Let me introduce myself, if you came on my blog for the first time. I am Giuseppe Paternò and — although you may not have heard of me — I’m one of the world’s top IT consultants, at least according to HP and Forrester Research. Most of my life is spent working and travelling around Europe. While I own two companies and have my own team, I’m still something of a one-man band. I’m bombarded by phone calls and e-mails (something like 1,500 daily), clients always want things done yesterday, and the demands on me grow greater every day. I was finding it tough to cope with the resulting pressure and really suffering until I came up with these seven simple strategies to make my life easier. I hope they will help you too. Although of course you’ll still have challenges, your life should become more manageable and more enjoyable.
- I’ve scrapped all the social apps on my phone. I noticed that social media like Facebook and Twitter were adding to my anxiety. Since I use them for business, as well as for keeping in touch with friends, more people were messaging me about professional matters on Facebook and wanting me to constantly keep checking-in whenever I arrived somewhere for a business appointment. I found that my first chore every morning was checking social media over breakfast. I’d had enough of it. Now if I have to post something for a particular deadline I use a social media manager like Hootsuite. Uninstalling social media apps from my mobiles really eased the pressure on me.
- I took off my watch. I didn’t plan this, but one day the battery on my favourite timepiece ran out. I didn’t have a chance to replace it, so I just went out without a watch. That’s when I realized that I had been clock-watching all the time and stressing-out if I was just a little late or didn’t feel I had enough margin between meetings. Now if I need to know the time I just check on my mobile. I accept that there’s nothing I can do if I’m caught in a traffic-jam or my plane is held up. As a result I’ve become the master of time, not its slave.
- I banned instant messaging. One of the first things I realized was that I wasn’t able to get any real work done when people were showering me with instant messages. As soon as I launched Skype, for instance, half a dozen people would be messaging me. So I abandoned Skype, along with WhatsApp, Telegram, IRC and the rest. Now I can finish my work in peace.
- I forwarded my calls. People feel entitled to call me 24/7 and are quick to take offence if I’m unreachable. But why? In most cases it is something routine which could easily be handled by email. One day a colleague happened to mention a “virtual secretary” service he uses to take calls to his landline when he’s out. So I began using it for my mobile. Callers are happy to get an answer even when I can’t pick up or am out of contact, and the secretary emails me with their messages.
- I email at set times. When the internet first took off I recall logging onto my emails once a day and answering every message, out of respect for the sender. But these days people are using emails for chat and, with a daily influx of 1,500 or so, I clearly can’t respond to them all. So I’ve gone back to my original practice of dealing with emails at set times, once or twice a day. If it’s urgent, I ask people to text my mobile instead. So I now enjoy more uninterrupted time every day.
- I watch some bedtime television. These days there’s a lot more pressure on me than back when I was 19 and working for IBM. But even though I’m now a consultant, I still like to express my “inner geek” by playing around on my laptop in the evening. The downside is that there’s still code whizzing around in my mind at bedtime. The solution I’ve found is to switch off at the end of the day by watching 30-60 minutes of TV shows (movies are too long), either broadcast or via a streaming service like Netflix or Sky Go (for those in EU). So now I go to sleep more easily. See if it works for you too!
- I spend time with my partner/family. A big benefit has come from making sure to spend quality time with my wife. I’m abroad a lot of the time and weekends just fly by with necessary chores like housework, shopping and so on taking forever… It’s a problem we all face. But my wife is sometimes able to take a day off in the week, due to the shift system she works, and wherever possible I also take the day off to share time with her. Business pressures fade away and I can feel my batteries being recharged when we take a simple walk together or stroll around the shops. Okay, I admit it may be easier for me as a consultant to book a day off during the working week, but I think it is something most of us can arrange now and then if we just give a little thought to it.