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If I was asked to pick out the most meaningful nugget of wisdom I have learned over the last decade of being an entrepreneur, it would be something called: The Entrepreneurial Time System™ from The Strategic Coach®. The concepts and types of days that support this system are property of this well known organization. I have been a client of for the last decade, and it has truly changed my life. I pray that by sharing my story, you might be inspired by the concepts and lessons I have learned. Discovering how your life can become better balanced can far surpass mere lessons in how to have a better business.
I truly believe that any truly successful business owner, leader or business professional should want to focus on life balance vs. an endless pursuit of success, material gain, etc. I know not only from personal experience, but in dealing with hundreds of clients that this goal is very elusive (and even more so in a down economic climate, as people tend to do even more hysterical activity than before, hoping that it keeps their business or career afloat).
When I was just starting out as an entrepreneur, I found myself easily working an 80-100 hour work week. Even if I worked less on weekends than I did during the week, I still worked every day. I also worked 12-18 hour days on a pretty regular basis. I had a mission and was determined to succeed. You might think that makes sense, especially for a young, unmarried man who was starting a business. And perhaps for a specified period of time, it might. But as I looked at how long I worked that way, and how many clients I see that continue to work this way decades after they have been in business, it really resonates in my heart as a deep-seated problem in today’s high-paced, high-tech economy.
Looking back, I probably never understood what “Free Day,” a term coined by The Strategic Coach®, really meant. I might have counted any day that was a weekend a Free Day or a day off because I worked from home, didn’t meet with clients directly or only worked part of a day. Most people feel like 30-60 minutes of work on a single day is still a Free Day. Sadly, they sell themselves on a lie that profoundly affects the balance in their lives, their overall productivity and, most importantly, the harmony in their marriage and family unit. By definition, a Free Day is any 24 hour period of time where you do absolutely NOTHING work related. You don’t check your business e-mail. You don’t read business literature or books. You don’t clean up your home office paperwork or get ready for Monday. You don’t play quick catch-up. It is a day where you do everything and anything but business-related activities.
When I first got started roughly 10 years ago, I probably only took 5 real Free Days per year. They were most likely major holidays where I felt required to take off due to family pressures, etc. In the last 4-5 years, I have managed to take 150-160 true Free Days per year. In doing so, I have been able to see my business grow and evolve while still ensuring I I took enough time off for rejuvenation and life balance. I continue to do this even while my life/business coaching client base expands and I manage Sharp Innovations, Inc. through this economic downturn. Many other entrepreneurs in this position might operate in a way that produced a lot of hysterical activity and self-added stress.
Using the Entrepreneurial Time System™ forced me to become more accountable and more productive every day. I will explain the 3 main types of days below that, when used correctly, create the magic found in this system:
- Free Days – This is where the whole system starts. These are days that you take off and do NOTHING work related. You don’t do business e-mail, business reading, business strategy notes, home office clean-up, etc. You spend your day doing anything that you or your family enjoys. You rejuvenate yourself with a day detached completely from work.
- Focus Days – You define 3 top activities that you perform that produce the biggest results for your company. You spend 80%+ of your day doing nothing but these activities. The balance can be spent responding to urgent e-mail, or on putting out major fires with clients or your team, though many times you can achieve closer to a 100% Focus Day as you evolve. These days should be seen as A+ game days, so to speak, where you produce results for your company.
- Buffer Days – These days are probably the least favorite for entrepreneurs, leaders and managers, but are needed to make the system function properly. They are organized preparation days where you work with staff and clients on non-Focus activities, though you do it in a scheduled and organized day so you don’t operate every day at the whim of your team or clients when, often times, things can wait.
As I look at the business and life coaching clients I currently serve, I can see wide areas of common focus, including: management succession planning, team re-building, spiritual mentorship, sales/marketing consulting and strategic planning. However, the most common thread in my coaching has been teaching others this time system and watching it dynamically change their lives. If you want to find out more, I’d be glad to speak with you.
I help my coaching clients focus on matters like these so they can see their business become more efficient, profitable and scalable, if desired. I also help them achieve better balance professionally and personally so they can see their business truly work to support their life purpose and vision. If you want to find out more about how this could be leveraged in your world, or if you want to discuss a business problem you are facing, feel free to contact me or call me personally at 717-615-2274. You are also welcome to share this article or other resources found on my blog (visionandpassion.wordpress.com) with those you care about. Feel free to contact me if you or an associate would like to join my blog or receive this article as a PDF.