I arrived at Blenheim Palace yesterday in preparation for Countryfile Live which starts on Thursday. Blenheim is one of my favourite places in the UK, the parkland is fabulous, and the palace itself is stunning.
As I sit writing in the caravan, looking out over the peaceful countryside, I’m struck by how my attitude has changed in 2019. I have always had a reputation for doing things last minute. I used to see this as a virtue, signalling that I was busy and had a lot on the go. I have come to realise that this is nonsense.
My old approach to business was to try and cram as much as possible, into as short a time as possible. This strategy meant I never allocated enough time for any activity. I was always in a rush and consequently running late.
So, for a typical week, I would do all my office work on Monday and Tuesday and then start everything show related on Wednesday morning. Load the van, drive across the country to the event, drop the caravan in the exhibitor’s campsite and then charge off to build the stand. I was always tired, rushed, and stressed. Heaven help me if anything went wrong. I had no margin for error.
For the last twenty years of my business career, I have operated in the same stressful way. But this year, I have adopted a very different approach, and I cannot tell you how much it has improved the quality of my life, and most importantly, my results!
I used to play a lot of tennis, and one thing that marks out the greats is the appearance they give of having all the time in the world. They are never flustered or rushed, the ball never arrives too fast or catches them unprepared.
With this in mind, I have started arriving at the showground a day or two early. Rather than trying to fit everything into one day, I now spread the workload over two or even three days, mixing it up with my office work, which I can do from the caravan.
It’s such a simple change but has relieved 90% of the stress from my job. I can anticipate the problems and the bottlenecks, for example, I can choose the day and time to unload and set up the stall, so avoiding the rain or the crowd of other exhibitors.
I drive more safely by not rushing, I don’t drink gallons of red bull to keep myself awake or pump my body full of adrenaline to get everything done. I complete the same amount of work as before, but it feels easy rather than stressful. I’m relaxed and in control rather than on the edge of panic!
I guess the key takeaway from today’s post is to do your work early rather than last minute. If you are under pressure and feeling stressed from a heavy workload, then I suggest you rethink the order in which you tackle tasks. Don’t lump them all together, even if outwardly, like my show it is all connected.
Some tasks need more brainpower; some are more physical; some have deadlines, some don’t. Don’t try and do all the physical jobs in one day. Nor too should you leave all the thinking tasks for one day, your brain will need a rest.
The secret is to break your activities down into small blocks of work that you can complete in a two- or three-hour session, then move onto something different. Follow a mental task with a physical one, and so on. This way, you come at each one fresher, and you will be more productive.
You have the ability and the skill to make your dreams a reality. The key to achieving them is learning to harness your enthusiasm and passion, making it work for you rather than against you.
Together, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.
6 thoughts on “The Last Minute”
I have been reading your blogs on and off over the past few weeks, thank you. It is lovely to read of someone’s experiences that pretty much mirror mine of the past twelve months. After 30 years of seriously abusing alcohol, relationships, myself and life in general and being the most selfish person on the planet, I decided to change.
I am just about to leave Yeldall Manor (please Google) where I have been a resident for the past 11 months. Yeldall is a Christian drug & alcohol rehabilitation centre in Berkshire. In short my life has changed beyond my wildest dreams. I now live a life as a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). I have serenity, peace, patience, tolerance and a genuine love for and interest in people, places and things other than myself.
Yes, I have been successful in years gone by – I had my first platinum album as a recording engineer at the age of 19, I moved to Cornwall in 1995 and started the Eden Project with my great friend Tim Smit. How on earth all those amazing things happened with so much vodka and cocaine inside me I will never know!
I am now starting my new life living back in Farnham with my wife and daughter and as well as continuing with my songwriting and production (largely for pleasure), I will be earning my crust largely through marketing and copywriting, something I am good at end enjoy.
If I were to share/suggest one book you may enjoy reading (if you haven’t already), I implore you to zip to Amazon now and order yourself a copy of Rick Warren’s “The purpose driven life”.
I wish I lived a bit closer to Cheshire as I have a feeling we might rather enjoy working together, but in the meantime, I shall enjoy keeping an eye on your blogs and progress.
With thanks and every blessing.
Thanks for your lovely message. I have bought the book you recommended on audible, so will look forward to listening to it. The treatment centre you mentioned sounds fantastic, I had a read up on their services and wish you all the best for your recovery. I know how hard the journey is, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
I believe the key to my recovery was learning to celebrate the small positive choices I make each day rather than dwelling on the big things I was giving up. My thoughts and prayers are with you. If I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Thanks Luke for sharing this post. I am working towards this, creating more space in my life. After spending 8 hours at my computer getting through the back log of admin work involved in running a small business, your message about small blocks of work, makes sense. Thank you.
Love your blog, especially today’s as I work like that too. I find the entries I read inspirational as well in line with my Christian faith. Keep them coming. The products are excellent too!
Oh so true! I am working towards this as well; learning I have the power to create my own environment and bring down the stress. Love your blog, and your candles…thank you.
Luke, I find your musings are inspirational and very encouraging. I try to be an optimist, and your story about your ‘Blenheim’ experience was very good advice.