The Modern CPA Success Show: Episode 80
In this episode, our host and Summit Virtual CFO, Tom Wadelton, and Summit Virtual CFO, Iralma Pozo, discuss three tips you can take to prevent burnout, which focus on self-awareness, self-care, and communicating and setting boundaries. If you need to implement any of these in your life, then this podcast is for you!
[00:00:15] Tom Wadelton: So welcome to another episode of the Modern CPA Success Show. So I'm joined today by Iralma Pozo. So Iralma is one of our full-time virtual CFOs at Summit CPA Group. Iralma, welcome to today.
[00:00:30] Iralma Pozo: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:32] Tom Wadelton: So what we're gonna talk about today is the top three tips to avoid burnout. And I think almost every CPA will look and say at some point this job can get really busy and CPAs love to talk about busy tax season and busy this and that.
[00:00:44] And so we'd love to hear what those things are. Can you tell us why this is an important topic to you?
[00:00:52] Iralma Pozo: Well, this is important for me because I care about our profession and I know that we're always busy, so especially if you're, as we're doing things like advisory work, tax planning, things that are more forward thinking, there's no stop, and you have to make sure that you're managing yourself and helping others to avoid burnout. You have to be very proactive.
[00:01:14] Tom Wadelton: Yeah. Would you agree that in the short term, you can stretch, you can do all these things, but over a long haul that burnout can get to where you just can't continue it?
[00:01:23] Iralma Pozo: Yes, because busy seasons are no longer, not just contained in one season. They're like global warming. They're over the place.
[00:01:31] Tom Wadelton: Okay. I like the analogy. Okay, so top three tips. Do you wanna tell us what the three are and then we can go through 'em?
[00:01:36] Iralma Pozo: The top three tips are self-awareness, self-care, and communicating, and setting boundaries.
[00:01:43] Tom Wadelton: I love it. Okay. Do we wanna talk about self-awareness for a little bit?
[00:01:48] Iralma Pozo: So, self-awareness is very important for us because we are helping other people to work on their businesses, on their systems. When working with small businesses, for example, we are always, always talking to people about things that are very personal to them, like their business is their baby. You know, people interact with you in certain ways, so you have to make sure that you understand how you operate, how you respond to things.
[00:02:15] So, You manage that. You manage your communication with others. So taking the assessments is very important. I know people don't like always getting psychoanalyzed, but you have to do it for yourself. You have the chron type test where they tell you when you work best, so you know when to focus.
[00:02:29] You have the Myers Briggs, so that you know how you react and what you should be doing. And you have the DiSC assessment, which we use at Summit, which is really great, so that you know how your team members are. And I like to use stakeholders because team members are the immediate people you work with, but stakeholders include your clients, your colleagues, the people, the vendors, the other people in your network.
[00:02:55] It’s very important for you to be able to understand how you perceive yourself and how you're talking to yourself and what works for you so that you're not going out there and just taking on the world without realizing how it's going to affect you.
[00:03:11] Tom Wadelton: Yeah, I like the way you're presenting the unique nature of that, and it is sort of obvious now when I think about it, but it is really easy when you hear like top three tips to think, Oh, these are the things that are gonna work for every single person. And obviously that's not true for that.
[00:03:26] Iralma Pozo: Every single person is different. So yeah, we have to make sure that, just like when you create plans for clients, you're creating them for that specific business, for that specific department. We have to do that on ourselves because we have to treat ourselves like a business or like a project.
[00:03:45] Tom Wadelton: Yeah. So I'm curious, do you mind sharing maybe one or two things that you've learned about yourself from assessments? I'll be happy to share a couple things I can think of.
[00:03:53] Iralma Pozo: I've learned that I'm very empathetic and that I have to be very careful managing my energy. Negativity is very draining for me.
[00:04:03] So I can feel other people's negativity and things they're going through and really be able to help them to get through it. However, you know, if something is not constructive, that kind of brings me down a bit. So I always try to prepare myself for difficult conversations and really ask good questions, so I can get out of other people what I need to do to improve myself, to improve whatever interactions I have with them and the relationships I have with them.
[00:04:28] And also understanding that just because I understand someone is going through something, I may not be the person to help them. So not trying to be in that “savior mode” that sometimes people get, especially when you may be the only one working on something and you try to do it all. You can't really do that.
[00:04:43] You have to assess the situation and then go get the right help from the right team. So kind of being like the orchestra director, if someone is playing out of tune, help them with that and make sure they get back to the rhythm, but not thinking that you have to go play their instrument for them.
[00:05:01] Just notice things and facilitate it for them instead of, like they say in education, caring but not care taking. You can't take on everything.
[00:05:48] Tom Wadelton: So I'm curious, process wise, when you did these assessments, is most of this learning things that you got on your own from reading the results or did you get help from other people who maybe talked you through the assessments or classes or kind of what was the best way used to interpret the results?
[00:06:02] Iralma Pozo: I like taking a CPE that's kind of self development as well, so communication and just getting organized. I know you're a big fan of getting things done, so things like reading, things like that have a system that you can follow and make it work.
[00:06:19] And just be consistent with it. So being organized is very important. Always reflect on what I'm doing and if I need to adjust to change. I make sure that I have it all planned out, what I need to do. So it's been a mix of very high-level suggestions from others, taking courses on my own, reading, and things of that nature.
[00:06:45] Tom Wadelton: And for me, I'll mention a couple things just to give people other ideas. Two things I've learned through these kinds of assessments are that I'm more introverted than I would've thought. And so as much as I love talking to people and I do get energy from that, I definitely need some down quiet time.
[00:06:59] And the other thing, I'll mention how I manage these things, planning and kind of organizing work. You mentioned GTD, things like that. I actually get energy from doing those kinds of things. So those have helped a lot. But the introverted time, I need to block some time during the week to have some focus, some quiet time, and the nature of our job is, we spend a lot of time in these kinds of meetings with clients, and as much as I like that, when that's constant, I find that draining. And so I need to specifically plan that kind of time.
[00:07:26] Iralma Pozo: Yes, that's very important because the last time I took the Myers Briggs, it says I'm more extroverted than I used to be, but I still feel pretty introverted and I need time just to let my brain breathe and reflect on things and get organized. So sometimes, I'll set up some administrative time on a Friday or sometime every day, but I have to have that as well. I can't have 12 meetings and give, give, give and give feedback; it is a lot.
[00:07:54] So make sure that you understand how that works for you. Some people can go 12 hours and have 50 meetings and be fine and just go to the gym the next minute; understanding that is very important. People are gonna see your schedules open and have a meeting with you.
[00:08:10] So, it's your job to be able to say, No, I can't really speak to you right now. Let's coordinate for another time when possible, when feasible; we also have to be flexible.
[00:08:20] Tom Wadelton: Yeah. Any other things about self-awareness? So now you know what kind of person you are, what's important to me?
[00:08:27] Are there other points around self-awareness?
[00:08:31] Iralma Pozo: Well, we'll talk about boundaries, but making sure that once you know who you are, continue doing that deep work and that you don't let other people tell you who you are because you are who you are. So it's not like, this is me and just take it; but it's making sure you really know who you are. If you know you're gonna be falling asleep at five o'clock in the morning, if you have a meeting, don't have important meetings at five o'clock in the morning because you're not gonna do your best. And you should push back about that if it's possible. Yeah. Obviously if it's a lifetime opportunity with a client, you can't say no if you have to present at a conference at five o'clock in the morning because it's another country. Right?.
[00:09:05] That's not how it works. So really make sure that you use the self-awareness as part of your career map, and not just, I'm here and I'll deal with whatever people throw.
[00:09:18] Tom Wadelton: I think that's a great point. Both of us know Zach, who mentors and coaches all of us within our firm. And one of the tips he had given me is that my most productive time is first thing in the morning. I usually don't have meetings until 9:30 or 10, and that's when I can really focus, and he cautioned me from spending all of that time working on email.
[00:09:36] And he said, You know, that's often just very quick, get things done. And so usually in the morning I'll glance quickly at email and just basically see if sort of fire needs to be dealt with. And then his suggestion was, use that time for your focus time. And later in the day, maybe between meetings when you're done, then you can address your email kinds of things.
[00:09:53] That's very important.
[00:09:54] Iralma Pozo: I think that is really helpful.
[00:09:55] Tom Wadelton: Yeah. I also happen to know I am a morning person. I wouldn't do five o'clock in the morning meetings. I hope nobody does, but I know for myself, probably past 8:30 or nine o'clock at night, I don't think very clearly. So me planning a day that would say, Okay, I know it's a really busy thing, but I'll get this done tonight and I'll work till 11 o'clock at night and I've got team members who say, No, I'm fine with that; maybe I've got young kids and I'll get them to bed and then I can work.
[00:10:18] I just know when I sit up that time, I'll sit and stare at a spreadsheet. And can't figure out the answer. And maybe the next morning I glance and it seems like it's right there. And I had spent 45 minutes before looking at it.
[00:10:27] Iralma Pozo: Yes. I never did that until I went to grad school, and it's very draining to do it now.
[00:10:33] Yeah. So I tried to make sure that I really manage my time to get things done before eight o'clock; if I have to put in a few hours a weekend, I'll do it versus staying up.
[00:10:47] Tom Wadelton: Sounds like we're similar. Okay, so know yourself. That's a really important thing. I love the self-awareness piece. Should we move on to self care then?
[00:10:53] Iralma Pozo: Sure. So self care, I know with our deadlines and all of our responsibilities outside and inside of work, people say, ‘ah, you know what? I don't need to eat lunch. I'll sleep tomorrow. I'll sleep when I die. I'll drink coffee.’
[00:11:07] That's not acceptable if you're always busy, right? The better you take care of yourself, the worse your body's gonna treat you when you don’t treat yourself well. So, if you are always exercising and eating well, you're gonna crash sooner. There's no Harvard study or something that I have found saying that, but that's been my experience.
[00:11:26] The better you treat yourself, the worse it's gonna be when you don't treat yourself well. So I used to be the lunch police in certain jobs. Colleagues were tired of me saying, ‘Did you eat lunch? Because I'm gonna cancel this meeting and have it when you come back.’ Because, personally, if I don't eat by two o'clock, I'm done.
[00:11:40] There's no need to even speak to me because I'm just not functioning very well if I ate at seven and then it's two o'clock. So nutrition is very important. Sleep, fitness, and energy. Now, I'm not saying go run a marathon. I've been there, done that. When I say fitness, we're sitting all day.
[00:11:55] I know that you have your adjustable desk. Some people have a treadmill underneath their desk. I've worked with people who did get up at five o'clock in the morning, go to the gym and then go back home and iron their clothes and go to work. Find something to do. There’s all these apps now that you can just log on and do 15 minute yoga, stretching.
[00:12:15] You don't wanna hurt yourself, right? Because if you hurt yourself, you can't sit all day. But if you sit all day, you're hurting yourself. Your energy, managing your energy. So people manage their time, but they don't manage their energy. So, back to, can you work after 8:30? No. But you can probably read for an hour if you wanted to.
[00:12:29] So, do the things that align your energy with what you're doing. If you have a very important client meeting and your brain doesn't wake up until 10: 30, then have the meeting at 11 because you need to just get yourself ready mentally; don't force yourself to have to do things when you don't have energy.
[00:12:50] Your body is what it is. And then with sleep, a lot of people say that they don't really pay attention to sleep, so you have to get up at a certain time and wake up at a certain time every single day. Nap during a certain period if you're a napper. I can't nap because I take four hour naps and then it ruins everything.
[00:13:09] And I would never nap during the day during work hours or anything like that. But sleep is very important.
[00:13:16] Tom Wadelton: To mention sleep, we're in a culture that, don't we love to brag that we don't get sleep. Right? I mean, how often have you heard someone say, I only need or I only get four and a half hours of sleep a night; it's this badge of courage that a lot of people wear. That is not good.
[00:13:32] Iralma Pozo: They're these few people who, naturally, their body only requires four hours of sleep. Good for them. But you don't wanna have your body wired and have it stressed and feeling like everything is an emergency. And, because you wanna be present, especially in the line of work that we do, we can't show up to a client meeting all wired up and just rushing them.
[00:13:54] We have to listen, we have to manage the meeting, and we have to manage expectations. So if we don't sleep, that's gonna reflect or there's gonna be low energy and that's gonna be a problem. So I think also the nutrition is important because I remember when I was trying to squeeze more time in my day and I would just stop at a, a coffee shop (that would remain nameless) and just grab a very sugared-up coffee and a pastry and eat it while I was walking to the train station.
[00:14:22] That was not a real breakfast for me. My family's from the Caribbean. I wanna have a real breakfast. You know, you can't have a five-course breakfast every day, right? But, you know what your body needs, the fuel you need to sit down and be able to focus. So I'm not saying don't eat sugar, but make sure you understand what you're eating that works for you, for the work you're doing.
[00:14:44] I think more of the problem is not eating at all. And waiting until people get home or whenever all meetings are done. So they're not managing their day; their day is running them, and then it gets to four o'clock, and you haven'.t eaten; that's not gonna help you. You're doing all this work. Brain food is real
[00:15:06] Tom Wadelton: Do you find it easier or harder to eat healthy while working at home? And not binge and things like that.
[00:15:12] Iralma Pozo: In a sense, it's easier because if I meal prep and I prepare a few and cook a few things, the food is right there in the fridge and I just have to heat it up for three seconds and I can have it. I can sit down and eat on a proper plate and have it for like 10, 15 minutes, and it's like, alright, I'm at an actual table eating in peace.
[00:15:32] But if I don't prepare, it is like, oh wait, do I have to order something? What do I do? And then, I'll have to make something really quick. A lot of people are spending extra money and getting these weird little prepackaged things to help them with that, Right? To help them from working from home.
[00:15:50] Sometimes that has a lot of sodium and sometimes it has less nutrition, but you have to pick and choose what you're gonna do. So mixing it up. It's cheaper to work from home food wise because where I live, my state has a high cost of living. And lunch can cost you like a dinner in most places, right?
[00:16:12] So you really have to manage that though. You have to be prepared for it. It can't be, Oh my meeting ran 10 minutes late and now I have to eat lunch and I only have 10 minutes. No, you have to be prepared for it.
[00:16:21] Tom Wadelton: I like the thinking ahead. For me, just the access to unhealthy snacks is a drawback to being at home.
[00:16:29] And so what happens to me is, I get busy, I've got five minutes between meetings and I haven't eaten lunch, so I go down and I grab something really sugary, so I just have to be careful about that. You can be conscious and say, Okay, it's gonna be an apple instead of chocolate, or something like that.
[00:16:43] Your idea of meal prep makes a lot of sense: you can have a nice lunch very quickly if you've planned ahead.
[00:16:49] Iralma Pozo: You shouldn't beat yourself up over that. For example, I love to eat chocolate, so I don't consider that junk. Even if it's the most sugary kind. Yeah. I try to eat organic, you know, 90%, 70%, whatever it is, but you like what you like and you eat what you eat.
[00:17:05] Just make sure that you're getting the nutrients you need, because the last thing you wanna do is go to the doctor and they say your iron is low, your cholesterol is high. You are dehydrated. You haven't been eating, you've been sitting at work at home, and you've just been staying there.
[00:17:22] You know, the sun comes up, the sun comes down, and you're still sitting there and you, and you haven't had water all day.
[00:17:28] Tom Wadelton: One thing I would emphasize, and I think has been maybe a thread throughout all of this is, I think consistency is so much more important than intensity in this area. And when you mention things like exercise, so someone who can do 15 minutes a day, if that's what you can do, I think you're in a much better position than saying every weekend, I'm gonna go for a two-hour run, and it's gonna be this really intense exercise to do that.
I think you're gonna get a much more benefit by saying, I can carve off, and maybe it is only 15 minutes or 10 minutes, to start with that you can do, but I think that would be true about sleep and eating and everything else is like little bits can make a big difference if you do it consistently.
[00:18:05] Iralma Pozo: It sure can. Consistency is key. Like just like when we set up clients and we have them set up systems that they can do, you know, regardless of how busy they are. We have to set up systems for ourselves that we can do, regardless of how busy we are; if we only do it for a small percent of the time, that's better than not doing anything and just letting things fall off the guardrails.
[00:18:24] Tom Wadelton: Have you seen any trends or read about any trends that companies are helping employees with self care? Or do you feel like this has to be a ‘I've gotta take care of myself’ thing?
[00:18:33] Iralma Pozo: I've seen this disconnect where companies have a wellness officer and all these things, and. They have metrics that are based on hours worked. Then you have to make sure that all performance-based bonuses and things of that nature aren't just based on hours worked. Because what if somebody gets really fast and good at their job and delegating and automating things and they're not putting in 2,500 hours a year or 3,000 hours a year, or 4,000 hours a year. They're putting in 1,800; they're not under working. But they're doing everything efficiently. They've got themselves under control, and then they're slammed with other work.
[00:19:17] And, you know, their vacations get denied, or there's no flexibility in the schedule. They said they're gonna work out every day at lunch, and they can't anymore because they can't block off that time. So there's a disconnect between all these great things that we could do to feel great.
[00:19:34] I've worked with people, and I can say this because I've worked in many places, so I'm not singling anybody out , that they're like, I don't take lunch, and you should stay here. Go get a granola bar and, and just come to this meeting. And I'm like, No, change this meeting because every day we can't do this. We can't just never eat lunch, or cater the lunch and let us eat for 10 minutes.
[00:20:00] And then there are wellness programs. So it's like, I can't eat lunch, but you're telling me that you're gonna gimme points if I work out. When am I gonna work out if I'm passing out in the middle of the day Because you don't let me eat lunch?
[00:20:10] So making sure that we lead by example. If I'm working with someone who's younger than me, has less experience than me, I'm not going to tell them I'm skipping lunch because I don't want them to think that's normal, that that's expected of them. Or, if I do have to do something, I let them know, I'm doing this because of X, Y, and Z. That's not the norm.
[00:20:31] Like setting that example and I don't wanna say be the lunch police like I used to be, but I don't even schedule things around certain hours that I know people normally do their things, their self care things or their food or whatever the case may be.
[00:20:49] So be very proactive about setting that example and respecting other people's time where possible. Obviously, if we have an emergency, we have an emergency. But it has to be the exception. It can't be every day that I'm saying, “Tom, can you meet with me?” And I've seen on your calendar that you're at lunch or you're working out at that time.
[00:21:07] Tom Wadelton: Yeah, I think that modeling behavior can be good. I think a couple of other things I have seen have been bosses who refrain from sending messages on the weekend, and they might batch them up and send them out on Monday, but they're intentionally not sending things out on a Saturday. And it can feel like, ‘I just want to get off my plate.’
[00:21:22] I don't worry that I don't want you to respond over the weekend, but to the employee receiving it, it can be this feeling of, ‘Oh, he asked me a question Saturday at noon, I'm supposed to answer this weekend.’ So that that could be an example how they could model that.
[00:21:35] Iralma Pozo: Well, I started working in accounting before they had wifi, so before they had the internet. I'm exaggerating, but we wouldn't really have access to our emails.
[00:21:44] But I understand some people really wanna make sure they don't forget something. So what I used to do in the past is draft an email to myself and send it to myself with people I needed to email later. Or a Word document and send it to myself.
[00:22:02] But people have to understand that everyone is different. So if it's their way to get organized, we could have so much to do and sitting there on Sunday between 10 and two and drafting things, turn off your notifications. You don’t need to respond to everything and have a way to communicate things that are urgent.
[00:22:22] Like if you have some instant messaging apps that people put the urgent things that need to be addressed within two hours and use that. It's very, especially nowadays, people cannot disconnect. Everything is on your phone. It's constantly pinning you. So we have to be mindful of how we communicate with other people, because we don't want them to think that we're expecting them to do what.
[00:22:44] So it's more like, ‘this is how I like to communicate.’ I guess this is kind of a good segue to our next tip.
[00:22:51] Tom Wadelton: One last point about that. So we talked about modeling the behavior. I've heard a number of people in our firm say that we teach our clients how to treat us.
[00:23:02] So, if I receive a request from a client on the weekend, if I'm in the routine of answering that on the weekend, I'm teaching that client that if they will send me things on the weekend, I'll answer. And I've really encouraged people saying, ‘You can if you wanna work on that, but I would suggest you not answer them until Monday, unless it's really an emergency.’
[00:23:18] Because then you find the clients getting upset because you said, Well, I sent Iralma 10 things and she answered me on Saturday. So when she doesn't, now I'm mad.’
And if you were to complain to me, I would say, well, who taught them it was okay to send stuff on the weekend? And you would honestly say I answered them 10 times. So I taught them that that's how they should expect.
[00:23:35] Iralma Pozo: I learned the hard way early on to never do that. I literally have worked on things that people sent without letting them know I worked on them to get a head start. As with any interactions with people, you have to set this tone.
[00:23:52] You have to let them know that this is how we're gonna do it. If there's an emergency, if it's a one-off thing, sure. But everything cannot be urgent. Everything has to be prioritized. Give them the communication policy that you have and how you address emergencies.
[00:24:08] Tom Wadelton: I agree.
[00:24:09] Okay. We're bumping right up against a third tip. You did everything but say the word boundaries in that last answer. So, communicating boundaries is that third tip. So, you're aware, you're taking care of yourself. So tell us a little bit about the importance of boundaries and communicating them.
[00:24:24] Iralma Pozo: So communicating and sending boundaries is about letting people know exactly how you're gonna work. So, for example, your calendar management, setting the expectations for your end of day, and your meeting flow, how you're gonna work during the end of day. So boundaries are not just about other people; they're also about yourself.
[00:24:42] I work from home. I need to let my brain know that I'm done for the day. Okay, you shut down your laptop, you put it in your drawer, you put on your sneakers, you go outside and you walk your dog. You take a walk around the corner and you get something at the store and you come back and your brain knows I'm done for the day.
[00:25:07] Right. Whatever it is, it's something simple. Or, you put everything away and you watch a cat video. But then you have to make sure you put a timer because cat videos are fun and you don't wanna watch cat videos all day. You forget to eat dinner. So make sure you have those boundaries for yourself about how you day.
[00:25:27] Some people have a commute because for them the issue is starting their day. Working from home, someone can just easily get up five minutes before they need to be in a meeting and just make themselves look presentable and jump in, as opposed to starting their day reflecting, eating, whatever it is that they do.
[00:25:47] Make sure in the meetings that you have an agenda, right? I don't think anyone goes to a board meeting without an agenda. You have an agenda to make sure that if people are going down the rabbit hole, you’re letting them know how you're gonna address it.
[00:26:01] People need to feel like you're listening to them. Like you're seeing them and you're listening to them, and you're paying attention to what they're saying. Being mindful. There's a time and place for everything. So if they're bringing up things that have nothing to do with what the meeting is about, then you gotta tell them, we're gonna have to talk about this in another meeting, or I'm gonna send you a resource for that.
[00:26:23] But bring things back. With calendar management, I know someone who says, if it's not the calendar, it's not happening, right? So it can't be that things are over the place and you don't know what's going on. Like, right now, you should know what you're doing tomorrow, if possible. Right?
[00:26:37] So make sure you're using those apps and syncing the apps so that if someone asks you today if you're available at five, you're not guessing; you can just open it up and see. And sending people links to your calendar is very easy and important because you don't have to sit there and type up five availability dates and times.
[00:26:57] You can just send them the link and that takes care of it for itself. Some people are really good about putting their calendar link in their email signature, so if someone wants to talk to them, they just go on their calendar, and send that link. Respect the meetings as well. I used to work with someone who set no buffers in between meetings.
[00:27:14] So it was like one meeting will start, and the meetings don't have buffers. But this person for their own meetings was overlapping meetings. And they thought I was crazy because I asked them, ‘Why? Where are the buffers for these meetings?’ There should be 15 minutes between each meeting, and then there should be like one hour without any meetings.
[00:27:32] And they thought this was the weirdest thing in the world, but the high-level work they were doing, I would've taken two hours after those meetings because those meetings were intense. You should sit down and write a case study after each meeting. They were so intense. They thought that this was a lazy way to work.
[00:27:48] No, you can, you have to finish the work that you're doing at that moment; otherwise, it becomes all this homework, and then every day you just have all these things to catch up on because you didn't manage your calendar.
[00:27:59] Tom Wadelton: So you might schedule 45-minute meetings, for example, right? And then it gives you 15 minutes to hopefully wrap up and prepare so that when you step in the next meeting, whatever documents you need to look at, they're open, and you're ready to go.
[00:28:12] And both of us, probably, I know I've had lots of experiences where I haven't done that. I let the 45-minute meeting go late, and I'm frantically trying to open everything and shut things down, and it's a stressful way to start a meeting and I’m not at my best during that time.
[00:28:28] Iralma Pozo: Yeah. When I've taught classes, I've walked into classrooms. It's okay for students to talk to me while I'm setting up. But I always walk in earlier to set up because I don't wanna open up things while class starts because it's every moment that passes, you can lose the attention span of the students.
[00:28:46] Once people start falling asleep, the class is over. Make sure that they're not sitting there waiting. When you go to a show or you go to a game, things are happening right away when it starts to start. Try to make sure that things are happening as quickly as possible.
[00:29:05] And then set expectations with yourself and other people, because I know I'm very hard on myself. But setting expectations, letting people know how you work and asking them what they're expecting of you. I find that sometimes, especially in the type of work that we do, a lot of people are so busy trying to get things done.
[00:29:24] They may not communicate at that granular level for certain things; it's like, okay, do this project, but then what do you mean by do this project? I have like 25 years of experience. What does this mean? What exactly is your idea of what the deliverables are because everyone thinks differently.
[00:29:44] They may not know what you're asking them to do. Be very detailed to people when you're delegating work to them, what you expect them to do and when you expect them to do it. Asking questions. I find a lot of people don't manage up very well. It depends on who they're speaking with or what they're doing.
[00:30:00] If they're new, if they're not new, make sure you're managing up at all times. If you're working on 10 things, your supervisor's working on 50, their supervisors working on a thousand.And one misconception, one miscommunication, it can just ruin everyone's timelines for deadlines
[00:30:19] Let's say you have a firm partner who has to spend three hours in a meeting with a client for something that was small; that's a waste of money.
[00:30:33] Tom Wadelton: I think with clients, that can be really important because that is managing up. And I can give you an example recently where it really did help a lot we're at the beginning of 2023 planning. And so she had asked me, this is our operations director, if I could put together a couple of models for what next year might look like. And she was very ambiguous about what she wanted in there; it was a little bit of customer growth and some shrinkage of existing customers and some new people.
[00:30:59] That was about the details she gave me. And so I said, Can you gimme a little bit more? And she was a little bit lost. So we spent about 10 minutes going through and saying, so what kind of people? What's the timing? And she was frustrated at first, but what was good is I said, I can make assumptions, but I can almost guarantee you I'll be wrong.
[00:31:15] And then, I'll be showing you a model that, from the very beginning, you'll want to change things. And after we spent about 10 or 15 minutes, we got very specific about what she wanted in there. And I was saying, we can change this after the fact. But I'm positive in her mind she thought she was very clear with what she wanted.
[00:31:30] And it was helpful for me to go through that because we had a great conversation and when we were done, there were still some things she wanted to change, but it was better than her changing every single one of the assumptions that I had done. I mentioned Zach before. He uses the term “paint done.” What does “paint done” look like? And describe for me what that is. And so I think that's a really good, good suggestion that you have.
[00:31:48] Iralma Pozo: That's very important to have those conversations because some people, they don't spend the time talking at the beginning and then, you're not framing things right.
[00:31:59] You're not [00:32:00] delivering the right things. Taking that time saves time because the work gets done.
[00:32:06] Tom Wadelton: Let me touch on one more thing that we haven't mentioned. What about the use of working on mobile phones? That has made the office sort of everywhere. Do you wanna talk a little bit about that?
[00:32:17] Iralma Pozo: Boundaries. I have worked on my phone underneath hair dryers at salons to handle emergencies, client emergencies, when I was doing some work on my own. So my idea of working on phones is yes, apps should work on your phone in case there's an emergency. You should not be disconnected because we all have responsibilities, right?
[00:32:38] It's not like there's ever an end to the work. Sure, you should have flexibility to have things on your phone, but no, you shouldn't even work on your phone.
[00:33:00] There's too many distractions that can take you down the rabbit hole. You can start looking at other things. You can start feeling very nervous if you're just being pinned all day. So I think it's best if people work on their laptop, or I don't think people use desktops anymore, do they?
[00:33:14] Just work in your office environment. Work on your computer. Have a dedicated space to work and devices to work with. And the phone should be more of, someone needs to call me. I've allowed this person to call me. You know, we've scheduled a call or I'm gonna step out because I need air and I need to make sure that when I need to meet with time in 10 minutes, that if for some reason I get stuck in an elevator or I decide to walk down another block, I need to start the meeting early.
[00:33:42] I can put my headphones in and start the meeting. I'm not missing anything. I'm not forgetting anything. So yes, all apps, I feel all apps should work on phones. People should have access, but people shouldn't be working on their phone because it can be very intense.
[00:34:14] Tom Wadelton: What I think with that, just to reinforce what you're saying, I think being intent in what you're doing, and so I agree completely.
[00:34:22] For me, it can be great if I'm somewhere and it’s an easy question the client asks and I can get it resolved. I feel good that I got that to you today versus tomorrow. The part that doesn't work well for me is like if I'm watching television with my wife and I'm scrolling through email, I'm not really spending time with her and I'm not really spending time at work.
[00:34:40] And what I realize about myself is when I get done, I just feel bad that I sort of wasted my time. And that's the part I think being intentional of, okay, am I opening up my email for a purpose? Or is it because my phone's conveniently sitting there and I'm just sort of half bored?
[00:34:54] Iralma Pozo: So, that goes back to setting boundaries for yourself by saying, I'm not working right now. If I forget something, I will record a voice note, and send it to myself at work. And not even log in after you shut down. If it can't be done on your phone, it's not gonna get done. If you can't open up your iPad and just send yourself something, you shouldn't do it unless obviously it's an emergency.
[00:35:19] There's no end to this work. There's no stopping. So the work is gonna be there. It's always gonna be there. I had a manager who said, If you can't finish it in two hours, don't even look at it. Just get up and go. Okay. Because there has to be some kind of separation; you have to be present when you're there.
[00:35:37] Like, you're here, you're talking to me, right? You're not thinking about throwing out the trash tonight or about going to the supermarket. We have to be very intentional about being present as much as possible and freeing up our minds and being organized.
[00:35:57] Make sure that we just do a brain dump and leave it alone. And we're only human. Turn off the notifications. Don't even look at it. Have a notebook where you just write three things that come to mind. Everyday things come to mind. Just write it down somewhere; have a place for it so you don't forget it. But don't go back and open up your laptop and start working again. Sure, people think this is a bad idea, but if you don't separate these things, then it becomes like you don't have a moment to breathe.
[00:36:38] Tom Wadelton: So,let's kind of put a bow on this. Remind us of the three key points first that you had.
[00:36:47] Iralma Pozo: The three tips are self-awareness, self care, and then communicating and setting boundaries.
[00:36:54] Tom Wadelton: Good, good. So for those listening now and saying, What I hear is all the things I'm doing wrong with all these examples, maybe it feels overwhelming to say I can't suddenly be sort of the perfect person doing all these initial tips within the next week. What are a couple practical things to say to at least get yourself started?
[00:37:15] Iralma Pozo: I always like to look at the vision. Sit down with yourself and ask yourself, what would you like your life to be like next year? Okay. How would you like to feel? Would you like to feel relaxed walking into meetings and being able to laugh with your colleagues and your clients, or you wanna be wired and rushing through the next thing?
[00:37:34] How do you want your body to feel? If you drop a hundred dollar bill, can you pick it up or is your back going to give out because you haven't stretched in so long because you've been sitting so long? Understand what you want to feel in each area of your life; how do you wanna feel? What can you take responsibility for? What things can you do for yourself in five minutes every day? Quality over quantity.
[00:38:00] Tom Wadelton: Yeah. And since we talked about consistency, for me, one thing that I would suggest to people is doing something helps and sticking with it. So I think it's fairly impractical for someone to say, I'm going to do all these things. It's gonna be a fitness routine, a nutrition routine, a sleeping routine, all that at one time because, most likely, you'll be really intense for a short time and then stop doing everything.
[00:38:20] What I would say you might consider doing, is there one thing you can start with? Like your example about ending your day. And maybe what you say is, at the end of the day, I'm gonna shut down my laptop and I won't turn it back on until the morning.
[00:38:34] And that's a big difference from what I do today when I wander away and then I wander back in and keep doing it. And if that's what you're doing, I would suggest that maybe that and say, how is that working? And do that for 2, 3, 4 weeks. And can you then add something to that and work your way to where several months from now, you're in a very different place. I think those small steps could really help.
[00:38:53] Iralma Pozo: And I guess I'll say if you have not taken any type of assessment, take one. Start to see how you really are and keep getting to know yourself.
[00:39:01] Tom Wadelton: Yeah, that's a great idea. Excellent tips. Hopefully we’re in sort of a reflective time of the year where people are kind of getting ready for New Year's resolutions or next year's a new fresh year, something like that, that these can be some good tips that people can put into practice.
[00:39:14] And these are several things I think I do some things really well, but I'm certainly not perfect. And so several tips that I'll take that you've suggested. Iralma, thank you very much. This has really been helpful.