Live to Work or Work to Live? That is the Question
Have you spent your long weekend, or weekday evenings attached to your iPad, tablet or mobile. Do you know what’s important or how to prioritise? This is for all you business Owner Managers who spend their every waking hour staying on top of seemingly endless streams of To Do’s.
Life cannot be all about work. Over the last few decades social media, mobile telephony and the explosion of other pods, pads and tablets we are bombarded with have taken over our lives to the point of obsession. I believe we have to sometimes STOP and TAKE STOCK of what our lives are all about – when do we stop planning and working towards a better future, and start living for the Here and Now?
The main reason we become so tied up with our working lives is our fear of losing control; letting go of what we perceive no one else can do for us – our reluctance to delegate – or not having the self-discipline and determination to really define our objectives on a day-to-day basis, and time manage against those.
If you prefer to work to live – freeing up your evenings to enjoy some family time, taking weekends off to have some of those adventures on your wish list, and really get your life back in control – you have to learn to delegate some of the “doing” stuff to the people in your business. You can read more on that topic in my article Get Comfortable with Delegation. Right now, we need to focus on understanding what is important and, hopefully, not urgent.
Proactive versus Reactive
If the business is only you, then the exercise becomes one of determining what your proactive and reactive tasks are, and eliminating those time consuming to do’s that won’t actually move your business forward, or make more money.
Lots of reactive, unimportant tasks accumulate into hours of unproductive time. This results in the proactive, important tasks that you really should be focusing on, becoming urgent, and you find yourself in a downward spiral of living only to work.
Get your stylus or keypad out and jot down on one of your electronic screens all those to do’s that will actively move you towards your key business objectives. If you’re not sure what those are, then try to think about whether that activity or task will
- increase sales
- reduce costs
- improve client service
- improve product quality
- give you more time
These are your Proactive tasks. If the work doesn’t cover any of those then it’s Reactive and should go to the bottom of the pile. Either find someone else to do it for you, or do it last and don’t procrastinate over it. Get it done and off the list.
Important versus Urgent
A task can be reactive but urgent (like getting your finances over to the accountant at the end of the year), but it just then becomes a matter of how you prioritise that task, and how much time you spend on non-urgent jobs. Anything you defined as Proactive above is an Important task, and should be scheduled accordingly.
If you are planning effectively your diary will fill up with the important, non-urgent jobs as you gradually put the fire’s out, and get back in control of what you SHOULD be doing to drive your business forward. Then you’ll begin to find there are less reactive and urgent issues distracting you.
In summary, here’s a simple matrix to help you plan your Proactive from your Reactive, and Important from Urgent tasks, and how these can be prioritised and scheduled into your working week. Don’t end up working yourself out of a life.
If you feel you could benefit from external support during your early years of trading, or need expert advice developing your first management systems, processes and teams, Alluxi Consulting provides business performance consultancy and Executive development coaching. An initial exploratory discussion can quickly uncover what you need to move your business forward.