I was sitting on my couch at my home the other day after a busy week of being a business coach and was experiencing a sense of being overwhelmed by my kids. I have three children, ages 8, 6, and 2, and I love being a father. Hanging out with my kids is one of my favorite things. In this particular moment, however, each one was fighting aggressively for my attention and asking countless questions. There was screaming, whining, laughter, tears, and about any other emotion and sound that a human can produce. My 2-year-old even took his diaper off and decided to go pee in the backyard. It was a hectic moment, to say the least. As I became aware of being overwhelmed, there was this separate part in my mind that started to ponder, why is this exhausting me and why am I not doing anything about it? Suddenly it hit me that I was experiencing decision fatigue. I was so overwhelmed with wanting to address every question and issue that my kids were presenting, as quickly as possible, that my mind became incapable of making any decisions.
The average U.S. adult spends almost half of every day interacting with the media.
In our world today, technology is involved in almost every part of our lives. Our ability to be reached at any hour of the day has created a funnel of information overload. According to Nielsen, the average U.S. adult spends almost half of every day interacting with the media. Technology allows us to get live information right in our pocket in real-time. This is what I as a business coach would call… a problem. The problem with our brains as we allow all of this information into our day is that it takes away from our ability to focus on the things that actually matter to us. If you are going to succeed in your business you need to bring an insane amount of intentionality to your schedule, and specifically how much information you allow to get to you throughout the day. If you do not set some high standards in this area, then you will get to the point of decision fatigue in your business and find yourself making bad decisions or stalling out.
Can your employees or customers reach you at any time? Are you constantly bombarded with questions that did not need to have an immediate answer? Is your phone in a perpetual state of vibration because of all the notifications you allow yourself to receive? If you can relate to any of these things or have the self-awareness to recognize that you are overwhelmed by the immense amount of data you are being exposed to each day, then you need to sit down right now and make some changes. In order for you to be the most effective leader of your business, make good decisions, and have a team capable of accomplishing the objective of your company, then you need to create a consistent schedule now.
Start By Adding Rocks
What you want to do is create a calendar and you start by adding “rocks”. Rocks are the things that must get done consistently that are your highest and best use as an owner, that you put into your schedule and you stick to come hell or high water. Rocks do not move. As you create these rocks, you must determine if the rock requires a distraction-free environment or not. If it does, then you need to make sure that you turn your phone off during that time and communicate with your team that the time is off-limits.
Once the rocks are established, and the team understands the times that are off-limits, then you want to establish set meetings or huddles at specific times each day that you are willing to devote brainpower to answering the questions of your team. As a business coach I recommend setting a time in the mornings and time in the afternoons. Make it clear to your team that they are not to ask you questions outside of those times unless it is an emergency. Define what an emergency is for your team. Creating this schedule is foundational to the success of your business. Once these times are set, then you must stick to them. Your team will only follow the schedule if you do. If you are constantly backtracking on what you have communicated, then the system doesn’t work. If you leave your phone on during the times you have set to turn it off then the system won’t work. If you do stick to this plan, what you will find is that your organization will begin to function more efficiently and you will have taken a huge step towards time freedom.
What I ended up doing with my kids was bring them all into my bedroom and had them sit on my bed (I had the 2-year-old put his diaper back on first). I then told them that we were going to go one at a time, oldest to youngest, and I would answer one question, or listen to one story, then move on to the next kid. I then told them that we were going to, henceforth, each get 5 minutes alone with dad when he gets home from work each day going from oldest to youngest. This would be a time where we could hang out together, talk about their day, answer their questions, and essentially help them to have a plan of action for getting some much needed time with dad. Once each one had their time then we would all hang out and have fun together. The results have been that the kids are able to process their excitement about dad being home more effectively and are able to have some more control over their emotions because they know that they will get their time with dad shortly. For your business, you can achieve similar results if you just establish these boundaries for what data you allow to hit your brain and when. Make that step today.