The Best Place to Find More Time
Content was originally published on Inc.com on August 26, 2015.
As a business owner you’re perennially strapped for time and stretched to the breaking point.
So where is the best place to look to find more time?
Some people say get into the office earlier, other say stay later, and still others suggest you come in and work on the weekends. All of these can help, but they don’t deal with the real underlying time issue. What I tell our business coaching clients is that you don’t need to work longer hours (you’re likely already working too many hours as it is), but rather you need to get more value from the hours you are currently working.
The first place to work to “find” more time is to carefully audit the low value junk time you’re already doing so you can replace this low value work with higher order activities.
Action Step: Time Log (1 week)
Keep track of your time in 5 minute increments for one week. Log what you do and note any tasks that you’re doing that you could either pay someone else $30 or less per hour to do, or that would have very little real consequences if you delayed or simply didn’t do them.
These are your low value “junk food” hours. And if we carry that analogy forward a moment, what’s the easiest way to lose weight? Is it to work out for an hour a day at the gym? It isn’t. The easiest way to lose weight is to replace the junk food, empty calories that you eat with healthier options.
To find more time do the same thing. Identify your junk time tasks then apply the 4 “D’s” to them, reinvesting the saved time in higher value activities.
This is the easiest place to make changes because consequences of dropping or delegating these junk tasks are small.
So list all the junk activities you do on a weekly basis. Once you’ve identified them, you can apply the following “four Ds” to get them off your plate.
The Four Ds
- Delete it. Some low value activities just plain shouldn’t be done by anyone. Look at the action item and ask yourself what’s the consequences if no one did it. If it’s small, then consider just crossing it off of your list altogether.
- Delegate it. Maybe it’s a task that needs to get done, but not necessarily by you. Hand it off to your assistant, or a staff member, or a vendor. Anytime you can hand off a lower value activity to someone, you free up both your time and your focus to do more valuable work for your business.
- Defer it. Maybe this task needs to be done and done by you, but should it happen right now? Sometimes delaying the action is the smartest choice.
- Design it out. If you find yourself handling a recurring low value activity over and over, instead of doing it, improve the process or system to keep the task from coming up in the first place. For example, if you get the same seven customer questions repeatedly, post a FAQ page with the answers on your website. Or perhaps you can preempt questions by giving new clients a “quick start” booklet that proactively answers these seven questions. Or maybe create an instructional DVD that gives new clients your best presentation while answering these common questions. You get the idea. Designing out a recurring activity is the very essence of building a systems-reliant Level Three business. It simplifies processes and empowers your team to get consistently great results with less and less reliance on you, the business owner.
I’ve seen the above formula work magic for clients, helping them get a bridgehead to reduce their working hours and reclaim a sense of control about their business day.
If you would like to watch a full hour video training on our top time mastery strategies for business owners, click here and access our free Scale Tool Kit. Enjoy.