I recently ran a three-week Productivity Challenge with some of our Leveraged Advice Firm members...
....and I wanted to share a six-minute highlight reel of our session from week 1.
Time management can be a really touchy subject, particularly right now because I know that there's nobody still in our industries who has not been working hard.
The last two years, we've had all sorts of competing priorities, so when I start talking about managing time, it's important for me to put it out there upfront that it's not because I'm criticising, or saying you're not working hard enough, or you're not juggling.
It's simply that I want to share what I know are some of the best habits, approaches, and structures that help people to get more time.
There are real challenges when you break it down.
We are massively over-connected these days, being available almost all the time.
People can email you, they can message you, they can SMS you, they can phone you and the expectation is that you'll respond.
The result is often that we're constantly being distracted.
We don't necessarily give ourselves time to get into the flow.
The problem with that is when that happens, you just end up stop starting. And when you stop starting, you might feel like you're doing 120%, but you're actually about 35% output.
So I wanted to help by focusing on three areas.
- Helping you to define exactly what your role is supposed to be and what's it's not,
- Defending your ability to focus on certain things by defining what gets prioritised and what gets parked,
- Protecting your headspace, which can be about the environment and is also about contact-ability.
Here are four key principles that have best helped me
When I do pricing with a practice, after we've done the work a number pops out.
Often what happens next is a business asks the question, "Can we reduce that? Can we knock that down by 40%? Can we make that 6 to 12 hours?"
The challenge is usually very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve greater than 30% efficiency gains without fundamentally changing the process or changing your business model unless you're open to eliminating something.
Elimination is by far the best way to find efficiency gains.
That also goes for what you're willing to take on vs. say no to.
We're all guilty of saying yes to things we really shouldn't, clients we really don't want to work with and opportunities that really don't make sense.
On the flip side, each one of us has a sweet spot when it comes to the work we can do more efficiently and often it's linked to enjoyment. Each of us has a "zone".
- What's your zone.
- What do you most love to do in your business?
- What's the work that really floats your boat?
- What produces a higher ratio of satisfaction to time spent, that you can spend even as little as five minutes doing it every day and it boosts your satisfaction levels?
If you can find the balance between the two, and hand off the 40% to 70% of your role that could actually be done somewhere else (yep, that's the typical outcome when I do a Role Audit with a client), you've got a ready-made route to claiming back 2-4 hours a week effortlessly.
#2. Insight & Structure.
I use my calendar for everything.
Not just the meetings with others, I book meetings when I need to do specific work, exercise and anything else that requires a commitment of my time.
Pre-booking time enables me to make sure that when I'm sitting down, I can turn off the computer and I can just get the specific work done.
Having a way of structuring how you spend your time and tracking what you do is powerful.
I even have an app called RescueTime that sits on my laptop, phone and iPad, monitors what websites or tools I'm using, categorises them according to how productive they are for me (my definition) and keeps me honest.
So every week you can jump in and see what's actually going on.
#3. The One Thing by Gary Keller
This book is absolute gold and one of the big myths it blows up is the lie around multitasking. It doesn't exist. No one can do it. it's literally just doing more than one thing badly.
I love that when you accept this as fact, it forces you to choose by asking...
What's the one thing that I can do now that if I focus on doing first and foremost is going to make everything else easier or unnecessary?
This makes you decide which actions are more important.
This acts as a filter and removes any of the noise around.
It ignites something called the domino effect which is when you knock over the first thing, if it's the right thing, it can make knocking over the second thing easier and everything thereafter.
#4. Task to Time
I started doing this Hour of Power session thing at the beginning of the year. It's a session where myself and a bunch of program members get together to nail systemisation every fortnight for an hour.
When I began, I made the mistake of approaching it saying:
"I'm going to start the clock and you get as much as you can get done in 40 minutes"
...when what I should have said from the beginning is
"Do it in a way that 40 mins from now it's finished"
When you make the shift from "I'll do as much as I can" to "It has to be done" you change your way of approaching it. Often you realise you can't work the way you have before.
To achieve the outcome, you need to find a better way.
Dictation is something that everybody should be not just looking at, but doing (frankly).
It's madness to me that if you go back 70 years (aka the Mad Men years), everything back then was Dictaphones and touch typing.
Yet somewhere amongst all this technological innovation, we thought it was a good idea to get everybody to go to typing at 40 words per minute?
So, my challenge to you is to find a way to reclaim 10 hours in your week, then work out what to do with that time to claw back the next 10 Hours?
Are you ready?