Over the last 25 years, I have worked with thousands of business owners to help grow and scale their companies. One of the biggest hurdles most founders and entrepreneurs experience is the inability to manage their time correctly and focus. Throw into the mix cell phones and emails, and it then becomes nearly impossible to stay on top of your to-do list and focus on big-picture items.
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This is why I like to teach my business coaching clients about the “buffet strategy” of time management.
There are generally two types of tasks that come up within your business. There are items that help build and grow your company, like making key hires, networking and product development. For the sake of argument, we will equate these to the fruits and vegetables on a buffet line.
Then there are the tasks and urgencies that are better suited for an assistant or another team member. These are the “fires” that land on your desk demanding your attention — tasks that someone else (if properly trained) could handle without your help. We will consider these tasks to be the less-healthy options in the buffet — your fried foods, pasta and sweets. These items fill up your to-do list quickly, but offer very little in terms of growth and forward momentum.
Now, if you are like most people, there is a certain appeal to those less healthy options. Being able to swoop in and save the day on an office project makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Sort of like a big bowl of mac ‘n cheese. But it doesn’t really help you build and grow your business.
In order to do that, you need to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you want to build a successful company, you need to focus on fruits and vegetables. Fill up your plate first with tasks that will propel your company forward, not just things that make you feel important or wanted within your business. When you step in the office in the morning, remind yourself to focus on healthy options first, then, if there’s time, a little piece of cake.
If done correctly, your plate will be so full of nourishing tasks that propel you forward and you won’t have any time left for the “unhealthy” tasks.
Ready to hit the to-do list buffet? Begin by taking an inventory of all the tasks that come across your desk in a given day, week or month. Then give each a rating based on how you think it contributes to your success and growth. If it’s something that ranks high, keep it on your plate and focus your energy. If it turns out to be “junk food,” hand it off to a team member or simply drop the task altogether.
Over time, you will find yourself spending more time at the salad bar and less in the ice cream line.
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