“Everyone on this planet has the same 24 hours a day. The question is, “what do you do with yours?”
If that quote didn’t trigger you, maybe this one might:
“You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé”
jokes aside, if you are an executive in transition, I want you to embrace this sobering truth:
The upside of transitioning from employment is you now own your time. The downside of transitioning from employment is you now own your time.
The greatest determinant of success after employment is not your qualifications, net worth, or network. The single greatest determinant of success after employment is how well you invest your time.
You and only you can make sure that you invest your 24 hours each day to yield the greatest personal, professional, relational, financial, and impact returns on investment.
How do you do that?
You identify your priorities, create a plan, systematize your actions, and maintain laser focus.
Let’s take each one in turn:
Identify Your Priorities
In Do You Have What It Takes to Thrive After Employment?, I shared 5 critical steps to establish your professional credibility, not as an executive under the brands of the organizations you used to work for, but based on the strength of your own personal brand.
These were: 1. Caste Your Vision, 2. Set 360 Goals, 3. Get Equipped, 4. Chart Your Path, and 5. Take Action.
Planning how to invest your time to thrive after employment requires you to start with the end in mind.
What do I want to achieve in all areas of life? Why
Who do I need to become in order to do so successfully?
What, when, how, with whom, for how long will I invest my time to develop into that person the successfully meets my goals to fulfill my vision
The answers to the third question need to be carefully thought out because, as John C. Maxwell, the world’s leadership authority, says,
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
What are you filling your days with? Don't assume you know. Find out the specifics today.
Below is a link to the 24-Hour Audit tool that my executive coaching clients use to become better stewards of their time. I believe it will help you too.
You can access 24-hour Audit at www.modesta.africa/tools
Interrogating what you do with your 24 hours with the intent of prioritizing activities that will give you the best 360 results in your work, life, and impact.
Once that is clear, you need to anchor them in a plan.
Create Your Plan
What will you do? When? For how long? to effectively and profitably invest your time to yield the results you want for your life?
It helps you group activities in categories so that you can effectively allocate time to each.
There are 10 categories of activities in your life as an executive:
Sleep (who needs it? You do)
Rest (very different from sleeping)
Prayer & Meditation
Quiet Work Time (am I right?)
Revisit your 24-Hours from your 24-Hour Tool and allocate note how much time you dedicate to each of the above 10 categories of activities (a) Daily (b) Weekly (c) Monthly.
How does your time allocation to each category align with the goals you have set for yourself?
What needs to change, where, so that you can become the 360 Leader that does not sacrifice one area of life for another?
How will you protect the time you have allocated to those activities so that you don’t let others people and things encroach on them?
I think you’ll also find these 3 Tips to Become Super Productive helpful to creating your plan, and what we will address next, Systemizing Your Actions:
Systemizing Your Actions
Once you are clear about your priorities based on your Non-Negotiable Values, you’ll want to protect them at all costs.
During coaching conversations with executive leaders on how best to reclaim their time, energy, productivity, and results, they often stumble at creating healthy personal and professional boundaries.
Being at the top, they feel that they must be everything to everyone, all the time, or it’ll reflect badly on them as a leader.
They fear that if they set limits, they will appear incapable of rising to challenges, or a bad leader for not doing everything for their people. So they trudge on, at work, at home, in society 24/7, 365 until things start crashing down.
The problem is, if you have allowed yourself to be held hostage by other people’s priorities, agendas, and demands while working for a company, you will most likely continue doing so when you step out on your own.
Unless you can make and maintain a switch.
Experts will tell you that the best way to anchor behavior is through routine, and the best way to maintain your routine is by building it into a habit.
In “Discipline is Exhausting: There is a Better Way to Achieve Your Goals”, I introduce the notion that you can systematize your habits to run on autopilot.
Here is how to do it to maximize your time investment daily:
1. Allocate times of day and days of the week for specific high-gain activities (these are activities that yield the greatest results to achieve your 360 Goals)
2. Create people (family, friends, colleagues) and tech (reminders, alarms, smart home and work devices) systems to support you to maintain your priorities and routines all day, every day, like clockwork
3. Review and adjust your systems according to your prioritized Non-Negotiable Values so that you can have laser focus!
That brings us to the last step to investing your time after employment to make sure you get the maximum returns on your investment for the 369 Goals you set for yourself.
Maintain Laser Focus
No matter how good you are at planning, life will happen.
You will be presented with many opportunities to divert your focus from the plan and system you have put in place to invest in the priorities and activities that yield the greatest returns for you.
You will need to fight yourself and others (diplomatically, of course) to keep first things first.
Before you embark on anything, here are 8 Questions to Ask Yourself for Stress-Free Decision Making:
Keep it Together
Laozi reminds us that,
“Time is a created thing. To say, “I don’t have time”, is to say, “I don’t want to.”
You have 24 hours in a day. When you were employed, at least 12, but more likely 16, of those hours were planned for you.
You are now venturing off on your own. As much as you have the freedom to do what you want, you just be intentional and intense about telling your time where to go and what to bring you.
If you don’t, you will be unpleasantly surprised when you see that despite your top qualifications, powerful networks, and perfect plans, you still don’t achieve what you set out to accomplish.
And you will have no one to blame but yourself.
Here's my parting advice:
1. Invest your time wisely, it is the only resource that once spent, you can never get back.
2. Maintain laser focus, only say, “Yes” to what propels you towards your goals and vision.
3. For everything and everyone else, learn and get comfortable, saying, “No”.