Up at 5 a.m. Check email, Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn groups and discussions, text messages, blog traffic, web traffic, and PostRank analytics all while brushing your teeth and feeding kids or pets.
Make time to exercise, do some writing, get ready for work.
Work a full day.
Rush home to make and have dinner with your family.
Sleep by 11 p.m. Do it again the next day.
How familiar does this sound? Maybe there is a tweak or two in there, but if you’re an entrepreneur, your days are long, your weeks are long, your months are long, and your years fly by while you’re left wondering where your time went.
A couple of weeks ago, Crister DelaCruz sent me a Harvard Business Review blog post about keeping white space in your business life. The idea being that we all need time to think and reflect, consistently, in order to do a better job. But, as illustrated above, leaving white space goes against the norm.
When I started Arment Dietrich, I spent all of my time working in the business. About three years into its existence, I realized we were stuck and it was because I hadn’t spent any time working ON the business.
A few people made some suggestions: Carve out two hours a day that you don’t work with clients. Or carve out one day a week where you work solely on the business. Or schedule appointments with yourself so you can do things for the business.
Those things stressed me out. Big time. Not because they weren’t doable, but because I’d miss my appointments with myself or a client would ask for a time during my two hour block and I’d give it to them. And then, suddenly, I was another quarter into the year and I hadn’t worked on the business.
So I did two things: I blocked Friday afternoons to begin with and I was fiercely protective of that time (mostly because Patti Knight made me; so find yourself a work wife if you have to). Then, as clients and staff got used to my not being available on Friday afternoons, I added the morning, as well. For two years, I have worked on the business every Friday, which has led to not only growth of Arment Dietrich, but the addition of our online business, Spin Sucks Pro.
All because I spend one full day every week working on the business. I don’t take client meetings. I don’t meet with my team. I only do the things that need to be done in order to grow one, or both, companies.
It’s scary to do it. Especially at first. So try it in blocks. Choose a day and block only two hours every week, on that day, for a month. Then protect it.
Keep a list of things you want to do during those two hours so your time is well spent.
Then add two more hours and two more hours and two more hours and two more hours until you have a full day devoted to working on your business every week.
This isn’t just for those of us who run businesses (and want to grow them), either. This is for everyone. We all need white space.
If you’re consistent about it and you keep your commitment to yourself, I guarantee some of those things that have been sitting on the back burner will get accomplished. A year from now, let’s sit back and look at what you’ve done with your one day a week.