There is an interesting article in today’s edition of The Times – at least it’s interesting to men, like me, aged 50 or older! It is called Less Is More: How To Be Fit After 50, and shares a study by Dr Peter Herbert, a 70-year old fitness expert who has found that gentle daily exercise, interspersed with 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training every four days, makes the biggest impact on men’s health and fitness. In other words, he recommends minimizing training to get the best results.

I have seen a similar pattern in businesses. Many managers are so busy and stressed out they are unable to perform at their highest level. They attend relentless meetings, catch up on emails and call their teams to provide the latest updates. But they do not find the time or space to work on the big ideas that will really drive their company’s improvement.

Conversely, some of the most successful business leaders I know are those that are able to carve out time – through a combination of effective delegation, work prioritization and time-management discipline – to allow their minds to relax so that they can consistently and relentlessly focus on developing their big ideas.  What’s more they achieve their successes at a significantly faster pace than other executives, as they aren’t trying to do everything that the organisation is throwing at them.

It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of organisational life, but if you do so you run the risk of being extremely busy and tired, but disappointingly ineffective.

What is your aim for 2016? Is it to be busy or to be productive? If it is the latter, then I suggest that, like lycra-clad fitness fanatics described in Dr Herbert’s article, you develop the discipline to become less busy but more focused on the actions that will make the biggest difference.

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.