From the boss: Time to come up for air

January is traditionally a time for articles encouraging us to become better versions of ourselves: Lose weight, spend less, eat better, meet up with friends, take up a new hobby, the pressure – whether external or internal – to always be adding another string to your bow can become relentless.

In business, whether it’s January or the start of a new financial year, those pressures can be much the same. While it’s always good to have a clear vision of where you’re going and what you want to achieve, that vision can all too often fade into the background as the day-to-day pressures of running a business eat into your time.

But taking time out – even if it’s just a couple of hours – can make all the difference to whether you realise your goals or not.

Over the last two months, we’ve been undertaking a planning process to drive our own business forward and have lots of ideas and plans to explore. The challenge is choosing which to pursue and then setting aside time – and keeping that time set aside – to develop them.

Before Christmas, I was asked to go and visit a client to talk through their own marketing plans for 2019. The meeting would mean a two-hour drive each way at one of our busiest times of year. Advances in digital technologies mean we usually offer a mix of telephone, video and face-to-face meetings and I’ll admit that the thought did cross my mind as to whether this meeting would be better set as a conference call, allowing four hours of valuable ‘travel time’ to be directed elsewhere.

But travel I did, and I’m so glad I made that choice. The meeting was productive – discursive in a way that is more challenging in a virtual setting – and helped clarify the client’s challenges so we could tailor a new marketing solution for them that gets underway later this month.

The time away from the desk, driving undisturbed through some of the most scenic landscapes in the country while listening to Radio 4 was also invaluable for our business, creating the time and space needed to mentally work through ideas the team has been discussing and prioritise our actions for 2019.

The reason for this blog? Despite knowing all the above, and having carefully chosen only one or two events to attend for the business this month, the first of those came round today and I was sorely tempted not to go. Competing client work demands combined with an antisocial mood and cold, wet weather meant it didn’t seem as enticing a prospect as it had when I booked the tickets. But I made the effort and I’m glad I did. I met some new people who could be useful contacts for one or two of our clients, learned from the speaker and had a moment’s headspace (and inspiration) to make further decisions about our own 2019 plans.

Oh, and I also got to have my photo taken with the T20 Blast trophy.

T20 Blast Trophy

Whatever level of business you’re operating at, sometimes you need time away, in a different environment, to allow you to see the wood for the trees and to spark new ideas and innovations. It’s not skiving, it’s not letting down your clients, it’s a must if you want a win:win scenario for all concerned.

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