Tip #3: Schedule separate blocks of time for proactive and reactive work.
This is easier said than done but will go a long way toward helping you get a better handle on your time. Aaron Marcum calls this “running a home care business that doesn’t run you.” You’ll always have fires to put out, but you also need time in which you work to move the business forward: working on the business, not necessarily in the business.
At Home Care Pulse, we solve this problem by requiring each employee to take weekly “Clarity Breaks”—scheduled time for them to go offsite and think about their role and the company from a high level, and what they can do to move it forward. The length of their clarity breaks vary depending on role; our leadership team members take a half a day per week for clarity breaks. While it takes some advance planning, we strongly recommend scheduling regular clarity breaks for yourself to refocus on what will move your business forward, not just solve problems at a day-to-day level.
Tip #4: Establish a daily routine to sharpen the saw.
In the bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, management expert Stephen R. Covey explains the concept of sharpening the saw: a lumberjack who maintains his tools and keeps his saw sharpened can saw more trees, more quickly, than a lumberjack who never pauses from working to sharpen his saw. Ultimately, working smart means taking time to care for your most important tool: yourself.
This can take many forms, but one important way is to establish a consistent morning routine for yourself comprised of habits that help you be at your best. Usually, this should include reading, exercising, staying up on industry news, and reading or watching something that makes you laugh. You should also take time at the beginning of each day to reaffirm your plans for the day, and take time at the end of the day to plan out the end of your day.
(Author’s note: Like many employees at Home Care Pulse, I served a two-year mission for my church and adhered to a strict daily schedule while doing so. While some of the schedule involved spiritual/religious habits, much of it was simply aimed at keeping us as healthy, productive, and effective as possible. It included waking up at 6:30 every day and exercising, meditating and studying for two hours every morning, holding nightly planning sessions to set the next day’s goals, and having a longer weekly planning session every Thursday. Despite working 60-hour weeks, I spent more than 3 hours every day sharpening the saw. Many of the people who use this schedule intentionally retain these habits for the rest of their life because they’re so useful in staying effective.)