One of the issues I've had to work through in both my business and personal life, some would say I have many, is learning to prioritise my time. This has meant learning to say no to things that distract me from my priorities.
It was usually the most important things that were being interrupted, for example, I would have set aside time to plan a project, or enjoy some downtime with the children when a request to attend a meeting or a function would come in. I struggled to say no to these requests, and therefore compromised the most important parts of my life.
One of the strategies I implemented was to respond to any such request with the answer, 'let me sleep on it and I’ll get back to you tomorrow'. Surprisingly, no one abused me or felt let down by this approach. It also gave me time to consider my response and to talk to those who might be impacted by my answer, such as my wife (that’ll get me brownie points)! Sleeping on it allowed me to make decisions I was comfortable with and that were in my best interest.
As I look at recent events such as Ben Bernanke’s recent address which slightly hinted at a reduction in quantitative easing or Fonterra’s recent recall of potentially contaminated product, I am amazed by the huge reaction of the markets. If you studied history, you will find that often the immediate reactions to world events are unlogical and in hindsight, often down right crazy.
Look at what happened to US air travel after the twin towers bombing. Suddenly no one wanted to fly to New York and as a result, several airlines went under. In reality, there was never a safer time to fly to New York as suddenly a whole lot of security measures were introduced that weren’t there before. I remember reading of how one family used this opportunity to have an extremely cheap and safe holiday to New York.
I don’t mean to excuse any of the behaviours that have led to recent events but come on – don’t you think there has been an overreaction? I know it is the media’s job to find stories and make a big deal about them but we get to choose our own reactions. I think our choices are better, and in hindsight we look wiser, if we are able to suppress our initial reactions, which are often emotional and irrational, to take a more considered view.
Taking this concept one step further, I have learnt that I can actually 'sleep on things' before they happen, such as, by planning, surveying my environment and reading widely, I can be proactive in my approach to my schedule and my choices meaning that opportunities arise in the least expected places. Then it is just a matter of having the courage to pursue them, but more on this later.
Generally I find that after sleeping on it, increased clarity comes in the morning. How could you create proactive, 'sleep on it' moments?