Top of the list of the most dreaded expressions? 24/7. The concept that you can be reached at any time for any reason by almost anyone. It’s hard to believe that the business world actually functioned back when you left a message with a receptionist or waited until Monday morning to address an emergency. Today, our customers or clients expect us to be available whenever they need us. And they are right.
If we care about their business, and ours, we have to be able to solve problems or give counsel whenever it’s important—and that doesn’t always happen between 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. In fact, it usually doesn’t.
To help keep some order in—and stress out of—a 24/7 life, I’ve adopted a few axioms.
Under schedule. Nothing adds to stress more than a crowded schedule. Delegate, say “no” or prioritize to keep your schedule lean and doable. When the unexpected strikes, you won’t be buried in projects. And, with a little practice, you can predict how much time you need to leave open in your calendar.
Stay in shape for the sprint. Your high school gym teacher was right. Healthy eating habits, enough sleep and exercise go a long way to give you that stamina when you need to put in those unexpected 16-hour days.
Have a backup team. At Epoch 5, everyone works as a team. Knowing that a senior person can step in and seamlessly solve a client’s problem has been better than Lunesta in helping me sleep at night and schedule vacations.
Sequential management. Having several “almost completed” projects running at the same time delays the completion of all of them and is the main ingredient for a stress omelet when you get that emergency call.
Reward yourself with the gift of time. The ultimate treat—I download books from my library at Suffolkwave.org so it’s possible to listen to the latest business books or my next book club selection as I drive around Long Island each day. The best part? It’s free. All you need is a library card.
While I occasionally complain about the 24/7 commitments, the excitement of the unexpected more than makes up for the inconvenience of that 11pm emergency call on a Friday night.