As a small-business coach, I have seen it all. Thousands of business owners each year work with my team to help grow and scale their businesses, and the vast majority of those owners usually come to us completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things that they need to accomplish every single day. Then when you add in friends and family, it’s no wonder that the average business owner works eighty-plus hours a week and feels like they will never get enough time in the day.

This is one of the main reasons that we focus a lot of our time and attention on creating a sustainable scheduling system from day one. We call this focus time, which is the idea of blocking off your calendar a few times a week to get high-level tasks done without interruptions. This for many business owners is a new concept, and one that takes deliberate practice to adopt.

Small Slivers

To begin using this method, you want to set up a few blocks on your calendar of at least a couple of hours each time when you say no to meetings and interruptions. And the big thing to remember is that those small breaks between meetings don’t count, because they really aren’t a good time to do anything productive.

You just can’t get great work done 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there, 10 minutes here. These small slivers of time are just that–small slivers. I have three young sons, and if you go into any of the bathrooms in my house, you will almost always find the soap there dwindling away to almost nothing. It’s almost gone but there will be a small sliver of soap in the shower. Drives me crazy. Why doesn’t the last person replace it and put a brand new fresh bar of soap in the shower–right? Well, my sons won’t do that. They somehow think that you can use this small little micro-sliver of soap and get the job done.

But in reality, most of us are living our business days just like my sons, on small little micro-slivers of time. You cannot get your best high-value work done in small slivers of time (nor can you expect to get clean with such a small amount of soap). You need blocks of your best attention. So typically you are in the office on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. And you may work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. But there you have meetings, lunches, coffee breaks, etc. So you really have only a few solid blocks of time to work with. Maybe it’s the two hours after your coffee. Or the two hours before you leave for the day. Whatever it looks like for you, block it off on your calendar and let everyone on your team know you aren’t available during that time.

And then spend that time working on high-value tasks. Because at the end of the week, if you spent four hours or six hours doing high-value work, you will be miles ahead of your competition. A full bar of soap or a solid block of focus time makes a world of difference, and you will notice the difference almost immediately.