There are quite a few phrases that are meant as lessons in life. "You are what you eat." "You become like those you associate with." How about this one? "Your calendar is a reflection of your success."
Look at your calendar right now. Odds are that they are a few meetings on there. Maybe some personal appointments as well.
- 10 a.m. - Budgeting Meeting
- 2 p.m. - Marketing Meeting
- 4 p.m. - Manager's Conference Call
A typical day for many.
The issue is this calendar is a list of other people’s demands. Granted, these things are important to operating a restaurant and making sure the people in your life are cared for, BUT, what about you? If you don’t take control of your calendar you become like a small boat without a rudder just drifting along with the current of the ocean. That’s no way to live fully.
How do you get your life back? Here are a few tips:
Bookend Your Day for Self Improvement
How you set yourself up and how you finish the day are paramount to success and fulfillment. The restaurant industry is demanding and one where we give to others constantly. You need to give to yourself first. Is that being a little selfish? Yes. You need to be a little selfish and take time to recharge yourself. Restaurants are notorious for burning people out. Let’s get something clear: the restaurant did not burn you out. You allowed yourself to become burned out by not taking care of yourself.
Start the day doing something for you. Something that recharges and refuels you. This activity could be:
- Working out/walking/running
- Writing out ideas (journaling)
This is your time for YOU. Self-care is critical and a key component to long-term success. Everyone I know who is at the top of their game makes sure to start their day with at least one element of self-care!
The same goes for the end of your day. Finish strong and with something that sets you up for the next day:
- Review your calendar for the next day
- Read something inspiring, relaxing, or educational
- Write down anything you learned that day and how you can apply the lesson to become better (remember that those that fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it)
Block Off Time For Your Projects
The next step is to use small “focus blocks” that are dedicated to moving your agenda and life forward. Stop trying to wait for when you have some “free time” and you’ll get around to it. Number one, time is not free. It is the most valuable commodity on the planet. Many argued that time is money. Not true. You can make more money, you can’t make more time. You only have 1,440 minutes each day. If you waste them, they’re gone. Invest them and the results will compound over time.
So, after you schedule your self-care time blocks, next schedule your project time blocks. These are short 25 to 30-minute blocks of pure focus time. Tell your team you can’t be disturbed for the next 30 minutes. Having an open door policy is great for telling the team you are there to listen. Sometimes you also need to close the door and get stuff done. Boundaries are critical to all healthy relationships.
Too many overestimate the time it takes to complete a project (psychologist call this The Planning Fallacy). You will see better results if you focus on small wins and consistent progress. Stop trying to hit a home run and focus just on getting on base with a single. Singles added up and turn into runs.
You should have (at a minimum) two focus blocks scheduled each day to move projects forward.
Now that you have a few things on your calendar for you, it is time to fill in the rest. You want to minimize the white space on your calendar. Most just go with the flow and that is the fastest way to frustration and overwhelm. When you live your life and run your restaurant in reaction mode you never feel in control. You either manage your day or it manages you.
Grant Cardone has a great quote, “If you want to meet the devil, have white space on your calendar!”
Look at your calendar and start scheduling those mission-critical activists for your day that revolve around your work duties. Pre-shift meetings, team meetings, and those administration things you know that many don’t like to do. Okay, a few people do love looking at spreadsheets for long periods of time. Most people in the restaurant industry get there energy being around people.
If done right, your calendar should be pretty full now. A GM might have a day like this:
- 6 a.m. - Wake up
- 6:30 a.m. - Meditation
- 7 a.m. - Self Care (cardio)
- 8:30 a.m. - Get ready for work, breakfast
- 9:30 a.m. - Commute (listen to audiobook or podcasts)
- 10 a.m. - Arrive at work, walkthrough
- 10:30 a.m. - Focus Block
- 11 a.m. - Lunch Pre-Shift
- 11:30 a.m. - Work lunch service
- 1:30 p.m. - Lunch Post Shift/Eat Lunch
- 1:45 p.m. - Calls
- 2 p.m. - Focus Block
- 2:30 p.m. - Kitchen Meeting
- 3 p.m. - Marketing Meeting
- 3:30 p.m. - Focus Block
- 4 p.m. - Manager One-on-one
- 4:30 p.m. - Dinner Pre-Shift
- 5 p.m. - Work Dinner Service
- 7:30 p.m. - Review day/Dinner
- 8 p.m. - Focus Block
- 8:30 p.m. - Dinner Post Shift
- 9 p.m. - Commute
- 9:30 p.m. - At home: review day and journal
- 11 p.m. - Bed time
Granted this is not the one-size-fits-all example especially if you have a family. It also does not mean you should you be all work and nothing else. It’s an example of how to mitigate the white space on your calendar so you are constantly thinking and asking the question, “what’s next?”
There is a big difference between being busy and being effective. Your calendar needs to reflect your priorities and where you spend your attention. There are 1,440 minutes a day. That’s all you have. The most successful leaders use each minute to get the most out of each day. That starts with taking control of your calendar. Remember that you control your calendar or it controls you.
By Donald Burns, Industry Expert