Working Smarter: Making The Most of Your 24 Hours
By Tricia Sciortino, CEO of BELAY
Fifteen years ago, I was the No. 1 District Manager at a large retail chain and for 12 years, my job had me traveling and working 80-hour weeks, including weekends and holidays.
Then, a pivotal life moment: I had my first daughter.
And I – like many other parents – found myself struggling to balance my demanding career with my new role as a mother. And after a year of trying desperately to juggle both – being as a present a parent I could be while leaving nearly everything I had on the road week in and week out, I had had enough.
I walked in one day and gave notice, having no idea where I’d go and what I’d do next. All I did know, however, was that wasn’t it.
Three months later, after a move from New York to North Carolina where I knew no one and had absolutely no idea what I’d do, I met and started working as an assistant for someone for five years.
That someone – Bryan Miles – came to me in the midst of a tanking economy with a proposition: He was leaving his current organization to start his own business – what would become BELAY – and asked me to join him.
I should’ve said no. But my gut said yes, so I did, too.
From its first employee as a Virtual Assistant to now serving as its CEO, my ‘why’ for brazenly walking into that office and quitting my retail job those many years ago remains the same: my family.
So regardless of the acronym alphabet soup that has sandwiched my name over the years – VA, VP, COO, CEO – I am fiercely committed to making the most of my working hours because when it’s time for my family, I won’t compromise.
And I achieve it with very intentional scheduling and time-blocking to maximize my productivity during my working hours.
Scheduling & Time-Blocking: Making The Most Of 24 Hours
So much to do, so little time.
But really, maximizing productivity comes down to — in large part, anyway — strategizing your week by prioritizing their tasks to schedule time for meetings, activities, appointments, deep work, and administrative duties. It also includes blocking for fundamental items like project work, scheduled days off, family and friends, and even fitness or other health goals.
Establishing your Ideal Work Week is an effective way to keep your priorities in line, increase productivity, and make your work easier because you'll be better equipped to anticipate what lies around the corner.
What This Looks Like In Application
If you're not familiar with the rock, pebbles, and sand jar analogy, the short version is that our time is like a jar, in which we must find room for all our rocks, representing the most important projects and things you have going on; the pebbles, representing the things in your life that matter, but that you could live without; and the sand, representing the remaining filler tasks.
My preference is to have three or fewer meetings every day. Knowing that, my virtual executive assistant will schedule my days and block time accordingly.
Using the Ideal Work Week and time-blocking helps me …
It looks a little something like this …
Sow Today, Reap Tomorrow
I understand that as a leader, when you actually stop and think about all the things you do every day, all the things begin to add up – and quickly. I understand that, at least initially, trying to compartmentalize everything into tidy, neat blocks of time is overwhelming at best, and seemingly impossible at worst.
But you can do this. I balked. I pushed back. I still get my hand slapped by my VA when I slip into old, bad habits – though not as often as before.
So once you've created your ideal work week – and this is the tough part – you have to commit to it and live it.
You can only maximize your productivity at work and have time to cherish and capitalize on the other – arguably more important – parts of your life when you commit.
And for those of us who need the extra support – read: hand-slap – from an executive assistant to maximize our productivity, my book, Rise Up & Lead Well: How Leveraging An Assistant Will Change Your Life & Maximize Your Time, has got you covered.
In it, I share everything I’ve learned – sitting on both sides of the desk – about how to work successfully with an assistant so you can, too.
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