When it comes to managing things as a small business, your plate is already incredibly full. So you may already be thinking, “David, I really don’t need more things on my list of things to manage.” But I want to encourage you to stick with me on these, because these three things are possibly the most important things you can manage, and they will make the biggest difference in your business’s growth and development.
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As children we didn’t learn through scientific studies or from books — most of what we learned behaviorally came from observation of other people. Our parents, our siblings, and other relatives and community members. Our parents probably had the biggest impact on how we learned to interact and move about the world. Likewise, when it comes to your staff, one of the biggest indicators of behavior has to do with how leadership behaves. Our staff watches everything we do, especially in high-stress moments, and our example shows them how we want them to behave in similar circumstances. So the three things that I want you to start managing have to do with you. They are:
In order to manage your time, you must know how to value your time. To do that, think about what your A- and B-level activities are. Then create blocks of time in which you can get work done. Most of us are living our business days on small little micro-slivers of time between meetings and tasks. You cannot get your most high-value work done in small slivers — you need blocks of time in which to devote your best attention. Even if you get five hours of your week back, those are five hours you’ve reclaimed to work on tasks that create value for your business. Imagine the possibilities.
Next, you need to manage your priorities. Your priorities are what you think is important — where you should spend your time, money, and resources. You can get your priorities in line by creating a strategic action plan. Make it specifically for the next three months. Think about the one, two, or three most important focus areas, and your clear criteria for success. What would have to happen this quarter for you to be successful in this focus area this quarter, and what are the key milestones and action steps to get you there? Creating this action plan will help you determine what your priorities are moving forward and allow you to act on them quickly.
Next up, you want to manage your attention. This is where the action really happens. It’s the space between your time, your priorities, and the day-to-day. You have your priorities in line and the hierarchy of what you need to get done in the time that you have. Where you actually focus your time, effort, and energy on any given day or week tells you how which priorities you value. Your behavior might reveal your priorities as very different than what you’re stating on your action plans for your team. The very best leaders behave in a way that reflects their stated priorities.
Once you start on these three things, you will start to notice how your other key team members and staff start to follow suit. Good luck!
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