Find Your Free Time
Do you ever feel like you’re going through the motions of your job and life, completing one task after another with no end in sight? Do you find yourself reminiscing about “the good old days” when you actually had time to think, dream or just breathe? You’re not alone. Overcommitting and over-scheduling oneself with must-do activities creates a dangerous trap into which leaders commonly fall. Suddenly, you realize you have no energy, no enthusiasm—you’re practically inert, and it’s all your own doing. If this sounds familiar, stop the madness before it’s too late! Carve out that much-needed free time, those open spaces on your calendar when you have absolutely nothing planned. Like many savvy leaders who’ve learned the discipline of doing nothing, you’ll find you’re ultimately more effective, balanced and in control than you would be otherwise. So just as you hold yourself accountable to making plans for everything else in life and work, take your free time very seriously—and don’t forget to have some serious fun.
Do you want more free time? Here are a few ways to get it!
Adopt the “leading doesn’t mean always doing” mindset. Pull back from eternally believing you must be busy or always look “busy.” Stop thinking you must be the “yes person” to everything and everyone. That’s not your role as a leader. Your role is to orchestrate harmony, purpose and vision with a sense of grace, wisdom and command, not unlike a conductor leading musicians to perform a symphony. In other words, you are not the violinist!
Understand the impact of being “busy.” When you’re too busy, you eventually start to lose. You miss out on what others are doing around you because you’re too wrapped up in what you’ve got going on. You also lose your sense of self, perhaps sacrificing once-important dreams, health and/or wellbeing. Interestingly, being too busy also creates the perception that you’re not capable of truly treating yourself right. Direct reports may then question your credibility and durability as a leader. Worse, when they need help or a mere minute of your time, they’ll say, “Why bother? He/She is too busy.” Truly effective leaders consistently identify and delegate less vital duties to others. They can then focus on vital responsibilities from a more relaxed, balanced frame of mind.
Attack your calendar. Look closely at what’s on tap for the day, week or month. What can you move around tomorrow to open up three hours of much-needed free time? Or, what day every month can you set aside for simply planning nothing? Be proactive with how you schedule and don’t allow everything that’s going on in the world to control your calendar and your commitment to yourself.
What barriers do you face in carving out free time for yourself?