In the Now Podcast: Episode 38

Join Nowspeed's CEO, David Reske, as he engages in discussions with founders, marketers, and CEOs from around the globe. Delving into the realm of marketing and leadership, aiming to unravel the myths and misunderstandings that often surround these topics.

How To Find The Balance Between Busy & Productive

In a world filled with opportunities, many of us feel like busier is better. Digital tools like slack, email, text, zoom and so many others, are meant to make us more productive, but is that really better? And have we forgotten how to take time out to think and plan to make better decisions about what’s important so we can focus our time. In this episode of In the Now, Joanne Davis, a CEO Coach with C12, talks with David Reske, CEO of Nowspeed, about to take time out each day to think and get perspective so you can focus on what’s really important in your business and personal life. According to Joanne, busy will only take you so far, and we all need retreats, quiet time, and a closed door policy from time to time to make sure we are working on the right things in the right way. Join me for this counter-intuitive conversation that may change how you spend your time!

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Episode Transcript

Can taking a monthly ‘sabbatical’ improve strategic thinking? Yes, says CEO Coach Joanne Davis who dispels the myth that busyness equals productivity. 

Watch the full interview with Joanne Davis here and read an excerpt from the interview below. 

Nowspeed: Welcome to this edition of In the Now, where we aim to debunk myths related to marketing and leadership. I’m your host, David Reske, the CEO of Nowspeed Marketing, a full-service digital marketing firm serving a wide range of industries. Today, we have the great pleasure of getting to know Joanne Davis, a CEO Coach with C12. She has a wealth of experience in leadership from her time at General Dynamics and Gulfstream Aerospace. Welcome, Joanne.

Joanne: Thanks for having me, David. It’s exciting to join this conversation.

Nowspeed: I like to start with a mythbuster question. A common belief is that busyness equals productivity. What are your thoughts?

Joanne: Not true at all. I think many people equate busyness with importance, which is not necessarily correct.

Nowspeed: Could you explain that a bit more?

Joanne: Sure, the “bigger is better” mentality prevails in our culture. However, I’ve learned through personal and professional experiences that constant busyness and chaos aren’t the definitions of success. It’s more about finding meaning, value, and significance.

Nowspeed: Many CEOs want their companies to grow, implying “bigger is better.” Isn’t it a good thing?

Joanne: Bigger can be better, but busyness shouldn’t be the path to that growth. Leaders need to act like gardeners, pruning their business to allow healthy growth, eliminating the noise that comes with it. Busyness can be a dangerous trap, pushing leaders into a reactive mode, preventing strategic thinking.

Nowspeed: It’s easy to feel productive when busy. But how can leaders find what’s really important strategically?

Joanne: It boils down to prioritization. Leaders must intentionally allocate time for strategic thinking. For instance, I would block out time on my calendar where my door was closed despite an open-door policy. At C12, we encourage our members to take a monthly “sabbatical” from their business to focus on strategic aspects, like marketing or leadership development.

Nowspeed: Let’s talk about that first idea closing the door. It’s almost a cliché but often a trap for leaders. How does a business leader effectively utilize this time?

Joanne: One effective method is to have dedicated focus times during the day, without interruptions. Leaders should communicate these times to their teams and discourage interruptions unless absolutely necessary. During this time, leaders can deep dive into complex problems or strategize without distractions.

Nowspeed: It sounds like being “busy” with meetings and emails might prevent leaders from having that strategic focus time. How do you advise leaders to manage this?

Joanne: It’s crucial to evaluate whether every meeting is necessary or if the same outcome could be achieved through an email or brief discussion. As for emails, a common strategy is to designate specific times during the day to review and respond to them. This way, leaders aren’t constantly interrupted and can maintain their strategic focus.

Nowspeed: Some leaders may feel that they don’t have enough hours in the day to implement this strategy. What would you recommend?

Joanne: That’s where delegation comes in. Leaders must empower their teams to take on responsibilities and make decisions. This not only frees up the leader’s time for strategic thinking but also develops the team’s skills and confidence.

Nowspeed: Let’s circle back to C12’s monthly sabbatical. Some may argue that it’s impractical to take a day out every month. How do you respond to that?

Joanne: The objection is understandable, but we find that taking a day out for strategic thinking leads to more effective decision-making, which ultimately benefits the business. It’s about working smarter, not harder.

Nowspeed: What kind of activities should leaders be focusing on during these sabbatical days?

Joanne: It varies depending on the business and its current needs. Some might focus on long-term strategy, others might work on leadership development or financial planning. The goal is to focus on areas that will drive meaningful progress for the business.

Nowspeed: It’s evident that strategic thinking and finding time for it is crucial. Any thoughts on how leaders can better manage their time and avoid the “busyness” trap?

Joanne: I would say it’s about striking a balance. It’s not about completely eliminating busyness, but rather managing it effectively. Set boundaries, prioritize, delegate, and carve out time for strategic thinking. Remember, being busy doesn’t always mean being productive.

Don’t miss the rest of this useful interview with Joanne Davis. Make sure to tune in for the full conversation here.