I am a lone parent, following the death of my children’s father at the start of the year. Since I have three children under seven, balancing work and having kids means, like so many of us, I’ve always had to be ruthless with time and favours. But now, more than ever, I have to be organised.
"I have less tolerance for the nonsense vernacular of our industry"
But I prefer to put the violins away as, thanks to the weirdness of life, I have used this difficult turn of events to seek more out of the working day. This odd serendipity has happened in four ways.
First, I simply have less time, so I get on with it. Every spare moment – in particular, while commuting – is used to the fullest. I have found that some of my also-quite-efficient clients respond better to a quick text message than a phone call (where it inevitably rings out), and l use walks home to do the urgently needed voice calls.
Second, I have less tolerance for the nonsense vernacular of our industry. I was off for several months at the start of the year and, when I came back, it seemed there were ever-more new words and acronyms (even some new acronyms to replace old ones for the exact same thing). I now ask people to speak plainly, which usually enables us all to understand what’s going on a lot faster. Not to mention it creates more compelling arguments. What I would really like is for us all to speak and write using only words we knew when we were ten years old. The stuff we say would retain attention a lot longer.
Third, I don’t say "yes" as frequently as I did to clients. Not, oddly, because of time but because I have naturally become more frank, meaning I ask them to be clear on what they’re after. As a result, I get to the bottom of what is actually needed more quickly than I used to. Nine times out of ten, what we go back with shows less is more.
Finally, I am less afraid to delegate. Some stuff goes on now that I have no idea about. And I don’t need to know about it. And I don’t mind.
Natalie Cummins is UK managing director of Zenith.