It always takes me a moment to respond when someone asks me how much time they’ll need for coaching. They have busy schedules and don’t have a lot of time for homework, so they’re worried that coaching is another thing to fit into their to do list.
I get where they’re coming from and it reminds me that there are a lot of bad coaching practices out there…
The value of (high performance) coaching isn’t to take up time but to cut through the noise and focus on the important things, creating more space, ease, and flow. This catalyses your ability to reach your true goals.
Like in a chemical reaction, a catalyst speeds up the process and reduces the activation energy. It doesn’t require more time or energy (and luckily doesn’t get consumed in the process!)
But unless you’ve had great bosses, learned the tricks of the “high performance mindset”, or had a previous experience of deep coaching, it’s hard to go against the grain of employee work cultures where you’re expected to work all hours of the day, squeeze more into your schedule, and be seen to be doing it all single-handedly. The subtext is that if you don’t operate this way, you’ll miss out or fall behind.
When I became my own boss, I was faced with the dilemma of pushing myself to work hard to create more business versus trusting my intuition and creative rhythms. By learning from those who were ahead of me (working in their businesses sustainably), and after a few missteps that got me so tense I once developed a wry neck that lasted weeks, I finally started to understand my inner-compass and make balanced decisions.
My clients are constantly reminded that:
“There’s no such thing as time management. It’s all about choice management”.
This is why your inner-compass comes in handy!
While you have the same amount of time in the day as everyone else and can’t create time, here are six things I’ve learned to help you use your time optimally to succeed in what truly matters to you:
[Read on watch this week’s video below]
1. Pause in the midst of chaos
This is a counter-intuitive move. But once understood makes you a master of time! It takes self-awareness because the default is to do more when you think you have more to do.
When sensing overwhelm, a master stops and steps back to do a system check and diagnose what’s not working.
My client Lina was working 8am to 8pm as a NHS Consultant psychiatrist with little room for anything other than NHS service delivery. By taking a 30,000ft view of where she was and cutting through a lot of the unnecessary noise in her mind and schedule, she started to notice that she was getting more done with less stress and enjoying writing again. Her new approach (and coaching skills) also benefitted her department as she put into action innovative projects to truly partner with the patients in achieving their chosen treatment goals with the support they need through spot consultations and freeing up precious NHS resources along the way.
2. Prioritise the good stuff
Easier said than done and yet, so necessary. I often recommend only focusing on one goal at a time. What you learn from that will spill into everything else.
Stephen Covey’s book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People illustrates this beautifully with a grid of important/not important and urgent/non-urgent. Firefighters are busy doing urgent things (whether important or not), whereas time masters are doing mostly non-urgent, important things.
If you’re stuck in a procrastination rut, choose one thing that energises you or sounds productively fun and go do that! Life doesn’t have to be a slog. Pick something and run with it.
3. Batch like a chef
Context-switching is the death of efficiency especially with digital tech and the dopamine addiction that comes with instant messaging and notifications.
It’s been shown that people take longer and feel more tired if they’re trying to multitask because of the energy wasted on switching from one task to another and back.
I batch my activities under “service”, “creating”, “systems”, “fuel” (aka self-care), etc.
You may start to notice there are times or days when you’re best at certain types of tasks e.g. creative thinking in the morning or admin on a Sunday.
But the verdict is out: multitasking is a myth – you can only really do one thing at a time and it’s best to group similar things over a chunk of time together, so you can do them in quick succession.
4. Focus on one small step at a time (really!)
It’s one thing to be creative and have lots of great ideas come to you, it’s another to sustain enough diligent activity to turn that idea into concrete results in the real world.
Prioritising and batching will help but it’s honing your mindset to stay on task even when your fears, doubts and sabotaging inner-critic kicks in that’s the secret sauce.
Anyone who asks me what they can do to increase their confidence will hear what Rich Litvin said to me: confidence is not a requirement, focused action is.
Taking small, consistent steps, even in the face of fear will bring its rewards and build your confidence.
5. Eliminate what drains you
Warren Buffett the down-to-earth billionaire once said that:
"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."
By eliminating work that drains her, my colleague and client Amber who does much needed work helping women in tech build their confidence and flourish has been able to devote more time to growing her global consultancy. As she lets go of doing work that she feels she should do, she’s doing more of and getting paid for the work she’s passionate about, got invited by Google to pitch a coaching programme, and has booked a long-desired month of yoga and travel in Thailand for February!
You don’t have to take yourself seriously but you do have to take your work seriously and respect its need for fertile soil free of weeds!
6. Ride the energy wave
Sometimes, it’s time to bring everything to a halt and ride a wave of creative energy that hits you. You’re being given an opportunity to complete something in a condensed amount of time that would last months if not years longer if you were to do it through willpower and logic alone.
With time, you can smooth out these waves as you organise your life and career around your own inner-compass and cognitive cycles rather than external expectations and industrial work rhythms.
Being the boss of your own time requires that you make boss-like decisions i.e. of how to distribute your resources. You’ll have to focus on a few things and eliminate the rest so you can truly fly.
While it can be stressful to begin with (any real lifestyle change will be, especially if you’re breaking a few conventional rules and expectations along the way), eventually you’ll start to see the payoff and feel more ease and clarity across the board.
Have a great week,
Ready to move beyond your current level of success and its limitations so you can fulfil your true potential? Book a free coaching slot here.
Liked this? Subscribe to Wise Wednesdays - weekly wisdom to live by.