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Why I don’t work Fridays?

and it is not because I am a mum…

I wear many hats and I am often asked ‘how do you do it?”! What’s the secret to balancing it all? Where do you find the time or energy?

How about I share with you a secret.

I enjoy listening to music and having a boogie from time to time. Ask me what songs or lyrics I like, and I will not be able to tell you. Play me a tune though, without the words, and I can identify a song quickly. Why? Well, I love listening to the music for its rhythm and beat. Its the pace and cadence of the notes and sounds that can influence my mood and how I feel.

The same can be true for how we live our life, operate our business, lead our teams, and most importantly – build trust. The cadence or pace or rhythm we apply to what, when and how we lead ourselves and others around us, can determine how we live and feel about life.

I have learnt over the years that to achieve the optimal cadence, it is all about the hard boring stuff like plans, routines, rituals, and habits. These get built up and strengthened over time. It does not involve any of the ‘fluffy stuff’ that you do once in a blue moon to feel good on a bad day.

It requires you to get up close and personal with the truth. Get comfy with what works and feels good, and what does not. Whether you like it or not. This is especially true when it comes to those habits or routines you love but do not help you – like 2 morning coffees or cancelling team meetings because everyone is busy. FYI – I love coffee but my body doesn’t. I am 2 weeks with no coffee…..and struggling against the urge but feeling so good! It would have been 4 weeks if I didn’t have a weak moment over the holidays.

There were a few people in December saying to me that they don’t want to be so busy or have so much going on. Their cadence was too high for too long and unsustainable. There are days, weeks or months in the year that are just full on crazy busy whether you expect it or not. Then there are those times when your calendar is not so full, and you can cruise and enjoy a slower pace. We need the ups and downs. Trying to have a ‘balance’ so the scales always show a neutral number, in my experience, is not achievable. If this were to be true and achievable then music would be rather boring don’t you think?

Having a rhythm to your life or operating at a your preferred cadence is a better way to approach self-leadership, team leadership and in general the ideal lifestyle. Let’s stop treating the term ‘Work-Life Balance’ like a one hit wonder. The conversation needs to be broader than that.

Here are some tried and tested quick tips to figuring out your ideal cadence:

  1. Numerous published articles and research has proven that Monday mornings at 11am are the most productive time in our week, followed closely by Tuesday mornings. Productivity drops after lunch and after 4pm it is almost non-existent. Same goes for Fridays. When do you feel you’re most productive at work?  Make your calendar work to your advantage. It’s why I don’t like working Fridays. 
  2. Have an electronic calendar or a wall calendar with all your cyclical personal, family and work events. You know those things you can pretty much can rely on happening the same time every day, month, quarter, or year. Then highlight the gaps or peaks to see show when you have ‘cruise time’ or when you need ‘push the foot to the floor’. I am talking about things like planning sessions, haircuts, kids’ activities, KPI reviews, birthdays, parties, school holidays, team meetings.
  3. Get honest about your health and wellbeing, and commit to what you need to do to get more energy. I think of my mind and body like a car. Its performance is based on the KMs it has clocked up, the quality of the petrol (food), oil (hydration) and servicing (movement or rest) it gets. Stress is a good thing by the way but you need to keep the petrol and oil tanks topped up with the good stuff.
  4. Communicate and share your thoughts and plans with your family, friends, and colleagues. Involve them in the conversation and planning. Are the times you want to cruise going to be well received at work? Do you need to negotiate on some things? Like planning for time off and changes to deadlines.
  5. Commit, Review and tweak as needed. Whatever you decide to do, be committed to doing something and following through.  It won’t be right straight away, and you will need to make changes in response to any life events and feedback you receive.  Think of it like you’re renovating your house. It has taken me about 3-4 years to get a good formula for me and even then, it can change without warning.   For example – I thought my Friday activities could be mapped out each week consistently, that is until my toddler son decided, 2 months earlier than expected, that a daytime nap was no longer needed. Well, that changed the game completely…no longer do I have 2 hours for PD or catch-up work on a Friday.  That is unless it is before 7am or after 7pm.

Last year was like being dropped off in a forest of trees, spun around blind folded, then told to wait for more information but keep yourself busy and we will give you parts of the map along the way. Some of us coped well and made more money than ever before. While others are still trying to figure out how to get out and what direction to start walking.

After last year, I am looking closely at my cadence for work, the team, and the family. I would like a more even upbeat tempo, rather than a raging rock hit, with some big long highs and lows. I didn’t realise how much rest I really needed until I spent 2.5 days enjoying uninterrupted sea views with no internet. It was bliss.

I didn’t really think about cadence much until a former colleague shared their envy of my capacity to churn out work and come up with solutions. I apparently astounded them some days. Quite the compliment. Then when a client mentioned a similar comment not too long ago, it was a timely reminder that it is important to consider pace of work and rhythm when planning projects and working with others day-to-day.

While you work out your annual plan and identify the BHAGs or targets for 2021, also discuss and consider with others the pace of your work and life. This could be a powerful conversation at your next team meeting. You never know, your colleagues could have some interesting insights about you or themselves that may make it easier to see the forest for the trees. ????

Here’s to another year of navigating the employment journey with you.
Happy New Year!