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Build In Space

Stacy Eads on July 30, 2018

Build In Space
Her six talking points from the Leadercast Series have helped so many Oklahomans change their 24-hour trap mindset into a 168-hour weekly view of life, success, and goal-setting.
  1. Terminate Your 24-Hour Trap
  2. Adapt a 168-View of Life
  3. Think Through Your Weeks BEFORE You're in Them
  4. Build in Space
  5. Careful with the Word YES
  6. What Do I Really NEED vs What's Important to Me
Among these six points, there's one topic closest to my heart, where I spend additional time with each audience exploring how they can "Build in Space" into their workday. Laura used the phrase "white space means your open space can invite opportunity" during the Leadercast Series I attended in Oklahoma City. That phrase didn't flip my light bulb on switch as quickly as the others. It almost felt like a phrase that would be on an inspirational poster at Hobby Lobby for $19.99 to fill your office's white walls with color.

It was so abstract to me that I formed some concrete rules to wrap my head around it. So let's explore how I personally interpret the phrase to benefit Levant's employee on-boarding and training process.

A) Time Blocking Rule: 1.5 hours between meetings

If you're an active networker or outbound sales rep, you can find yourself running your entire day from your vehicle rather than a desk, right? Well my standard is to book no more than 3 meetings per day. These are typically one hour or less meetings, and they are usually outside of my office - such as a Panera Bread, Starbucks, or a prospect's place of business.

3 meetings a day x 5 days a workweek = 15 meetings is a TON of time to do business. This is NOT a limiting philosophy, I promise.


If I have an 8am-9am meeting, I will not slot another meeting for 1.5 hours afterward.

In this example, my next availability would be 10:30am-11:30am.

What is the 1.5 hours for?

After I wrap up the meeting conclusion at 9am, I will spend approximately 30 minutes at that location typing any follow up I promised to that person. This is the best time to perform referrals, look up an article link you promised them, or to send them their proposal. Why? because it's fresh on your mind, you're really excited at that moment, and it allows it to be done BEFORE it ever makes a to-do list at all!

Imagine the freedom of NOT having to remember, mentally repeat, or write down over and over what you have to do from meeting to meeting because you were more efficient and finished the task before you ever left!

But if it only takes 30 minutes to complete a follow-up meeting task, why schedule 1.5 hours of free space built in?

This allows for 30 minutes of follow up

+ 30 minutes of drive time to the next location

+ 30 minutes to arrive, use the restroom, get a glass of water, find a plug for your laptop, re-confirm a LinkedIn photo of who you're seeing next, and text them where you're sitting prior to their arrival.

You've allowed yourself time to wrap up the last meeting, finish any to-do items quickly to impress them... AND get your game-face on for your next meeting. No more 'traffic' excuses. No more running in late, and saying 'excuse me', while you wait 15 minutes on your coffee before you begin your next sales call.

B) The Proactive 'Power of OR'

Be proactive. Take control of your calendar. Ever said to a co-worker, "I have 100 unread emails because I had so many meetings today"? Stop making excuses for the chaos. After hearing my speech, you will never again meet a prospect at a networking event, start drooling for their business, exchange cards with sweaty palms and nervously ask "Wanna have coffee sometime?" ...

Instead, you will either message them on LinkedIn, send an email, or call (based on your personality and theirs) and simply state: "It was nice to meet you last night at ____. I enjoyed hearing about ___. I'd like to get to know your company a bit better to see how I might have connections or referrals for you. I'm available for coffee at ABC Starbucks Monday at 9am here in Norman by my office, or at XYZ Panera Friday at Noon in Guthrie near you. Which is best for you?"

Offering two dates with the Power of "OR" shortens the response time. It puts the power in their hands to quickly check those times on their calendar and easily respond within seconds. This eliminates the never-ending email thread of "Wanna have coffee" "Sure" "When and where" "Oh, how's Friday at 5pm" "That's not good for me, how about Noon on Thursday" .... blah blah blah waste of time!

It also assumes the YES. The question was "Which is best for you" not a passive "Would you like to meet?" -- which can be answered with a 'no' or a totally ghosted non-reply response.

C) Geo-Timeblocking is Key

Did you notice in the above "Power of Or" section that YOU were in control of the two dates/times/location options?! That means you can now control your calendar. You can set up only three meetings a day. You can ensure they are 1.5 hours apart from end time to start time. You can also ensure that you Geo-Timeblock so you don't go from one end of town to the other, and back AGAIN "running around like a chicken with your head cut off" (as we say in the South).

If you want the 1.5 hour rule to work, you need to offer the dates/times according to when you'll be in that section of town. Folks in big cities like Chicago, New York, L.A., or Houston HAVE to abide by this rule because they depend on taxis, traffic, subways, and other third-party features out of their control. Here in the OKC Metro, it's easy to get from one side to the other in 30 minutes or less - even with peak traffic hours. You have to make a conscience effort to contain your calendar. Don't mindlessly lose hours by driving back and forth.

And even within your 30-minute drive time, you can purchase audiobooks to pep you up, or meditation CDs to cool your jets - whatever is required to prep your mindset for the next meeting.

D) Set Three Goals for NEXT Week

I use Laura Vanderkam's 168-hour method of thinking one week ahead, and setting goals that are weekly. She recommends one specific goal for career, one for relationships, and one for self-care. I often ask my audiences to write those three goals on an index card because it's easy to carry around in your purse or wallet. In times of stress, you can pull it out and remind yourself of what's important. Not what's urgent, scary, stressful, or top of mind -- but what's truly important. Something you set as important an entire week BEFORE you were "in that week", in the weeds, in the muck, and in the moment.

Some in my office like to use a Post-it note on their laptop. It's smaller, forces you to not be wordy, and it's present on your screen every day that you might accidentally waste time with silly social media, or mindless email searches.  When you write up more than three to five large goals, you honestly set yourself up for failure. Why do that? It's not a to-do list. It's a goals list - three is plenty.

E) Turn Off Distractions

Our team at Levant Technologies is trained to work off-line for less distractions. That means app pop ups, mobile app 'breaking news' fly-ins, any chat rooms you're involved in... If it pops up, flies in, swoops down, or any other tech motion to 'preview' - it's a distraction. It takes you three times as long to get back into whatever you were doing before you got distracted, so be the opposite of Nike - just don't do it.

In Outlook for example, you can open it, set it to "work offline", and you will not receive new inbox items during that time. You can type all your emails, finish all your lists, organize all your folders, then boom - click "work online" one time, everything sends and updates. Shut down your laptop. And go do your job. The new inbox items will be waiting for you around lunch time.

It's 100% possible to be more effective at achieving your goals, and finishing your to-do list if you time-block that email only gets your attention from 8am-9am, 11:30am-12:30pm, and 4pm-5pm. This will immediately eliminate your excuse of "I didn't get anything achieved today on my list because I was bombarded and drowning in emails!" You do that to yourself folks. Your customers don't do that to you. You swim into the sea of emails, and stay there, wading and treading water all day - only to get a pruney and wrinkled up attitude about it.

Try to only check email at 8am, noon, and 5pm a few times this week. It will change your productivity for life!  I dare you.

Liked this blog? Want to see this speech in action? Visit Stacy's latest 'How to Make your To-Do List work FOR you, NOT Against You' taping at the OKC Entrepreneurial Group here

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