In my experience, when you want something done, you ask a busy woman.
The most valuable thing we have to manage is our time, and the busier you are, the more you have to juggle and balance.
When I sold my business in 2009, I had three months off work and somehow managed to still be in my dressing gown at midday.
Only a few weeks before, I’d been managing a company, motivating a workforce, raising a family and building a business that I’d just sold for several billion rand – now I only had to run a home, I just couldn’t get myself organised!
That’s what the luxury of time can do to your organisation skills. There was a lack of urgency in everything as I didn’t have to do it, and the relentless attitude I’d lived my life by, the attitude that had previously dominated its structure, was gone.
When I’m working, I do the things that need to be done when they need to be done. I’m a doer, so I close things swiftly and efficiently, and I have a lot of energy and clear focus to see things through.
But how do you work out what goes on the endless to-do list and how do you make time for the things that don’t need doing but you want to do? Like seeing friends, going to a show or out to dinner? I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to prioritise everything, whether you’re working or not, so you can get out of the way the things that need to be done, to make time for the things you want to get done.
If you leave things to build up, the amount of time needed to resolve them later is greater. If you pay the bill or file the paperwork on the day it arrives, it’s just one piece of paper. Wait a month and it’s endless pieces of paper. Here are my tactics:
- I get 500 e-mails a day and I send 200. Quick answers such as “yes” or “no” are easy and done instantly. I delete my inbox with dealt e-mails every day; those that are carried forward are the only e-mails that have been unresolved that day, and need follow-up or more thought.
- I leave big documents until the end of the day so I can read them and give feedback when I’m travelling and I am not driving– I love the theory of relaxing, progressing and working all at the same time.
- Managing my diary is a skill I leave to my PA, but I carry a paper diary as I like to see my week laid out. I use different colours to fill in the diary with my different commitments so I can see if I’ve got the spread of my time right. Too much black ink and not enough pink means I’m going to be miserably tired at the weekend!
- I say “no” when I mean “no” and “yes” when I mean “yes”. So every event I go to, I want to go to, as opposed to have to go to.
- My weekend rule is, it’s a time for rest. Very rarely do I make plans, as it’s the ONLY time during the week I can escape my rigid schedule. Recently, I’ve been doing an hour’s yoga then going for a long walk with my best friend. Maximising my fitness and friend time – genius!
About Karren Brady:
- Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge CBE is CEO of West Ham United Football Club, one of the leading London Premier League football clubs, as well as Senior Non-Executive Director of Syco Entertainment, a company jointly owned by Simon Cowell and Sony and leading retail multi-national Taveta Investments. – karrenbrady.com