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Jacqui McGill AO

Non Executive Director

How will you invest your time this year?

Jan 15, 2019

A new year creates a great opportunity to really consider how you will invest the one thing you cannot create more of, duplicate, or outsource.  And that is your time. 

I know throughout my career I have felt the constant pressure to fit more and more in to my day.  And I have at times put work before my health, my family and friends.  Before we go any further I am not going to preach that this advice will enable you to achieve everything, but hopefully it will provide some tips to ensure that you do feel as though you are in control of your time.

What prompted this change for me?

Well I remember quite clearly attending a medical appointment, which I considered it a waste of time, you know one of those routine health checks we should all do from a preventative perspective.  Anyway, I may have shared my impatience with this health professional.  And she responded quite simply, “do you really think if you get sick and die, they won’t find someone to replace you”….eek what a straight talker! Post my appointment I gave this comment some thought, and she was right.  I had foolishly been swept up in my work and I took my health for granted.   Now I can’t say I have always been great at getting this right but over time I have used these techniques to get this right,  more often than not.

So how do I go about it?  Well here are my top 10 tips.

1.  Plan well ahead for your exercise, medical appointments, family commitments.  This should be the core of your planning in your diary.  I would always schedule early morning for exercise, otherwise I knew I just wouldn’t do it.  And occasionally I would break my exercise routine, but this was always the exception. 

2.  Organise my medical & family appointments towards the start or end of the day and group them as much as possible to minimise time for travel and logistics. 

3.  Plan your days to fit your energy levels.  Consider when are you at your best? When do you feel most productive?  I like mornings, this is when I feel my most engaged and productive.  So I would also ensure that I have around  time allocated to  get stuck in to some key priorities. 

4.  Consider the ebb and flow of a working week.  When planning my meetings with my team, I would always consider that most people like to have Mondays clear so that they can catch those things they thought of over the weekend or that have arisen over the weekend.  So, I would schedule  time for my one on one or team meetings mid-week. 

5.  Be inclusive when considering the timing of meetings.  As I mentioned I like an early start, and at times I have scheduled early morning meetings.  That was until one of my team approached me after he joined a morning meeting late.  Firstly, he apologised for being late explaining that he drops the kids off each morning.  I responded  that it was fine and I was ok with him being late  (thinking I was being a good boss).  But when he went on to say ”but this is the most important meeting of the week,  couldn’t you start it ½ hour later so I can attend in full”.  Eek! good lesson here,  it was so easy to move the meeting back and ensure he could be included.  So, give consideration to when and how meetings are planned.  Make it easy for people to raise alternate time frames, and to attend meetings by phone/VC rather than being in the office.

6.  If you are the decision maker in your organisation and attend meetings to provide direction/decisions.   Give good guidance about your expectations of preparation and time frames for pre-read.  Similarly if you are initiating the meeting, good preparation ensures meetings are timely, and concise.  Get rid of Power point and write a good memo to lay out your information, plans and decisions.  I love this piece from Jeff Bezos on this,  Jeff Bezo’s Meeting rules

7.  Also look for waste in meetings.  How many meetings have layers of leadership in the room?  Review who attends each meeting and take the opportunity to empower your team by removing yourself from the meeting.

8.  Plan time for breaks through the day. This is particularly important when you have intense meetings planned.  This you-tube clip  on the “third space” covers this simple and powerful concept.  Third Space Youtube clip.  How do you reflect, rest and reset?   Great options to clear your head could be a quick walk around the block, go for a coffee, or some time to take a few minutes to note your reflections.

9.  Take the time to review your diary and ensure that your activities planned are aligned with getting your core priorities completed.  

10.  And finally if you are feeling like work is becoming a bit of a grind,  then ensure you allocate some time to do something you enjoy.  I used to have a breakfast at a nice café once a month,  invite a friend or just use the time to relax and enjoy the meal.

I hope you find this useful, how you use your time can be critical to your success in work and life.  Have a great 2019.  Till next time.



MBA, BSc (Extractive Metallurgy)

DAdel (Honoris Causa), GAICD

Adelaide, South Australia



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