There have been many great examples of maximizing time in my life. My family did not waste time. Growing up working at the farm or in other business ventures caused us to plan our day around something I call “Formal” time. Formal time is the time when you are “on.” It is the time in front of customers, giving presentations, working on a projects, etc. Growing up with a strong work ethic gave me a good perspective on using our formal time wisely.
Time is the most consistent asset we all share. We all get up in the morning, normally drive somewhere, have lunch, work, drive home, have personal or family time, and then sleep. You may get up earlier or later, work at home instead of an office or do other responsibilities more than others, but the general commonality is that we consistently do the same things over and over again.
Yet there is another type of time that will impact your success more than any other. We call that time “Informal Time.” Informal time is typically your preparation time or down time… from what you do in the morning before you start work, to what you do in your car and the minutes before you sleep. The truth is that the informal time affects the formal time more than you can imagine.
How many times have we heard this, “I don’t care what you do on our own time. When you are at work I want to see you…”
That is exactly the problem. It is our down time that impacts the success of leaders. What goes in, comes out. The informal times are when most of the filling up occurs. The formal times are when most of what is in us comes out. That is why I am trying to make a strong case that your informal time will impact you far greater than your formal time. In fact, in a study we commissioned of 100 corporate leaders, we found that those who use their informal time are 75% more effective in their leadership ability.
It makes sense doesn’t it? Think about an athlete. Those who use the off-season to work out and strengthen are typically more productive over the long term on game day.
Informal time is considered exercise time, drive time, lunch time, starting time, personal and family time, etc. When you start to understand the importance of time I believe you will begin intentionally planning your activities more wisely. Here are some examples:
- Exercise Time – What are you listening to while you excercise? Mix up your listening portfolio to include leadership lessons.
- Drive Time – The average American travels 34 minutes to work one way (68 minutes round trip). If you are listening primarily to the news, you may start your day with a negative or cynical outlook. If you are consumed by talk radio, you may be ostericising 50% of your workforce because of our partisan society.
- Desk Time – When you start your day with email, you are on your way to a train wreck, especially if you get bad news to start the day out. Instead, start the day out with inspiration in a biography or reading of some sort. We created a program, called Everyday Leader, that gives leaders perspective as they begin their days.
- Family Time and so on
The point is to plan your informal time for growth and watch your success grow. This is very similar to watching what you eat and the portion sizes of your meals. You will see results as soon as you downsize instead of “supersize” and when you begin consuming more healthy materials.
Plan your downtime. Organize your informal time so that your formal leadership time will be more effective.