Ever noticed that some people have got the ‘work hard, play hard’ thing all figured out?
They are nailing their targets, they come to work with a spirulina juice in hand, glowing from a military bootcamp workout in the park. They will be doing HIIT at lunchtime, pilates at six, then chowing down on steamed salmon and miso greens before pre-bedtime mindfulness.
They are not only healthy and good at their job, they are also really nice, and snack on raw cashews, while you neck M&Ms. On team nights out, they are the first at the bar and the last one standing. Their social media feeds suggest a healthy social life and plenty of foreign travel, while you scream inwardly: “Where on earth do they find the time?!”
These types aren’t all that common, but they do seem to have life worked out. The truth is that it’s their motivation and approach to life that means they excel in multiple areas, be it work, exercise, or friendship.
There is even survey-based evidence to suggest why people who push themselves hard at work seem more likely to succeed in their hobbies. Queen's University biology professor Lonnie Aarssen published a study in 2016 that, for the first time, found a correlation between a motivation to seek accomplishment and an attraction to leisure.
If you seem to be working with steam coming out your ears, and yet finding no time to play, take comfort in the knowledge that there is a cheat - and that is to simply scrutinise your working day and make adjustments.
Just think what freeing up 10 hours a month could do for your health and wellbeing, as well as your playtime. Not only could you squeeze in two more fitness sessions a week, it’s also enough for 1,200 bedtime stories a year with your children, or a 15-day holiday with no interruptions.
How to free up 10 hours a month
1. Use the Eisenhower Matrix
The 34th President of the United States had his own strategy for boosting productivity, and it involved being ruthless with his to do list. It’s simple: list all your tasks and then plot them on an urgent-important grid in one of four categories.
Anything deemed neither urgent nor important gets removed from the to do list straight away. Anything that falls into the urgent but not important box gets delegated to someone else. Tasks that are important but not urgent get planned in your calendar for later, and anything both urgent and important gets done right away.
It’s hardly rocket science but plotting your to do list on a matrix immediately eliminates the unnecessary, and makes the necessary more manageable.
Eisenhower thought outsourcing was so important he built it into his matrix as a way to be more efficient. The internet has given business owners all sorts of ingenious ways to outsource jobs at work and home.
Think about your hourly rate. Should you be chasing invoices, ordering stationery, managing annual leave, writing blogs for your website, and putting together HR documents for new starters? Or does it make more financial sense to invest in apps that can automate these tasks, or to hire someone – like a virtual assistant – to do them for you, so you can focus on lead generation, sales and expansion?
Similarly, should you be cleaning your house, or painting your hallway, or should you outsource it so you can be happier and healthier by spending quality time with your family, friends or going to a fitness class.
The key to play time, is to find the time. Look at every task and ask yourself the question: should I really be doing this?
3. Remove barriers
To perform at your optimum level, make sure nothing is stopping you. Your working environment, the technology you use to do your job, and people you trust enough to delegate to, or just get on with the job, are paramount.
Do away with pointless meetings, work where you function best, and remove all distractions.
4. Get busy
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to motivate yourself in the first few months of business ownership? Because you’re not busy enough to be productive, and self-made deadlines don’t carry the same urgency as customer or client deadlines.
There’s a good reason ‘they’ say: “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” Being busy breeds hard work. Set goals and make it your mission to get busy. For example, get in touch with old contacts and propose a coffee, learn the art of content marketing or online lead generation and add it to your tried and tested sales methods.