The clock starts ticking …
Go to Work.
Work (and account for every 6 minutes).
Rush hour (stress in abundance).
Family/you time (sometimes if you are lucky).
The clock is still ticking ….
And so the repeated cycle goes on, month after month after month.
Time is a constant, but, of course, it is a construct that we have made (the Matrix always plays on my mind at this point).
But is the Habit allowing us to make the most of ourselves?
Have you ever tried a new time hack to see if it made any difference to your productivity or effectiveness?
The most common: rise early – say 5am; take a power nap; sleep for a short while in the afternoon or work later and later into the night, perhaps going all round the clock (a favourite of Winston Churchill). You could even try repeated polyphasic sleep meaning sleep more than twice in a day (the favoured method is 20 minute naps in any four-hour period).
In working in an environment where time is your master it is too easy to succumb to the inevitability of time. You feel enslaved by it.
If you are judged merely by the quantity of time that is recorded (value based billing is still a long way off for most firms), then start looking at your own clock, your best time of day or times when you prefer to work, and try to fit more of the work around those times. Most firms now have the technology for remote working and even though you will still need to remain in (frequent) contact with your clients, it strikes me that many more hours could be productively spent if we just worked in a different, more efficient way.
Habits are there to be altered, broken or ditched. Start small if you are afraid to commit to 30 days or more. Start with something that is bugging the hell out of you and work at it every day. Don’t try to take on multiple habit changes. Conquer one thing at a time. This doesn’t just apply to time issues, it can work with practically anything.
Most lawyers used to start with their post – quite a few probably still do – but for the rest, they now have a series of open time loops and baskets (in the widest possible sense) that they have to empty each day – emails, telephone calls, drafting, billing and so on.
One habit changer that I am always surprised is not used more is the power of the list in deciding the most important two or three things that you are going to do in any one day. Most people refer to these as the Big Rocks (you will need to read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey to fully understand the term) but they are the things that will make the biggest difference to your day, month and life.
If you can get into the habit of processing your stuff, organising it, deciding on the three most important things every day, and then doing them (or at least committing to a set period of time which will get your unwavering and uninterrupted time) then you will be further ahead than most people who will always be at the mercy of the next incoming email or telephone call.
We will soon be back into our routine.
A lot of our good intentions and self-talk will be lost in a cacophony of trivia and busy work.
You must stay focused.
Make sure that you schedule time for you (a Sunday always seems to work well) when you can reflect on your week’s successes and areas that you need to focus on for the coming week. Don’t have any distractions about you like the computer, your mobile and just sit and think with a pen and paper close by. You will find that there is no shortage of things to fill the pages. You then need to decide on the most important things for the coming week and do them.
Instinctively, we believe that the majority of our circumstances govern us or our day to day behaviour. Yes, your freedom may be limited but not so limited that you can’t make time for planning and breaking the odd habit.
Habits are there to help us develop and grow but they can also become self-limiting and corrosive if we do not think consciously about the person we really do wish to become.