ve rested, slept, read … eaten well, spent good quality time with your partner … got a nice tan, even.
You’d probably call it a successful holiday. It certainly sounds rather good to me!
Let’s say that you then spend the following two weeks, once you’re back home, in much the same way …
You stay in bed late each morning, then spend most of the day on your comfortable sofa reading. You go for a few walks, eat three great meals every day, spend lots of time talking to your partner … or your friends and family.
2 weeks. 336 hours. You’ve rested, slept, read, eaten well and spent good quality time with your friends and family.
Would you call it a successful two weeks?
Possibly not …
You’d probably get to the end of those two weeks, and say you’ve WASTED TIME.
That you’ve been unproductive.
And why? Because there were probably quite a number of things – important things – that you needed to be doing. And nice as it is to spend two weeks doing very little, it’s not very productive, and unfortunately, for most of us, not very realistic for more than a few weeks of a year.
What does this prove? It proves that the way that we spend, and manage, our time is all relative … It all depends on our GOALS … and on our PRIORITIES.
Our goal for a holiday is normally to rest, or recuperate. To do less than we do in our day-to-day lives.
Our goals in our day-to-day lives are different. Whether work related or personal, whether to finish a project, or get up-to-date with our accounting, or to clean the house … We’re going to have a list of things that need doing. And often, that list is longer than the time available to do them in.
So in those cases, two weeks on the sofa is NOT a case of “time well managed”.
But that’s obvious, right? It’s easy to see when we’re wasting time by doing nothing …
Is it as easy to see when we’re wasting time by doing TOO MUCH?
What if those two weeks after the holiday are spent in the opposite way? What if you get up at 6.00am and go to bed at midnight, having worked a solid ten-hours, been to the gym, the supermarket, the vets, the mechanics … having cleaned the house top to bottom, done multiple rounds of laundry, cooked dinners ...
Would you consider that a successful week?
Probably, in terms of things achieved. Work things, and admin things, and life things.
But have you had time for YOURSELF? Have you had time to do any of the things you really love? Have you had time for your friends, your family?
And have you actually been PRODUCTIVE? Have those ten-hour days actually generated more income, or new clients, or a change in your circumstances that made it worth a full ten hours of work every day …?
Perhaps not …
In fact, perhaps you’re already feeling like you need another two-week holiday in the Maldives!
Using your time well isn’t about filling it. It isn’t about being busy. It’s about being EFFECTIVE.
And it’s about PRIORITISING.
You probably started your business as you wanted more FREEDOM. Freedom to do what you wanted, when you wanted. But often the very thing we’ve created to give us that freedom does the exact opposite, and we find ourselves busier than ever …
To get that freedom, maybe we need to focus on what we are DOING with our time?
There will always be 24 hours in a day. We can’t change that. And certain things will always take a certain amount of time. We can’t change that, either.
So rather than trying to manage time – this intangible thing that happens around us … Maybe we need to manage our DECISIONS, our ACTIVITIES, and our PRIORITIES.
Make sure we’re doing the BEST possible things in those hours we have available in our lives.
And to do this, maybe we just need to ask ourselves a few questions …
“What needs to be done?”
“Does it really need to be done?”
“When does it need to be done by?” … “And how often?”
“How long will it take?”
And most of all … “Does it need to be done by ME?”
Maybe we can stop doing certain things entirely … or maybe someone else can help with them instead … free up some of our time for us to focus on our biggest priorities.
Maybe we need to change some of our habits, or develop some new ones. Maybe we need a schedule to help us manage our tasks, and priorities, and time.
Maybe if we focus on the individual things that are taking up our time, and on making sure we’re being EFFECTIVE (EFFICIENT, even), with those individual tasks … maybe we’ll find we actually have a lot more time to spare.
And maybe then, we’ll get that freedom we set out for ….
Maybe those two weeks after a holiday won’t make us want to get on the first plane back there.