He said he is constantly in meetings and that since his team is virtual he has meetings at all hours to accommodate all their different schedules. He often ate lunch at his desk. In three years he hadn’t taken more than a week off at a time and he always had his cell phone with him. People constantly were getting a hold of him during his vacations.
This is often typical of what I hear from top executives we coach around the world. Their time becomes every one else s and they suddenly feel tied to the desk, exhausted, and frustrated. Ironically at the same time they tell me their ability to be strategic is gone and they are putting out crisis’s.
So is there hope or a better solution?
When I gave the following suggestions to Bill his first response was “it won’t work. I need to be available at all times.” Within two months of implementing the changes Bill was able to take three weeks off without checking email or voice mail! He is home at 6 pm nightly and his team is operating at a higher level.
1. Build in strategic think time on your calendar. Don’t let others invade this time. Once your brain knows it has time to do what it needs to do, it relaxes and the anger often goes away.
2. Talk to your team and let them know about this change and how it will benefit them. We have a formula we share with those we coach that shows the people on their team how they will benefit as a result of this change. It is important that you phrase this correctly.
3. Stick to it. Don’t allow someone to bump your time, move it around or just drop in. Be firm about this or you will never truly have time free.
4. Keep big projects for these select time blocks, turn off email, and don’t answer the phone. You will probably be able to crank out 6 hours of work in under two hours of time.
5. Try to keep the same time block cleared. For me, this is mornings from 8-10 am as that is when I am the most creative. Once your team knows what is the time block that is sacred then it will be easier for them to stay clear of it. If your “time block” moves each day it becomes a burden for your team to support.
Start with 2-3 days of week with blocked off time and gradually move to almost daily.