The keyword here is “self-discipline”
“That’s it! You need a Time Out!” This is a common expression that a parent will use when their child has either done something bad or is on the verge of doing something bad. I know…I have heard my son and daughter-in-law use it with our 3 year old grandson. I read on a parent help site the following – “Time out is a very effective discipline technique.” The key word here is discipline or as you will read later on “self-discipline”.
“Time Out” is also an action or tool that sports teams use to either take a breather or discuss where they are at a particular moment in a game; to discuss a possible change in strategy and / or tactics or, slow down the surge or momentum of their opponent. Depending upon the sport, each team has a set amount of time outs they can use during the course of a game. When used correctly and at the right time, it is not unusual to see a shift in the momentum of the game in favor of the team who called the “time out”. (The same holds true with 3 year olds).
So, how does all of this matter to an executive or business owner? It’s simple really.
A day doesn’t go by that a business leader doesn’t find themselves in a “crunch”, crisis, off track or overwhelmed. It comes with the territory (and some believe – like me – that these types of situation test the depth of their leadership and problem solving skills). Some respond by plodding along at the same thing; some even plod along at the same thing but…at a faster pace and others just get stalled, get distracted and create another crisis somewhere else. Eventually, they all learn that their decision as to how to handle the issue did not work and they still have the problem (usually it has gotten worse and out of control).
What would have been a better choice? Call a “Time Out”! Take the time to evaluate the issue; see if you are still on track or need to make an adjustment to your game plan. Take 10 minutes of uninterrupted time (this is really important so that you be 100% focused on the issue at hand) and plan out your next step, in a logical way based upon the facts at hand. This is what winning teams do and the good news is that you have no limit on the number of times you can call a “time out”. However, to call and use a time out in an effective way, you must enhance your self-discipline skills. It is your self-discipline skills that will alert you when you must take action. It is your self-discipline skills that also allow you to maximize your talents. I read once that talent without self-discipline is like watching an octopus on roller skates – a lot of motion but very little consistent and effective forward progress.
A word of caution – if you find yourself constantly calling time outs, then you have a bigger and more serious challenge – you are probably lacking a vision; goals and any form of a meaningful time management (you management) and planning skills. If that’s the case, be honest with yourself and address it as soon as possible – your business and your health hang in the balance. If you put it off it will prove fatal.
What should you do now? Well to get started, try this – during the course of the day, call a time out every two hours and take those uninterrupted 10 minutes to assess what you are doing; to confirm they are the right things; to adjust if needed and to confirm that you are doing those things that will get you closer to achieving your goals. Make your last time out of each day the time you assess how you did and to plan for the coming tomorrow. If you can build this habit over the next 30 days, on a consistent, persistent and systematic basis, you will eventually no longer need to schedule your time outs (although it’s probably a good thing to keep on doing, maybe not as frequently as every two hours). But, you will know when to call them going forward, at the right time, because you will have learned the skill and how to properly execute it.
If you follow the process I have outlined, you will find that the investment that you make in putting yourself into “time out” will be more than offset by increases in your own personal productivity and how you lead your business. Think about it, you have nothing to lose. You probably waste 10 minutes every two hours anyway. Why not recapture that time and turn it into an opportunity. It works in sports and can work for you – if only you want it to and you commit to developing the “time out” habit.
Feel silly trying this? What’s silly about doing things that will lead to more success? Need help to get started? That’s an easy one to solve. Call me and I’ll buy you the timer?