Time Out? I’m far too busy!

With our planning workshop coming up next week, I was doing a final sweep of calls yesterday to see if we had any late entrants.

One guy was “far too busy at the moment. I’ll make it to the next one.” The thing is he’s been ‘far too busy’ every quarter for several years now. I did ask if he was just being polite and didn’t want to offend me. Apparently not. He would get there next year.

Being ‘far too busy’ is good for a while; but not for years. Surely our busyness in business should result in the rewards of money and time. Money to pay someone else to do some of our work. And time to spend on more valuable and/or enjoyable activities.

I’m certainly not there yet. But it remains a realistic aspiration. I’m clear about where I want to get to and what I need to do to get there.

For me, periodically sitting down to review progress and plan the future is important; I believe it’s vital to find the space in the busyness of client delivery, marketing and keeping the office running to spend a little time planning.

The freedom of being my own boss is not always helpful. I rely on the discipline of someone (my coach) telling me when my planning day is. I benefit from being lead through a process that results in me emerging with a plan in my hand.

This quarter is a little different. My ‘official’ planning day isn’t until October – and I’ve already created my plan for the next quarter.

But I’m still going to my ‘official’ planning day. Recently someone asked me why bother.

Good question. Especially as my plan is unlikely to change. Even more reason not to go!

Experience tells me that I come out of these days with things even more important than a plan – energy, inspiration and determination.

Much of this comes from the other people in the room. Running one’s own business can be tough and draining. That shared experience of being ‘not the only one’ can be liberating and encouraging. The other commonality with the people in the room is that they tend to be optimistic, ambitious and generous – everyone seems to have an instinct for helping and encouraging others. I’ll gratefully take any help I can get.

I sometimes listen to the others in the room and think, “If they can do that, so can I!”.

I’ll hear something and think, “What a brilliant idea! I can do that easily”.

Someone will say something and I’ll think, “Why on earth am I doing that? From this moment forward, let’s just stop doing it”.

There are always priceless ‘Ahh!’ moments.

I also catch myself laughing on too! Definitely a good sign and something I need to do more of.

Planning is a skill and a habit. It’s not so much the plan we emerge with – it’s the thinking process we go through. But like many habits, it takes time to develop and it can feel unnatural. Thinking is hard work. We feel happier when we’re doing, doing, doing. But just doing, doing, doing without thinking first can be fruitless. It can even that us faster and further from where we really want to go!

I’ve needed to force myself to spend time thinking and planning. But being a skill means I can get better at it – with guidance and practice. And as with other skills, the better I get the more I’ll want to do it.

Planning is something that successful people do.

If it’s good for them it must be good for me. I know that if I copy some of their habits I’ll stand a chance of being like them.

And let’s be honest with ourselves. Being ‘far too busy’ is just an excuse. Let’s say it how it is. We’ve chosen to do something that we currently consider to be more important. In the next 13 weeks we could all make 8 hours available for planning if we wanted to.

And being ‘far too busy’ for years is pure delusion. We really do need some time out to get clear about where our busyness is taking us.

There’s nothing lost in putting Wednesday 15th January 2014 in your diary as ‘Planning Day’. Even if you decided over Christmas that it’s not your thing, you’ll have ring-fenced a free day just for you. Perhaps you could go for a long walk and just ‘kick the leaves’.

P.S. And its’ not too late this time round! This quarter’s planning workshop is happening on Wednesday 25th September. If you need some time out to think, plan and return to the fray energized and focused then get yourself booked on:

P.P.S. So how did the Great North Run go? I ran it in 2 hours 1 minute. Given that I picked up a calf injury half way round I was pleased with my time and with my performance. More importantly we’ve raised £850 for CLIC Sargent – so far. I’m hopeful we’ll get to £1,000 before the end of the month. And I feel there’s a sub 2 hour run in me next year!


Mark Dyble

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