One of my main challenges as a coach is to make efficient use of my time – and I confess I’m not the world’s best business coach when it comes to time management. We can all get stuff done every day, but the quality of what we get done may not always be what we really need to get done, and yet if we really stay focused on the most important tasks until we complete them, our productivity would increase significantly.
I am blessed to have 3 wonderful boys. My eldest, Christopher, is 6, and his identical twin brothers are 2. Before the twins came along, Christopher taught me about patience – as much as you try and encourage children to get things done, they will need significant encouragement each and every day – and when they don’t always do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it, you can either get stressed, or you can learn that patience, especially with children, is a virtue.
I remember the first time we all went to the supermarket to do the food shop shortly after the twins came home from hospital. Firstly, getting three children into a car, with all the necessary equipment that travels with them at that age, takes far longer than you expect…. but that was nothing compared with trying to shop.
An outing that used to take an average of an hour, suddenly took 2 ½ hours! Yes there were some additional items that hadn’t appeared on the shopping list before, but the main reason for the extra time was all the people that stopped us as we went round the store, with the usual Coo’s, Ahhh’s and asking questions such as “Are they twins?”, “How old are they?”, “Are they the same?”…. etc.
We didn’t go to the store again – it is significantly more efficient for us to shop online, and have continued to do so ever since that incident.
I’m sure all the people that stopped us were well intentioned, but there is something in our genetic makeup that makes us say something if we see something unusual like twins. My wife and I have heard it all, from “Do they have the same mother / father?” and “Are they natural?” to “I bet they are a handful” and “I wouldn’t want to be in your position”. Sadly many people don’t think about what they are actually saying. Thankfully we’ve become thick skinned…. but more importantly, we’ve adapted how we use our time in the household to be as efficient as we can.
The twins can be very demanding, and my wife doesn’t get much time to sit down. Some days, the cup of tea she made at breakfast time remains on the side, untouched, when I get home.
And yet my wife and I both agree that we make things as easy for ourselves as possible – particularly when we hear stories from other parents. Our secret is a simple one – We got all three boys into a regime from day one. If one woke up wanting a feed, we woke the other up. The bedtime routine is the same every day. Yes, there are days where we deviate from the regime, but we always revert back to routine.
In business, too many people flit from task to task, constantly fire fighting, and feeling like they are never really getting things done. It is time to take a lesson from the twins. If they are screaming, they need something…. and they will continue to scream until it is done… but sometimes, you need to block out the scream and complete the task you are on – because it might be the most important thing at the time. Learning to focus on the important staff, even when those around you are screaming, can be tough at first, but getting distracted isn’t productive.
My children are very important to me, and I know that, so long as they are happy, I can get on with other things – so I make them happy first. Other tasks then get prioritised appropriately. If they begin to scream, I take just a brief moment to assess the severity of the scream – and if they are all safe, and haven’t hurt themselves, then I will stay focused on my current task to complete that first. In time, the boys are learning to scream less, and only when they absolutely have to.
My business is the same – I make a list of those tasks that have highest priority and I am learning to ignore the screaming of all the other distractions that occur during the day – Is it time you learnt to ignore the screaming too?