About 8 years ago, I left a high-paying management job in the corporate world. And while I didn’t know then what I know now (not even close), I did manage to make some pretty big changes to how I approached work, and therefore, the results I got. While I was always successful at pretty much everything I’ve ever touched (eventually, anyway), that success had always come at a huge price – all of my time. You see, I was more than willing to sacrifice all of my time, even the time I should’ve been sleeping, to my work. There was a time when I would even boast about just how much I was willing to sacrifice, just how much crap I was willing to put up with, and just how hard I was willing to fight. I wore my battle scars with pride.
And then, I woke up. Just a little, but I woke up. I managed to reduce my working hours from 18 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. And I did it all while becoming even more successful, as far as my bosses were concerned.
“How did you do that?!?”, one of my readers wanted to know the other day. She’s stuck in a similar situation and can’t get out immediately. She wanted to know what I’d done t make my own situation so much more bearable. What lessons had I learned? What massive paradigms did I shift? Well, I was more than happy to tell her. And then I thought I’d tell you, as well. Just in case you’re still working a bit harder than you’d like to.
Make sure you watch the video all the way to the end, to get the totally counterintuitive motherload tip that totally changed my corporate life!
Of course, these tips are no substitute for manifesting a much better situation, but until you can line that up, this information may well give you much-needed, immediate relief.
Today, I want to answer a question that I received recently, from someone who overheard me say (in a coaching call, or something, I don’t remember), that back in my corporate life, back in my old life, I managed to reduce my working hours from 18 hours a day, down to 8 hours a day, while becoming even more successful. And, she wanted to know: How did I do that? Because, she was finding herself in quite the same situation, and wanted to know, how can I possibly reduce my working hours like that, and actually get more accolades from my bosses.
So, before I answer that question, because I’m very happy to, but before I answer that question, I want to qualify this video a little bit. Because, some of the techniques that I’m going to give you here today, and I’m going to give you about 6 of them; but some of the techniques I’m going to give you, apply to just about any situation, any work situation; even if you have your own business. But, some of them are going to be very, very specific to working in an environment, where you are not able to really unfold your creativity, and your potential, and your passion to your highest degree. Where you have people above you, where it’s quite bureaucratic. Where, maybe, even the people above you are making really bad decisions, and you’re not happy.
So, this is really geared towards those of you who are working way too hard, in environments that you really understand you need to get out of. But before you can get out of them; this is a way to make it more bearable. But, do not think about making it bearable, and then not getting out. Take the steps to get out, and until you can, allow the situation to become more bearable through these techniques. So, some of them are going to be very specific to that. And, I will point out which ones are which.
Realize that not everyone has the same motivation and priorities as you
Alright! So, let’s get right into it, with the first technique, and this is one of those techniques that’s going to help you more in that corporate environment. That environment where you’re working for a government, or a corporation, and it’s not, necessarily, a really positive environment. This was one of the biggest epiphanies I had; this is a really big mindset change.
So, for a long time I had a lot of trouble, not being successful, but feeling good. I was doing a lot of fighting. And the reason that I was doing a lot of fighting, is because I assumed that everybody who worked for the company, or just about everybody, and certainly the people higher up, wanted to do a good job for the customers, wanted to do a good job for the employees; and basically, had the same motivations and priorities, that I did. I know, a lot of you are rolling your eyes, and going, “Oh my God! How naive can you be?”
But, I didn’t know that I had this belief; ok!! It caused me a lot of trouble. And it was a really heartbreaking realization, but a very important one for me to have, when I finally cottoned on to the fact that: No! Their motivations and their priorities were completely different from mine. A lot of their decisions didn’t make any sense to me, until I figured out what they were really doing. They didn’t make any sense, because I assumed that their motivations were the same as mine. I know, there are a lot of people out there who do the same thing, and it causes a lot of grief. So, if you’ve ever wondered why the executives in your company make such stupid decisions, then consider for a moment, that maybe they’re not all stupid. I mean, some of them probably are, but they’re not all stupid; maybe they just have very different motivations. Motivations that have absolutely nothing to do with customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, or even, stockholder satisfaction.
A lot of people have become so jaded, by working years and years in jobs that really don’t light them up, that their motivations are more like, “Let me get as much money out of this as I can in the next 2 years.” Almost nobody stays in a position longer than 2 years in the corporate environment, so that their damage doesn’t catch up with them.
But also, their motivation is often something like, “I’m going to keep my head down, and make as few waves as possible.” Even though they can see something needs to be changed for the better, they’re not going to be the one to do it. Because they don’t want to draw any attention to themselves, whatsoever. They’re just trying to make their lives as easy as possible and be as ignored as possible. So, they do as little as possible, and often, inadvertently, become obstacles that are in the way. And yet, no-one else is going to point it out, because they’re all playing the same game. And, for those of us who are like, “We’re here to change the world, and we’re here to make things better.” Oh my God! That is so frustrating!
My life got a lot better once I realized that people’s motivations where not the same as mine, and that I would just have to accept that, as long as I was in the company. I was not in the company that much longer after I realized that. Took about a little over a year, maybe a year and a half. But, it made that year and half much, much easier, and allowed me to actually make all the rest of the changes that I made. It’s going to sound a little bit like I stopped caring, and I did, to a certain degree. I stopped caring so much about the company. I stopped caring so much about the higher-ups and doing a good job for them. What I did still care about was me doing the best job that I could. But without worrying about everything outside of what I was actually able to do. I was no longer trying to change the company, or to change the world. I was just doing the best that I could under those circumstances, within those limitations. And again, that wasn’t really a sustainable situation for me, but it was a hell of a lot easier than fighting all of that constantly. And again, allowed for the rest of the changes that I’ll be talking about here, to take place.
Identify what your biggest time suck is
The second technique I’m going to share with you is one that you can use in any circumstance. I identified my biggest time suck, and I did something about it. Now, I did a time management video, just a little while ago, and we’ll put the link in the description for you. This is not a time management video, but this is a little bit of a time management tip. In that video, in the time management video, I told you to pick one thing for the next day, one thing, one priority. You might get more done, but if you only get that one thing done; you get that one thing done. It was a productivity and a time management tip, and this is as well. This is taking that technique and putting it on steroids. It’s being really, really brutal about what is happening in your life, and looking at: Where are you being interrupted, what is slowing you down; what is draining the energy out of you. So, it’s time and energy sucks you want to identify, and you want to get rid of those, to the best of your ability.
For example, one of the things I identified in my 18-hour day was that, one thing that was slowing me down a lot, was that I was being interrupted, almost constantly by people. And, I had a lot of projects that I was working on that would require a lot of concentration. And really, 2-3 hours of just sitting there in concentration, and every time I got interrupted it would pull me out of it, and it would take me time to get back into it. This was a lot of lost time. So, what I did is, I decided to work half a day from home. Now, not everybody has the opportunity to do this. I worked so many hours that nobody really cared, and nobody would have dared say anything, like, “When is your butt in the seat?” So, I just, kind of, did this. You’re not always going to have the ability to do it, but maybe you will. So, it’s something to consider. This was the solution that came to me. I started working from home, half a day, and then, going into the office for the other half of the day. In that first half of the day, I got interrupted a lot less. At the office people would stop by and talk to me in person, very easily, about almost anything. But they hesitated to call me unless it was actually really important. That wasn’t even a rule I had to set, that was just what happened, and it was amazing. Suddenly, I had those 2, 3, 4 hours where I could just concentrate; get a bunch of stuff done, in a lot less time. And that was one of the things that ultimately helped me be more successful. Along with the next tip, which meant that I only focused on the highest priorities. This is a little bit of a hybrid tip, because taken to a certain extent this works everywhere. Taken to the extent where I took it, it’s really more in that environment where you’re trying to minimize the damage.
So, I focused on the highest priorities. In my time management video, I told you to make a list, and prioritize it. Take it out of your mind, put it on a piece of paper, or a spreadsheet, or whatever. Prioritize it, come up with the absolute emergency prioritizations; this has to be done, this has to done right now or bad things are going to happen. Then, there are the things that: They have to happen, but they don’t have to happen right now. And then there’s the nice to haves. Well, in this kind of environment, if you’re working too many hours, you throw out all the nice to haves. Chuck them out the window. They are never going to get done, and they’re just hanging over your head. When you’re working 18-hour days, there are no nice to haves. Boom, gone! Then, anything that has to be done, but it doesn’t have to be done right now; or doesn’t have to be done by me – chuck them out. I’m serious – bye! Then there are the super priorities. When you’re working that many hours, and in that kind of environment, usually, that’s all you have time to do. So, you know what? You free yourself up, by no longer holding yourself responsible for all that other stuff, and you do the really, truly, important stuff, and only that.
Again, this is what made me more successful. Suddenly, I was shining on those really important, big things, and everything else; well, you might be thinking, “Oh, everything fell apart.” No, it didn’t! That was the big surprise; that was the big shocker. First of all, all the nice to haves: no-one noticed that no-one was doing them anymore, which made me feel kind of stupid. Because, all this time we were working so hard to dot all the i’s, and cross all the t’s, and a lot of that was really unnecessary. No-one cared; no-one but me cared.
Another thing that happened is, the things that were important, but maybe not the biggest priority for me in that moment, other people jumped in and started doing some of those things. But, they never had before. Why Not? Because, I always got there first. Often through the assumption that I was the only one. So, other people jumped in and started to do those things, which allowed them to maybe shine more, or at least took it off my shoulders. And so, a lot of that stuff still got done; the important stuff still got done, and the really important stuff got done by me. So, I was able to shine more, and no, the world did not stop spinning, the department did not crumble to the ground. Nothing bad happened; because if something bad was about to happen that would have gone into priority one, and I would have taken a look at that. It was absolutely amazing how much more got done without my intervention, when I backed off. Huge, huge thing.
Start your day in a way that supports you
Alright! So, another thing that I did was, I started my day. And being able to work from home half the day helped with this, but it’s not absolutely mandatory. I was able to start my day in a way that supported me. This is another one of those tips that’s going to help you, no matter where you are, whether you have your own business, or you’re working in a job that you love, or a job that you don’t like. You start your day in a way that supports you. So, the way I used to start my day, before I made all these changes, is: I would wake up in the morning, I would look at my ‘Crackberry’. For those of you who are born after the ‘90s, there used to be this thing called the Blackberry and it was, essentially, like a Smartphone, and you could read your emails on it. We called it a ‘Crackberry’ because it was really, super addictive. Like crack! And, for those of you born after the year 2000, crack cocaine is… No! I’m kidding!!
Alright! So, I used to look at my ‘Crackberry’, I looked at my emails before I even got out of bed. I was barely able to open my eyes, and I’m already like, “From; to.”, it was awful. Then, I would get up, I would jump in the shower, I would get ready, and I would run out of the house. No breakfast, no coffee, no nothing; no time. No time to think, no time to reflect; just get up and go, go, go. I lived close to work, so I would walk. But not in a nice manner of, “Oh! I’ve got my little walk to work, this is so relaxing.” It was, go, go, go, go; go! As quickly as possible, get there. If it had been just a little bit further away, I would have taken a taxi. There was a Starbucks on the way, so I grabbed my coffee, grabbed my muffin. You have to eat something; not something healthy, but who cares! I didn’t taste it anyway, because I ate it at my desk, drank my coffee at my desk, ate my muffin at my desk. Didn’t even care what I was doing, it was work, it was work until 2 o’clock in the morning, or 3 o’clock in the morning. I would go home, I would fall into bed – oh quick, check on the ‘Crackberry’ real quick. And then go to sleep. Sleep a few hours, get up; do it all over again. 6 to 7 days a week.
Did you notice how, in all of that routine, there’s no time to think, there’s no time to reflect; there’s no space? I was so tightly scheduled that if I had to go to the bathroom, I was late for my next call. There wasn’t even time to pee, much less take care of myself, in any way. So, when I made these changes and realized, “You know what? I don’t need to sacrifice myself to this degree for the company. Because, the company doesn’t give a crap about me.” I started my day in a way that supported me. So, I got up in the morning. Back in that day, I used to love coffee. And I had this amazing coffee machine; amazing espresso machine. It was the most expensive thing in my entire apartment. It was probably worth more than the entire apartment itself. And, I would make myself a nice cup of coffee, a real nice latte, with steamed milk and all of that. I would go out on my beautiful terrace, and in the wonderful morning air, crisp, beautiful morning air, I would just sit.
Sometimes, just 10 minutes, and sometimes 25 or 30 minutes, depending on when I got up and how much time I had. I would just sit, and even those 10, possibly 15 minutes, were really beneficial. Because I was making space; I made time. Time to wake up, time to ruminate about some things, time to think of a few things; before I checked my emails, before I did anything else. That’s what I did. And, that little bit of a morning routine set me up for success, in a way that almost no other technique did. Honestly, I didn’t even know that I was doing this. I didn’t know about energy or anything like that; I wasn’t even meditating.
After a while, then I started meditating a bit, in the mornings, but in the beginning, all I did, was just sit there. And. it was such a luxury to sit there, with my cup of coffee instead of go, go, go, go; go, that it almost felt like meditation. And then, I would go and I would check on my emails, then I would do some project. After that I would get ready, and then I would go to work, halfway through the day. And, it was setting me up for a much more relaxed day. I start my day in a relaxed way. By the way, I am not a morning person, not at all. This worked for me, even though I’m not a morning person, and especially, because I’m not a morning person. It was a nice, calm way to start the day. I still find that incredibly luxurious, to get up in the morning, potter around a bit, make myself – it’s now a cup of tea – have a few minutes just for me. I still enjoy it, I still appreciate it so much. I still feel like it’s a bit of a luxury. Maybe, because for so many years of not doing that. But that’s how I start my days.
People ask me, “What’s your morning routine?” That’s my morning routine. I potter around the house, and I have a cup of tea. Very deliciously, slowly and deliberately, I have a cup of tea.
But, it really set up my day. It doesn’t have to be this big morning routine. It can just be a little thing that you do. But it’s a little thing that supports you; a little thing that helps you, a little thing that puts you on that “Ahhh!” luxury trail. And it will color the rest of your day; it will help you.
Delegate responsibilities, not tasks
The 5th technique I have for you, is one that will work whether you have your own business, or you’re working for a great company, or you’re working for a not so great company. You want to delegate as much as you can, if you’re in a position of responsibility. But, you want to delegate responsibility, not tasks. If you delegate tasks, like, “Fill out this spreadsheet; do this thing for me.” You are going to have to explain how to do it, and then, you’re going to have to micro-manage the results. It’s just a bunch of work for you. The other person’s taking a small amount of work off your hands. If you delegate responsibility, you’re make them responsible for the outcome; the result that you want.
So, instead of, “Put these figures into the spreadsheet.” It’s, “Compile the figures for the spreadsheet, and the end result. Actually, crunch the numbers and give us the end result.” If the person doesn’t know how to do that, you can teach them how to do that. But then, forever more, you don’t have to do that whole thing – it’s going to be several tasks and processes. And, in order to delegate responsibility, not tasks, you have to help people understand what it is that’s truly important; which means that you have to understand what’s truly important. So, you don’t just say to somebody, “Run some stats.” You need to figure out which stats are actually important and communicate that. You need to understand, if it’s really important to you, for example, that somebody puts together a presentation, and it’s really important to you that they use a certain color scheme; then tell them that. Tell them to use a certain color scheme. Tell them what the outcome of the presentation needs to be. What’s the goal? What one piece do we need to get across? What piece of communication do we need to get across? So basically, what are the important factors for you?
Some of them might be petty and arbitrary, but they’re important to you. And definitely the really big ones. You want them to have a chance to be successful in taking on the responsibility. And, what that does, as you’re delegating responsibilities instead of tasks is, it actually frees you up more, and more, and more. And, if you have a deputy, and you delegate responsibility versus tasks to them, then you can, actually go on vacation. They can actually take over for you, rather than not knowing what to do and when to do it; because you’ve always made every decision, and just told them what to do, every step along the way.
The Mother Lode tip
Alright! So, the last tip I have for you is the Mother Lode tip. This one is really only applicable, to when you are in one of those bureaucratic, corporate environments where things are not going well, and people are not listening, and obstacles are not being removed out of your way; and you’re not really allowed to be completely successful. And that is the biggest tip, and it’s totally counter-intuitive. It is: To Let It Break. Cover your ass; but let it break.
So, here’s the story that helped me understand this. Right? I was in the technology department. And the technology department, if you’re not aware, in most companies, is the last department to get any money. Because, it only costs money, it doesn’t actually make any money. Because of that, the budget is always incredibly tight. You’re always understaffed, you’re always underfunded, and you’re always having to make everything run with duct tape, and spit, and hope. Here’s how to get around that: Technology heads, listen up! Or middle managers; listen up. So, we had a Server that was on its last legs, and I had been escalating, and escalating, and escalating, letting people know, this is about to break. And, we are working incredibly hard to keep it going, basically, with duct tape and spit, and yarn and hope. But it was going to go down, and it was a critical Server.
And so, for 6 months, I was fighting, fighting, fighting; again, thinking, their motivation was the same as mine. They would want to know if something was about to break down. Nothing happened. There was no money, there was no money, there was no money; just keep doing what you’re doing, there’s no money. Then, one night, that Server went down. And, I’m getting calls on my ‘Crackberry’ at 3 o’clock in the morning, because, who cares! I don’t need to sleep!! I was actually up, to my shame. But, I’m getting calls at 3 o’clock in the morning, from people that I’ve never heard of; that I’ve never met (it was a giant company). I was living in Barcelona, they’re in the United States; they’re calling me and saying, “What is happening? Why is the Server down?” And, I simply said, to some executive I’ve never met, and never heard of, “Well, you know, I’ve been saying this for 6 months. Now it’s gone down. I said it was going to happen. I was not given any funding.” And he said to me, “Why didn’t you call me?” – “I don’t know who the hell you are. Nor, would you have, ever approved any funds.” But, whatever. Here’s what happened: Nobody admitted that they should have done it, and that’s never going to happen; they’re not going to admit it. But, what happened is, miraculously, money appeared, funds appeared. “What do you need to get the Server back up and running?” – “Well, we need a new Server.” – “Oh; let’s buy one. How much are they?” – “They’re like, 5 grand.” – “Oh! Buy one now.” Boom. “What are the components you need? What is the software you need? What is everything you need?”
And, we ended up with a brand-new Server that ran beautiful. Cost us all, a lot less effort, blood, sweat and tears; because it broke. My ass was covered, because I had first escalated. But, I realized I didn’t need to fight for 6 months. So, what I did from then on is; I wrote one or two mails, “Hey, this is a problem. Hey, this is a problem.” Crickets, of course, totally expected. And then, I got my whole team together. I had to hold them back, because they were all, kind of like me, “We’ll just keep it going; we’ll just keep it going.” And, I had to say, “No! We’re going to step back.” It was not easy to do, but it was doable. And, we watched it burn; we watched it break. And, every single time, funds appeared to fix the actual problem instead of us keeping it together with duct tape, and string, and hope, and kind of making it work. As long as it’s not a problem for the higher ups, it doesn’t get addressed. Cover your ass, and let it break. Really, really hard to do; really, really, really effective.
Again, these are not tips to help you stay in a shitty situation. You should do all the work to get out of there. But while you are still there, for whatever reason, these tips can help you make that environment a lot easier, and cause you to work a lot less, without it having any detrimental effect on what you look like. You can be the problem solver, you can be the person that shines on the really big priorities, and you don’t have to kill yourself to do it.
So, hopefully, this is a helpful video for those of you who are still stuck in those situations that you’d rather not be in. On your way out of them, this should help a little bit. Let me know what you think in the comments, and let me know if you’ve ever tried any of these, or if you want to try any of these. Let me know your experience, I’d love to hear it. Until next week, I want to send you, smooshy, smooshy, happy shiny puppy hugs, as well as, thanking you, from the bottom of my heart, for bringing your light to the world. Bye.