Hands up if you took time off during this holiday season.

Hands up if you REALLY took time off.

Ok, let’s ask a different question.

Hands up if you have had your hands completely off your business phone and computer.

Not very many of you, are there.

You see, time off for the average employee means not responding to work emails, calls or texts, nor jumping in to troubleshoot. Time off means lying back on a banana chair pondering whether to have your watermelon sliced, or chopped.

Now, assuming you even got to the banana chair, were you surrounded by paperwork? Were the alerts on your phone going berserk? Was your computer screen screaming emails?

Well, read on, because you are about to make some New Year’s resolutions that will change your life.

I’m not talking about increasing your bottom line, or how to get rid of the 30 surplus staff you have, I’m talking about simple resolutions that will ensure better day-to-day results. Once you achieve the latter, you’ll have the time to plan and implement the former.

  1. Close your open-door policy

    Teach staff to resolve their own conflicts
    While it was all very cutesy and kumbaya to encourage staff to drop in any time and chew the fat with the boss, the information shared by a steady stream of interlopers is largely more anecdotal than useful and the distraction is counterproductive.
    Ideas conceived on the run during a drop-in visit often lead to a waste of time and money, while running to the boss with every grievance is not teaching staff conflict resolution.

  2. Make someone important feel important

    Show you care
    Set aside half an hour every day to engage with employees on the floor and build relationships. It may be a quick hello at a desk, a chat in the kitchen, or a chinwag at reception. Being visible helps staff to feel acknowledged and gives you insight to the varying personalities reporting to you.

  3. Schedule your emails

    Turn off the alert and get back to work
    Spend an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening only to read and respond to emails. Switching tasks to respond to every email pin is a distraction and ineffectual. Set your software to ‘receive’ only during those times and let your employees know that these are the only windows of opportunity they can expect a response. If an urgent response is required advise them to pick up the phone.

  4. Find more time to think creatively

    You are paid to accomplish
    Schedule at least an hour of uninterrupted thinking every day to devise strategies to grow the company. Trigger new ideas by spending another 20 minutes out of the office to walk around the block or go for a coffee.

  5. Take up an interest

    Broaden your mind with different people
    Whether it be learning the guitar, another language, or learning the difference between a gardenia and a hydrangea, meeting people outside your working life will introduce you to different attitudes and ideas that will fire your imagination to develop new strategies.

  6. Listen

    Remember, you are not always the smartest in the room
    Get access to new ideas and perspectives by incorporating alternate views. When stakeholders, customers and employees believe they are being heard it encourages them to fully commit and collaborate while encouraging you to think outside the box.

  7. Forget multitasking

    You lose time switching between tasks
    While you may think you’re a genius switching between tasks, science has proven it is not effective, nor efficient. More time is needed and more errors are made to complete the tasks you’re switching between than focussing on one task at a time.
    In fact, only about 2% of the population is capable of effectively multitasking, the rest of us are just decreasing our attention spans and making us less productive.

  8. Stop over planning

    Give yourself time to troubleshoot
    Meticulously planning every hour of your day to maximise productivity doesn’t allow time for the unexpected. Instead, schedule just four or five hours of actual work each day giving you flexibility to troubleshoot, pick up a sick child, grab that coffee or go for that walk.

  9. Plan your week, not your day

    Spread yourself out
    While there may not be enough hours in a day, there are certainly enough in a week. Get out the diary each Friday afternoon and spread your priorities across the next week to get everything done that must be done and give you time to manage day-to-day tasks.

  10. Give yourself a break

    Don’t sleep with your smart phone
    Being available 24/7 triggers perpetual exhaustion and is the cognitive equivalent to coming to work drunk. Sleep is vital to clean up the accumulated toxins from the day and rejuvenate your body and mind. Plan ahead and hit the pillow at a reasonable time at the same hour every night.