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Free Days 

Just What Is a Free Day™?

Imagine the following scenario. It’s Wednesday afternoon. You and your spouse are having lunch at your favorite restaurant, “catching up.” After lunch you’ll consider a movie, or just go home and read. It doesn’t matter which. Your cell phone is off, work is the farthest thing from your mind, and you’re committed to nothing more than simply relaxing. You return to the office the next morning, guilt-free and feeling rather energetic.

Most people think of Free Days as a reward for hard work. I don’t. Free Days are a necessary precondition for achieving success and optimum productivity.

This is a Free Day, a 24-hour period completely free from work-related problem-solving, communication, and action. It’s not so easy to imagine, is it? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, the whole notion of free time, particularly midweek, is nothing less than far-fetched. How can you take free time when there’s work to be done, money to make, commitments to be kept?

Free Days are a necessary precondition for achieving success and optimum productivity. On any given day, most entrepreneurs would consider themselves extraordinarily lucky (or seriously pressured) to be able to squeeze in a bit of free time, let alone a whole day. It happens only IF they can first get “a few things” done, IF there are no unexpected crises, and IF they can just clean up a few “little messes” around the office. Not surprisingly, this seldom, if ever, happens.

But if you want to improve the quality of both your work and personal life, I think it should. And often.

How Can I Possibly Take Free Days?

Right now, most of us figure out how much time we need to work and make money. Then, if there’s anything left over, we devote it to free time. But this concept doesn’t work for “time,” the same way it doesn’t work for “savings.” As anyone in the financial services industry knows, savings has to “come off the top.” You figure out what you want to save, take it off the top of your salary, and live on the rest. Free time is just like savings: it has to come off the top. Plan Free Days off the top, and work everything else around them.

Why Do I Really Need Free Days?

Many entrepreneurs are totally fixated on work, with no time for anything personal. They are successful for awhile, but their one-sidedness catches up to them, especially in their personal and family lives. I believe the most successful entrepreneurs achieve a balance between their personal and professional lives, using Free Days as a strategic tool in their long-range planning.

Most people think of Free Days as a reward for hard work. I don’t. Free Days are a necessary precondition for achieving success and optimum productivity. Free Days are rejuvenating. They allow us to put our lives into perspective and lay the grounds for creativity, the most valuable asset we have to offer in the marketplace.

How Can This Be?

I believe that entrepreneurs think, communicate, and act differently than most people. Instead of uniformity, repetition, and predictability, entrepreneurs base their success on variety, creativity, and productivity.

But too often, we get bogged down in “stuff” that robs us of our creativity, our days become routine, our productivity becomes low because we’re not able to focus on what we’re really best at doing. We have to l) figure out ways to re-energize that creativity, 2) find new ways to “get stuff done,” and 3) focus on our strengths. We have to schedule our time to ensure we have all three.

How Should I Use a Free Day?

Some people are rejuvenated by engaging in highly energetic activities. They need to be out and about, on the go all the time. Others are just the opposite. They just want to relax, curl up with a book, listen to music, lie on a beach, or have a good conversation. Natural environments — especially mountains, forests, deserts, and oceans — often have a soothing, therapeutic effect on people who are caught up in a technological civilization.

Whatever you choose, your Free Day should allow you to be in a different world, away from responsibilities, concerns, worries, and goals.

© 2007 The Strategic Coach
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