CEO Insider

Clock Out: Why You Must Learn to Stop Working?

With a smartphone in your pocket or purse at all times, business never stops. The only one who can stop is you. The growing problem in today’s business environment of connectedness and ultra-communication is that you’re always reachable.

Managing time now is the number one objective to balance, not just in your business, but your entire life. The pervasiveness and constant messaging that our information world wields demands new strategies and tactics to survive.

These new survival skills are cross-generational, from baby boomers, to generation xers to millennials. To be honest, the younger generations are even more susceptible than the older ones. They are born and raised in this age of information and know no boundaries.

Boundaries are the key.

Boundaries between work and personal life are the critical. You have to truly “clock out” of your day. But that’s easier said than done when your employees or business colleagues “need” you.

But do they really?

And, why do you feel you MUST respond immediately?

Just because you have a smartphone at your fingertips, doesn’t mean you must communicate at the drop of a phone-call, voicemail, email or text.

Learn to set boundaries such as how quickly you’ll respond to emails and phone calls. Test how you’ll no longer allow interruptions. If people want to get your valuable time, make them schedule it. Boundaries are about “teaching others how to treat you.” Set them and keep them.

Having boundaries is only part of the solution on “clocking out.” This next aspect goes to the heart of your success or failure.

Here’s a concept that if you can take in, really get it and learn, it will truly transform your world as it relates to time:

You will never get it all done.

So, stop trying.

The second part of having success with “clocking out” is to set what I call “Success Outcomes.”

The concept: What defines a successful day for you? You’re the only one who can truly answer that.

It might be consistent day to day. If you’re in Sales, it might simply be hitting your Daily Sales Target. Or, if you’re in finance, it might be related to analytics or reporting.

Typically, what defines a successful day will vary day to day. The trick is to learn and define what will be success to you daily. That way, you’ll have a “benchmark” on when to “clock out” each day.

Now that we live in a virtual, non-clock punching world, the rules have changed on what a successful day looks like. In the Industrial Age, it was simply working 9-5. Or, it was
the physical labor associated with your job. Now, we no longer have those clear and simple guidelines.

I always loved the story that all of the aspects of your life are considered round balls. Nearly all of them are rubber with only close relationship and health as glass balls. It is learning to allow the rubber balls to drop, to bounce that is the true lesson. Only the glass ball can’t be dropped. Let the other balls bounce. Nothing truly bad will happen.

If you begin to think and approach your day in the new ways I’m suggesting, you’ll create your own “time clock” and learn to clock out.

Here are a few Actionable Suggestions that can bring you immediate results.

• For one week, each morning read over your To Do List and mark if the Task MUST be done that day. Each day that week, ONLY perform the Tasks you marked. See how the week turned out. Were you more or less productive? Avoid doing anything else outside of the Tasks you’ve classified as critical.

• Pick an Ending Time for the Day and STOP working immediately when the clock hits that time. You could pick 5, 6 or 7pm. The key isn’t the time you pick but the discipline to stop the minute the clock strikes that time. Try this for 1 week.

• For one week, do not take an unscheduled call or meeting. Make everyone, from your Board to your Boss to your subordinates schedule in advance. Test it out for one week and see how much more productive you were. Just be sure to stick to this policy for the entire week.

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Pat Mixon
Pat Mixon is a Time & Efficiency Expert and the founder of Executive Training Camp, the world’s premier place for 21st Century training, strategies, and systems that allow Manager, Executives, and Business Owners to take their game to the next level. Pat’s in the business of giving people BACK THEIR TIME. Pat writes about and helps individuals learn new systems and strategies around Time Management, Delegation, Email Management, To Do Lists, Meeting Management, Making Decisions, and Managing/Working Remotely and more. He is also managing partner at The Infrastructure Company. Visit his website at: ExecTrainingCamp.com and his firm’s consulting website for finance, accounting, operations and technology at TheInfrastructureCompany.com.
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