Using Downtime Productively

Businesses have gone through many stages in the past few weeks – probably more changes and decisions have been made than in the previous year or two alone. Many businesses hadn’t seen the restrictions coming, and were caught unawares when they did, whilst some had begun contingency planning at the first mention of the work lockdown on the other side of the world.

Since restrictions have been put in place though, most business leaders have traversed many phases and battled a variety of emotions. In the early days many decisions needed making very swiftly and days were packed full.

For some businesses the pace has now slowed down and, for those that are experiencing a lull in work but not able to do much in the way of business development, they may be looking at a variety of ways to utilise their time more effectively. This time to reflect and learn can be invaluable in helping businesses relaunch stronger than ever when restrictions lift, and some form of normality resumes.

BNI members are luckier than most business leaders though. As part of BNI membership you have access to a network of people that want to support you and learning resources that most people can’t use. Without doubt, developing your skills is one of the most productive activities you can do if you’re experiencing a quiet patch. At BNI we strongly believe that lifelong learning is fundamental to business, and self-development, so encourage you to put time aside each week to learn something new.

We have laid out five simple steps to using your time more productively, with a focus on learning and development. These ideas work now but should also be considered when ‘normal’ returns.

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1 – Identify your skill gaps. Talk to members, colleagues, friends, clients and suppliers and ask for honest feedback. Be open, not defensive. Ask what they think you do well, how you could be more effective and what they think you could do to help them more. Make a note of the feedback and identify which areas you want to focus on.

2 – Schedule it! Allocate time in your diary each week for learning. Block it out and make it sacrosanct. Maybe one slot or three one-hour windows spread over the week to break it up.

3 – Be a Book Worm! Ask members for business and personal skill related book recommendations. Make a list and commit to reading one per month.

4 – Build a Library! Ask member colleagues and other contacts if they have any support materials that may help you with your learning areas. Collect any sources of information together to build a library of learning!

5 – Work BNI. Log on to BNI-U and trawl the resources available. Remember to book on to any available skills workshops, attend any BNI webinars and read articles and other learning pieces that are released. Also don’t forget lessons shared on the BNI social channels by HQ and other members.

Learning is so valuable and can be enjoyable. If planned well, then any quiet periods you’re experiencing now could be turned into a real positive. We encourage you to make a plan and dedicate time now (and in the future) to developing yourself and preparing to build on your success well beyond the current situation.

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