Taking some ‘time out’

If I ask a client what’s stopping them from doing something new, the number one answer is always, "we’re just too busy. I don’t have enough time." When it comes to our working lives, we love being busy. Busyness gives us purpose, helps us feel important and that we’re adding value… and its super addictive. We’re dopamine junkies and our tech just feed’s the habit.

By Jim Lusty.

If we’re not careful, we can end up getting swept along on a wave of busyness, dictated by established habits, routines, and our outlook diaries. There’s a comfort we get from these familiar structures. It’s easy to say yes to things, go to meetings and pack your day. In my old agency I used to wear my busyness as a badge of honour… “good luck finding some time in my diary.”

The question we need to be asking ourselves is are we being busy on the stuff that counts? On what’s important, for me and for the business. This is a discipline few possess. Busy is easy. Knowing what’s important and managing your time to deliver against those things, that’s more challenging. We need to escape our autopilot and be more conscious of what our focuses should be. Otherwise, you’re just reacting to what shouts loudest and you succumb to what business needs… and business needs you 24x7. Its relentless and exhausting. 

So here comes my blog top tip. To become more effective, create greater impact and with better energy… you need to take timeout. To step back from all the noise and relentless busyness. It’s only then that you can get the perspective and clarity you need to identify what’s really needed. Where you need to focus your unique set of talents, in the time you have, to achieve what’s important. Be that for you, your team, or the business. And then be merciless in managing your time accordingly.

There are 3 times in the day that I protect, that allow me to gain this clarity. When I wake up, lunchtime and when I finish work.

Wakey, wakey: I’ve read loads of blogs about people’s morning routines. Some are a little intimidating and most seem unrealistic when I’m woken at 6am by my two kids, after which I’m lost in a whirl of breakfasts and school runs before being spat out at my desk just in time for work. But there is something really useful to tap into when you first wake up. When you wake, your mind is rested and pure of thought. I’m encouraging you to recognise this and tap into it, to help get clear on what you want to achieve that day. The more clarity you get on this, the more focus you’ll have and the more chance you’ll have of achieving it when the busyness kicks in.

A couple of top tips, that will work even in the morning chaos of screaming kids.

  • Break that habit of reaching for your phone first thing. As soon as you do, you’re consumed with news feeds, social media nonsense and work emails. You’ll quickly distract your brain and lose a golden opportunity for clarity.
  • Hydrate, with water, not coffee. When we wake, we’re massively dehydrated, which effects our cognitive function.
  • If possible, get your heart rate up. Any form of exercise. Just to wake up your body.
  • The most important part – find some time to get clear on what you want to achieve that day. It might be a conversation, presentation, or email. But by identifying your ‘big thing’ you’ll create focus and be able to look at your diary and decide whether you’re spending your time on the right things. (You then need to get good at saying no to meeting requests, but that’s a separate blog) 

Lunch time: Taking your lunch break is the equivalent of 25 days of holiday a year. Let that sink in. It’s the perfect opportunity to come back up for air, reset and reenergise…oh and eat something! It’s also a chance to reflect on your morning and create renewed focus for the afternoon. Lots of people work through lunch, sit at their desks going through emails… I’m saying down tools, get outside, refresh and refocus. Check in with how you’ve been spending your time before diving into the afternoon.

End of the day: The temptation is always to work right up to the moment you leave. Reflection is underrated in business. It’s often seen as passive and inert. For me, reflection is a key skill if you what to learn, grow and improve. A recent Harvard report found that just 10 mins spent reflecting at the end of each day, increased productivity by 25%. You can do this on your commute home or with a colleague at the end of the day, but a chance to reflect on how you’ve spent your time, what you learned, what needs your focus tomorrow, will only make you sharper and more dangerous.

Make time and space to get clear on what’s important. Then it’s easier to make sure you’re using your time and energy on the stuff that counts. It’s an intention to be set. This requires discipline and energy, but the payback is huge. 


Upping your Elvis helps businesses get their energy right. Similarly, to the principles explored in this blog, our belief is that the biggest challenge to creating impact in your life and in work is knowing what to focus your energy on. If you need a bit of help with this, then get in touch for a chat.