When I discovered that I too could find seven available minutes in any given day, I wondered if those seven minutes might change my body. It turns out, they would change my business.
It was a hot summer Friday. I was in the midst of tripling the distribution of Brenne — a whisky I started from scratch in France (while based in New York City) after my professional ballet career ended — from 12 to 35 States. But, I had a lunch meeting. I was running late, sprinting into a downtown Manhattan restaurant, feverishly firing off texts and emails so I could attempt to be fully present with my guests: two models turned entrepreneurial powerhouses. As the salads were ordered and the Brenne Whisky cocktails flowed, the conversation progressed through everything you’d expect from type-A ladies who lunch: romance, travel, work, life. And then, that terribly overused phrase… Work-life balance. Ugh.
At this point, I griped about feeling I had less and less time between meetings, flights, whisky blending, scaling a business, and clinging to some semblance of a personal life, to even think about exercising. “Well, how do you two do it!?” I huffed.
They looked at each other, then at me, and said in unison, “seven-minute workouts.” As they explained it, the seven-minute workout can be done anywhere, requires no equipment, no money, uses nothing but your own body and, you guessed it, a few minutes of your time. We have all heard about these fad workouts, and I was excited, sure, but equally full of doubt. There is just no way less than 10 minutes can be impactful, is there?
As with any recommendation from friends who seem to have it all, I quickly downloaded a “seven-minute workout” app and, to my surprise, learned that a few minutes of focused, simple exercise really can make a difference. With healthy eating habits, I’ve found it to be a great way to supplement a week (OK, sometimes a month!) when running or yoga are not manageable. All in all, I am a fan. Fast, efficient, and effective? Yes, please!
This got me thinking: if “under 10 minutes” seems to motivate me to exercise, and it actually works, where else in my business could benefit from a more direct approach — and a timer?
I started making a list of the things I wanted to do for Brenne Whisky, but never felt like I had the time:
- Personalized thank you notes.
- Follow up with stacks of business cards.
- Organizing those stacks of business cards(!).
- Check in with department heads more frequently than our monthly directors’ meeting.
- Check in with sales managers.
- Read more industry articles.
- Listen to that business podcast.
… There was a lot.
So, I created a timed “power hour” for myself. One hour per week (usually Wednesday mornings) was mine to tackle anything on that list. I set a timer, and put my phone across the room. No texts, calls, emails, or Instagram. One hour, blocked on my calendar — my time for whatever I deem important, yet tends to take a backseat to high-priority meetings and calls.
To my delight, it worked here too. I felt more calm and centered after being in the zone for just one of these power hours. So much so, I have started using this technique elsewhere. For example, it is easy to lose an entire morning to email. While it is important to stay on top of internal communication, it is usually not the most productive use of time or brainpower. When I feel one of “those” runaway email days unfolding, I give myself one hour to be fully in my inbox. The rest of the day needs to be spent doing something of greater impact. I set my timers, flip over my phone, and off I go. Maybe even finish off the hour with a seven-minute workout! If I need more email time, it can come at the end of the day. But more often than not, the focus and productivity is so much better, an hour is more than enough.
The trick is fully respecting that timer. When it is on, I am doing nothing except the task at hand. My workdays (and workouts) feel more in control and I feel more accomplished. Plus, I have more fun! Owning my time is how I get in the zone and tap into my inner Superwoman. That, and a Beyoncé playlist.
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