Time Management For The Busy – What’s On Your “Not-To-Do” List?

Time Management For The Busy - What's On Your "Not-To-Do" List?

A little while ago I was interviewed for an interview series that gives advice to mom entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. The point is to share the knowledge successful business owners know so that newer entrepreneurs don’t have to make the same mistakes we made. Reflecting back on my previous business, Let’s Go Strolling, was like taking a fascinating trip down memory lane.

I found myself reflecting on one of the most important turning points for me in that business and actually, in business in general.  I was talking to my uber-smart coach (everyone should have one!) and complaining about a labor intensive aspect of my online business, personal detailed consultations.  It was, I believed, a huge revenue source, but also a huge source of stress, time and angst. My coach questioned whether it was really as helpful and beneficial as I believed it was.

In complete honestly, I would have sworn up and down that this one task was one of the most necessary aspects of success in my business – and so I told my coach that.  She continued to prod me and eventually challenged me to put this one aspect of my business on vacation for the summer.  With 2 small kids at the time, this was a hugely appealing thought – how about a summer vacation from the most time-draining aspect of my business?  If sales tanked, I could always resume the consultations at any time, and if they didn’t? – well that was hard to imagine.  “At least my consolation for falling sales,” I told myself, “is that I will get a few weeks off!”

Fast forward 3 months . . . I had completely stopped doing time-consuming consultations and our business was not just thriving but growing! Huh? What happened?  I believe that once I gathered the energy I spent on the consultations, I had a whole new resource of time available to me to brainstorm and implement other innovative (and less time-consuming) marketing strategies.  So any potential falling sales from my previous strategy was more than made up for by all the new tactics we were testing.

This is something I see all the time with clients, friends and yes, still myself.  Often we are convinced that a certain task, or way of being is exactly what the situation calls for.  And perhaps it was – 6 months ago, or even 6 days ago.  But now it no longer fits – instead it is just taking our energy (our most precious resource) away from brainstorming new solutions and creative tactics.

This can happen in work, as I described, or in the many other roles we fill. For instance, when my oldest son was younger, he was shy so I would make extensive efforts to schedule playmates and classmate interactions.  Lately I’ve turned around and saw he has grown into a highly social chatterbox.  I’ve since turned him loose, and now let him broker his own playdates, something he now always seems to be doing.

Just as my coach challenged me, I’m now challenging you: what one task or duty can you give up this school year?  Perhaps it’s negotiating with your boss to put one dreaded regular business task on hold? Or maybe its dropping one energy draining parenting task – who cares if they make their bed before school?

Take a few moments right now, pick one “not-to-do” for this fall and comment below right now and let me know what it is.  After that?  Why don’t you head out now and enjoy the new free time and energy you just gifted yourself!

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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