I was sitting on the toilet, headset on. The camera was off and I was on mute. I rolled my eye at my own ridiculous situation: my back to back meetings made it impossible for me to even go for a comfort break.
Earlier that day I found myself waving my hands in anger at my kids who wanted to ask me something whilst I was speaking on a video call. They, like mimes, were trying to make something clear to me whilst they knew that I couldn’t give them any attention.
Whilst I listened to the Teams Meeting in progress, I realized I was sort of at rock bottom. Something had to change.
I looked at the coming week and noticed that my days looked like bar codes – meeting after meeting with no gaps in between, sometimes even with overlaps. Another realization was that I wasn’t getting to my work because I was spending so much time in meetings, leading to long days.
All of the above was covered with a blanket of guilt. I kept apologizing for having to eat during a call, for going on mute to make a coffee (or let’s be honest, secretly squeezing out a number 2 as fast as I could). I felt bad for shooing my kids away, for not taking care of my own needs. For being behind on my work.
I decided that this was it, and I did the following 3 things:
Tip 1. I booked time with myself in my own calendar. One hour in the morning, an hour at lunch and an hour in the afternoon. That was time for me to get some work done and to have a proper lunch and a walk at midday. I put them as a repeat in my agenda, with no end date. I would never accept a meeting that was put into those 3 brackets of hours.
Tip 2. When people wanted 1-on-1 time with me I made the meetings 20 minutes or 45 minutes. This to ensure I had smaller breaks in between meetings, so I could use the restroom or make myself a coffee.
Tip 3. If it wasn’t clear to me WHY I was needed at a certain meeting, I would decline it.
On top of that, I did an exercise to become really clear on where it was that I wanted to go. Where I wanted to be in 5 years. What did I want my working life to look like? It sounds easy, but that was a hard thing to do. I made that my North Star. If you are interested in finding out how to do this and use it to make your life much MUCH better, subscribe to our Work On Your Terms program (live May 2021) as we will take you through it.
Now – I have to be honest – that was a LOT of saying no and declining stuff. But as a previous blog (4 ways to become better at saying ‘NO’ ) said, when I said no to something I said (hell) yes to a lot of other things. I said yes to spending some quality time with the kids when they came home from school. To sipping an espresso in peace. To thinking time (yes – that is productive time too!). To keeping an eye on what it was that I really needed to deliver that day. To acceptable working hours. And most importantly to not feeling guilty again!
So to all you sitting-in-the-bathroom-whilst-teammeeting folks out there: try the above – who knows it might just do something for you!