I’m not normally one for resolutions. If I want to do something I usually just, well, do it. A new year is, however, an opportunity to take stock. To look at where you are, what you do and how you do it, and where you want to be a year hence.

During December I worked a lot on my business – thinking about the type of work I do and the direction I wanted my business to take. Time off over Christmas allowed me to reflect further and to crystallize my thoughts.

It is easy to spend all your time working in your business and forget to take the time to work on it. Even when you earmark time in the calendar to carry out important non-client work it’s easy for this to be shunted out the way because a last-minute project task takes priority.

And yet, when you do finally take a step back you recognise the value of doing so. Away from the demands of delivering to deadlines it feels good, like coming up for air. You gain a clearer perspective. I’ve always known it is something I should be doing more of, I now recognise it is a necessary and healthy thing to do, because I benefit as well as my business.

So, through 2016 I’m going to bake ‘margin time’ into my calendar. These will be blocks of time that can’t get postponed or overbooked with client work.

Time during every week, and three days every ten weeks will be margin time.¬†This isn’t idle time when I will put my feet up or sneak away for a crafty round of golf. It’s time that will be spent working on my business. Time that will be used to learn and grow, to develop skills, knowledge and processes, to assess direction, and to plan for the future.

I’m constantly striving to work better and smarter, and knowing I’ve got this time means that I can focus on doing just that. Equally I won’t be tempted to tinker, fix, and explore new technologies and new ways of working during time allocated to a client project, which means I can achieve better focus there too.

Sean Wes has recorded a podcast on this subject: how you can do better work by creating margin.