No B.S Friday: If you’re maxing out, the wheels are going to come off at some point.
Have you built enough slack and redundancy into your life?
This has been a bit of a lesson for me.
It’s something that’s come reasonably intuitively for my business, but it’s been a very difficult lesson to learn in my personal life.
When you’re running an organisation, it’s easy to think about redundancy and contingency planning.
I remember I once did a tour of a print-shop where I was getting some materials made.
This wasn’t your corner store printer. This was the printer those smaller printers turned to when an order they couldn’t handle walked through the door.
These guys were the big boys.
And they had some serious equipment. Like massive printers, worth half a million dollars each.
And I remember they had one of these things, attached to a winch and elevated over the factory floor, just hanging from the roof.
This was the back-up printer. The sole purpose of this printer was to step in if the main printer went down.
If the main printer broke down, obviously they’d turn it off and back on again, but if that didn’t work, it’s probably something that would take at least several days to fix.
And a printing business without a printer is not a business at all.
And so yeah, they had a massive printer worth half a million dollars, just hanging from the roof… just in case.
And it made total sense.
You need to have a bit of slack built into your systems… just in case.
Now, that’s obvious with a business, but what about in your personal life?
Have you built slack into your schedule?
Many of us don’t – well the many of us that step outside the box and start running our own show – whether that’s running a business or being a professional investor.
Many of us run our lives at 100% capacity – if not more!
I did. For years. It took me a long time to learn that I needed to build in some contingency.
I couldn’t plan to run myself at 100%.
Because, inevitably, something would come up, and then I’d be stuffed.
Especially when I had a family. Family life is constantly dealing with the unexpected.
And so slowly, I learnt that if I ran myself at 100% – if I filled every hour of my schedule with tasks – then at some point something would come up, and the wheels would fall off.
I learnt that I had to run myself at a comfortable 80-85%.
And the discipline there was in saying no. It was saying no to taking things on, even though in the moment I had the capacity. I had the hours. I could step up.
But I had to discipline myself into saying no – into running my self with a bit of slack in the schedule.
And the real magic here is what happened with that surplus time.
What happened with that 15% that was just sitting idle?
Well, it just became me-time. It became sweet nothing time. It became time just to have a coffee in the sun and mull on some of life’s big questions.
(Which ironically, ends up being incredibly productive time!)
It became some of the sweetest hours in my schedule.
And once I clocked into that sweetness, it actually became easier to defend it from the thousand and one things that wanted to encroach on the schedule.
So that’s my advice to people these days.
Don’t run yourself at 100%. Keep some slack in the system. Let it be easy.
And just enjoy the sweetness that it opens up.