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How to Take More Time Off and Be More Productive

31 January 2018

For over 10 years now, I have participated in the Strategic Coach program. Developed by the great Dan Sullivan, the program brings together a group of entrepreneurs quarterly and adds a coach to the seminar to encourage and lead transformational changes in our personal and business lives.

The Strategic Coach program encourages the identification of your “Unique Ability” – what you are best at and what you most love to do. This enables you to focus your best efforts there, delegating other tasks, which are not your Unique Ability, to others. To further this goal, Dan Sullivan devised a strategy for categorizing time – he divides days into: “Focus Days,” “Buffer Days,” and “Free Days.” Each has its own importance, and requires a different type of emphasis and energy.

• Focus Days – on these days, you maximize productivity by focusing on the activities within your “Unique Ability,” and on clients with whom you especially like to work. On these days you should connect with key relationships and seize opportunities. Keep interruptions to a minimum, and try to spend about 80% of your “Focus Days” occupied with your most productive efforts.

• Buffer Days – these days help you prepare for “Focus Days” and “Free Days,” by cleaning up messes, delegating responsibilities (and providing your team with the input they need from you), and learning new capabilities.

• Free Days – these are 24-hour periods during which you do no work. “Free Days “are for relaxation and recreation. Think about the word “recreation” – you re-create yourself, away from your work responsibilities, and come back to those responsibilities refreshed, with a new perspective and a clear mind.

While I enjoy all my “Days,” it has been the “Free Days,” as a concept and in practice, which have been the greatest revelation. It is tempting, in today’s world, to feel we must be available at all times, 24/7, to our clients, our team members and our colleagues. But we serve all of them, and ourselves, far better if we take time for the outside activities we love, whether it is skiing, hiking, or reading a book. Spend time with family, turn off your work phone, and don’t check work emails.

Your work will be better for it!

On our own family vacations, we go to the beach, skiing, biking, see sights, visit museums, and attend concerts and films (we once went to the Sundance Film Festival, a wonderful experience). We have several regular, favorite destinations, which we know are conducive – for us – to relaxation, recreation, and family fun all around, which we mix with trips to new places – Spain, France, Italy, Grand Cayman – to broaden our cultural horizons and to challenge us.

The Strategic Coach program seeks to help entrepreneurs maximize their whole life potential – which will, ultimately, result in a happier, more productive, and more successful working and personal life. Focus on what you enjoy and do best, set aside time to deal with the more mundane aspects of work, and take time for yourself and your family, away from work, in order to do your very best, most productive work.

Until next Wednesday – when we will talk about vacationing in unfamiliar places and the benefits such travel provides.