Far too many of us are caught firefighting all the time. Never getting enough time to plan to make the future a better place.
During an overseas speaking tour, I was with a good friend one Sunday afternoon, visiting a church fair. We had run out of things to do. Among the stalls was a person selling new lounge chairs. We soon got into conversation with the salesmen. My friend Clive said, “I think I have one of these in the shed, but I have never used it.” The salesman, too honest for his own good said “So do I, and likewise, it is never used.” Both men were too busy to use their lounger and contemplate the future.
When I arrived back at my office I realised that I, too, had an unused lounge chair and was not spending enough time focusing on my future. Hence on Friday mornings, I move my laptop from my home office to the lounge, bring in my lounge chair and then begin to undertake tasks that shape my future.
I met a partner, in an accounting practice, who had attended some expensive practice development course. Having invested £5,000 in training, he had not implemented anything. So, one week, he stayed at home on the Thursday morning and focused on one thing to implement. Emails were sent, and phone calls made. Before he had even arrived at the office that afternoon, the new procedure was in place. He felt so energized by the success, that he has since stayed at home every Thursday morning to focus on implementing change. These two lessons help shape my blue-sky Fridays.
Suggested Rules for a blue-sky Friday
The rules I adopt during this session are:
- To focus on the “important but not yet urgent tasks,” The report that needs writing, the presentation that needs careful preparation, the research into new system etc
- No answering phone calls, texts, emails
- No time spent on Facebook, Linked-in, or other addictive social media
- To make strategic phone calls to organise site visits to see new systems, staff training,
- To write important emails and reports
Working from home
We all have from time to time worked from home, and some of the readers will have already negotiated this as a regular activity. This is particularly important due to long commutes and the need to create more blue-sky Friday time. Time to think about, and make, the future happen.
If you are having difficulties to persuade your boss, here are the following suggestions:
- Make sure you and your boss are very proficient at using video meetings using software, where you can share your screen at the same time as being seen and heard. I use GoToMeeting for this purpose.
- Now take this technology into a virtual meeting scenario where some or all participants are remote. Remember to avoid more than five participants in a meeting.
- Bill Murphy Jr. in his internet article “7 Steps to Persuade Your Boss to Let You Work From Home” suggests you should work at home when you are feeling slightly unwell, work at home and demonstrate both the productivity and connectivity.
- When arguing the case make sure it is not about you, show your manager how you can be more productive.
- Have a commitment to come in on that day if there has been a problem that cannot be dealt with remotely. However, if you have worked out video meetings you will find these call backs infrequent.
- Maintain windows of communication. As you are doing some Blue-sky thinking it is important that phones and email is off for these two-hour blocks. Your boss could have your home number if you are needed in the middle of your thinking time.
- Gather evidence to support your case, including the need to be more attractive to candidates who already have a home working option
- Make sure after every blue-sky Friday some output is visible. It might be worth including a fixed date in the footer to emphasize this report, brief etc was a result of a productive blue-sky Friday.
- If you have tried out the above, Bill Murphy Jr, in his article, has a suggestion:
“However, if you’re running into static, figure out the real reason why. (Here’s one common hurdle: Someone else in the past persuaded the boss to let him or her work from home and failed to exceed expectations.) The point is to figure out the real obstacles, be resourceful, and find a way around them. And, if the only issue is that your boss is a control freak, well, at least you’ll know for sure that it’s time to start looking for a new job.