Cate finds herself driving double the mileage as her normal commute many weeks throughout the year, attending events and meetings. She needs to go to this networking meeting. She should go to this mastermind group because she has been with them for 3 years. She has to go to this industry golfing event (even though she doesn’t play golf). After doing this for the last two years, Cate took the holiday break to evaluate where she spends her time, including commuting. And when she added up the time, she was horrified. She wanted – needed – more time in her day. She knew she needed to prioritize, but had no idea what or how to do it. A change had to be made right away.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, we know we have been in Cate’s shoes at some point in our career. I have to go to this industry cocktail hour. My next huge client will be there. If I don’t go to the event, my competitor will, and will get that next big contract, matter, engagement. If I don’t go, my business will tank.
How do you know which events and meetings to go to and when to say no? What is really worth your time and (gas) money? Develop a focus for the next 12 months and stick to it. Allow it to guide you to make decisions on attending events, or joining an organization. And know when to say no and cut your loses. Preferably sooner than later.
5 Tactics to Spend your Time Wisely
- Conduct an Audit. Review the last 12 – 18 months of networking meetings, industry events, conferences, 1:1 meetings, etc. What was worth your while? Where did you learn something new? Did you meet a new contact who has proved useful to you (introductions to clients, worthwhile contacts, resources, knowledge, etc.) Did you progress a relationship? What conferences have you been attending where you’re not learning anything new, or meeting new contacts, or seeing existing clients
- Prioritize.What is your focus for the year? What do you want to develop this year? What do you want to learn? Where do you want to increase your visibility? This can include outside the office commitments as well: home life, volunteer opportunities, hobbies, etc.
- Know your Ideal client/Referral Sources/Contacts.Who are your ideal contacts? Will they be at the conferences or events you’re committing to? Where are your ideal contacts hanging out?
- Create Boundaries. Literally. Block time on your calendar. I have time blocked on my calendar every afternoon to drive my son to varsity practice. This is a priority for me. It is often the only time he divulges information. (A typical teenage boy) I block an hour every Monday to be strategic. Because if you’re not strategic, you miss an opportunityto have a lasting legacy.
- Say No! You can do it. They will understand. Reframe ‘No’ to ‘Not right now’. When you know what has been productive in the past, your priorities, and who your ideal contacts are, this is a significantly easier task. In full disclosure, I practice what I preach, although sometimes it takes me a while to realize I need to do so. I finally decided to cut my losses recently. In the past, I pleasantly left an organization of fellow coaches. I liked the people I met, but I wasn’t learning anything new or meeting people who would help me excel in my career. I left a master mind group I had been with for over 3 years. This was a much harder decision. I loved the relationships I had developed with smart and talented individuals. But I was no longer fueled by the discussions. And resentment started to set in when the energy and commitment wasn’t there. I didn’t quit, but rather adjusted my time commitment that worked for me. Breaking up can be done. But it needs to be deliberate and strategic. Cut your losses to allow room for something energizing and new to fill your time. You can do this! Spend your time the way you want to. Prioritize your needs and interests, not other’s priorities.
If you are not sure about where your time is best spent, contact me to set up a complimentary session to understand how executive coaching gives you more time in your day, prioritize, say no, and encourages you to go after what you want in your career.
What have you done to find more time in your day? What did you realize?