Archive for the ‘Work Life Balance’ Category

Imagine the following scenario. It’s Wednesday afternoon. You and a friend are having lunch at your favourite restaurant. After lunch you might go for a stroll, visit a local attraction, or just go home and read. It doesn’t matter which. Your phone and email are switched off, work is the farthest thing from your mind, and you’re committed to nothing more than simply relaxing. You return to the office the next morning, guilt-free and feeling rather energetic.

This is what Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan describes as a Free Day, a 24-hour period completely free from work-related problem-solving, communication, and action.

It’s not so easy to imagine, is it? For most business owners, the whole notion of free time, particularly midweek, is nothing less than far-fetched. How can you possibly take free time when there’s so much work to be done, money to make, commitments to be kept?

Most people think of Free Days as a reward for hard work. I don’t. Now I see Free Days as an essential precondition for achieving success and optimum productivity. The key to free days is recognizing that it means booking time to rejuvenate before — not after — your productive periods. Several years ago I started to notice that many of the successful business owners I admired talked about the importance of ‘downtime’ and blocking out periods of time where they did absolutely nothing.

Because I was interested in replicating their results, I paid attention and started to wonder how I could incorporate ‘free days’ into my own schedule. It wasn’t easy at first. On any given day, most business owners would consider themselves extraordinarily lucky (or seriously pressured) to be able to squeeze in a bit of free time, let alone a whole day. It happens only IF they can first get “a few things” done, IF there are no unexpected crises, and IF they can just clean up a few “little messes” around the office. Not surprisingly, this seldom, if ever, happens.

But if you want to improve the quality of both your work and personal life, you need ‘Free Days’. So how can you incorporate free days into YOUR schedule?

Right now, most of us figure out how much time we need to work and make money. Then, if there’s anything left over, we devote it to free time. But this concept doesn’t work for time any more than it works for money.

Successful savers know that you have to work out what you want to save, take it off the top of your income, and live on the rest. If you don’t, you’ll get to the end of the month and find there is nothing left. Free time is just like savings: it has to come off the top. So you need to plan your Free Days first, and then work everything else around them.

It won’t come easy at first. You’re not used to it. Like anything else, Free Days take time and practice. But it gets easier when you see free days as a necessity, rather than a luxury. When you’re running a business YOU are the most important asset. In the words of Coachville founder Thomas Leonard ‘Without you, there is nothing.’ So you need to make taking time out for relaxation, rejuvenation and what Stephen Covey calls ‘sharpening the saw’ a priority.

How should you use a Free Day? Well that all depends upon YOU. Some people are rejuvenated by engaging in highly energetic activities. They need to be out and about, on the go all the time. Others (like me) are just the opposite. They just want to relax, curl up with a book, listen to music, get a massage, lie on a beach, or have a good conversation. Whatever you choose, your Free Day should allow you to be in a different world, away from responsibilities, concerns, worries, and goals.

Start NOW. Don’t let this be a ‘good idea’ that you’ll get around to ‘when you have time’. Take out your calendar and mark out your next ‘free day’. Keep it sacred! If a whole day seems like too much to start with, then start with an afternoon. I promise that when you make a habit of ‘free days’ and you notice your creativity and productivity soar as a result, you’ll be hooked. So start TODAY.

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