Is Your Business Sluggish? By Henry Mittelman
Does your business feel more like a tugboat than the jet boat it’s supposed to be?
The challenge serious business owners and entrepreneurs face is that there are so many things they can do in the course of a day, that they frequently fail to do what’s most important.
Many business leaders seek out my services strictly because they don’t know how to organize their time each day. They even fail to identify what the best use of their time might be.
Effectively managing your relationship with time plays an integral role in your experience of success, and in your ability to lead a fulfilling life.
It’s what separates the achievers from the dreamers and wannabes, and that’s why Time Management is a Key Pillar of Success.
MYTH: The more I get done, the more productive I am.
FACT: Success is about doing the right things, not doing many things.
If you believe this myth, you’ll always feel like nothing is getting accomplished, even if you work twelve-hour days. In fact, the key to productivity and success is adopting an effective focus that integrates the big picture with the daily operating of your business.
When you commit to performing high-leverage activities, and to create positive emotional experiences for your clients, your focus is sharp and on-point; your strategy is directly linked toward your goals of success and growth.
One of the things I stress with all my clients is that money can buy you a lot of things, but it can’t buy you time.
We are all dealt the same hand when it comes to time. Each of us is allotted 525,600 minutes a year and an equally finite number of hours each day.
Whether you’re a billionaire or unemployed and crashing on a friend’s couch, you get twenty-four hours to your day no exceptions.
So the big question is: How do you use them effectively?
As the leader of your business, you should be focusing on tasks only you can do. I always ask my clients, “Don’t tell me what you enjoy doing. You can only accomplish which items on your list? Give me a comprehensive list of the activities that play to your strengths—the activities that will help drive your business.”
When faced with a decision of whether to spend your day doing bookkeeping or recruiting clients, ask yourself: What activity offers more value? What activity drives my business? Can one of these activities be outsourced? Send the bookkeeping to someone else. Go out and get those clients, find a JV partner, develop a strategic alliance, develop a new product or service, review your metrics to see why you’re coming up short, and develop a plan to fix it.
Here are some strategies you should consider.
Strategy #1—Run A Strict Calendar
An important factor that separates moderately effective business leaders from highly effective business leaders is an airtight calendar.
Business leaders who operate under the discipline of a strict calendar avoid getting tossed into the endless loop of emails, phone calls, and impromptu visits because they have a structured timeline keeping them on course throughout the day.
You need to be in charge of your day, not let others dictate how your day plays out.
If you want to achieve a high level of effectiveness that rivals or exceeds that of your competitors, you must control your time. Scheduling out our entire day gives you the control and power to keep you from getting STUCK.
Your first order of business each morning after arriving at work should be closing your office door and creating a game plan for the day.
Write the high-leverage activities into your schedule first. Don’t tell yourself, “I’ll get to making the calls or writing the newsletter when the time becomes available.”
Schedule a specific amount of time for each task on your daily calendar.
This is a fairly simple step, but it holds considerable implications for the degree of success and eases your experience in business and life.
Strategy #2—Employ The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 Rule is an extremely important piece of the productivity puzzle—perhaps the most important. It is a go-to strategy that works in all areas of life.
Remember, effectiveness isn’t defined by how much work you complete.
You can do a lot during the day, but achieve very little if you’re not focusing your efforts where they matter.
Invest in the 20 percent of your to-do list that offers the highest value, and only you can only complete.
These activities are the engine of your business—they’re fundamental to the growth and moving forward. Like cream, they always rise to the top.
Strategy #3—Delegate Or Outsource Everything Else
Understanding the importance of delegation within your business operation is crucial to your effectiveness and success.
You will never have time to finish everything, so hand off tasks to others who can do them (they may even be able to do them better).
If you’re a one-person show, don’t be afraid of outsourcing.
Many business leaders resist delegation because the act feels threatening.
They don’t want to give up the power and control inherent in completing everything themselves. This is a dangerous mistake.
If you’re uncomfortable with delegating, you will be in a constant state of overwhelm.
More importantly, you won’t be achieving your goals. If you refuse to pass off low-leverage activities, you’re either putting the high-value actions on the back burner, or you’re completing them haphazardly.
Neither scenario offers a desirable outcome.
Meanwhile, you’re running around stressed and frazzled, thinking.”There isn’t enough time to do it all!” You’re right. There isn’t. Be smart with your time and delegate
Strategy #4—Take Regular Breaks
Spending two hours on a high-level thinking task without taking adequate breaks leaves your mind dull, unfocused, and fatigued. The outcome of your work suffers.
Taking regular breaks provides your mind a chance to relax and avoid tiring out.
Stepping away periodically throughout the day enhances your critical thinking skills, mood, and ability to approach problems from a new angle. Your work then becomes sharp, skillful, and effective.
Research shows taking breaks every fifty minutes during the workday is critical to productivity.
I like to suggest taking more frequent breaks, as with The Pomodoro Technique, named for the little kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (Pomodoro in Italian) that author Francesco Cirillo used when he developed this method.
In Cirillo’s method, a “Pomodoro” is twenty-five minutes of focused work plus a five-minute break interval.
The main idea is to break a more significant task into those small bits and pieces we talked about, and then tackle that task in a highly focused time frame.
The Pomodoro Technique Is Based On Four Main Principles
1. Work with Time—Not Against It
2. Eliminate Burnout
3. Manage Distractions
4. Create a Better Work/Life Balance
To start using the technique, you will have to:
1. Decide on the task and focus.
2. Set a timer for twenty-five minutes.
3. Work on the task (and absolutely nothing else) until the alarm sounds.
4. Take a short five-minute break and then go back to your task.
5. Take a twenty- to thirty-minute break after completing four cycles of twenty-five minutes each.
Believe me, twenty-five minutes of uninterrupted, focused time is huge.
If you don’t think so, sit in a chair, close your eyes, and don’t open them until you think five minutes has passed.
If you’re like most people, it will feel like forever.
Eliminate those “short” interruptions, such as emails, phone calls, etc., and you can get an amazing amount of high-quality work done in twenty-five minutes.
The five-minute break gives you just enough time to clear your head, so you start again fresh.
It keeps you from burning out. I also highly suggest that you schedule on your calendar a few 15-minute breaks during the course of the day … and go to an area that does not have a computer screen.
Screen elimination time can help clear your head, help you to think more creatively, and recharge your energy level.
You’re 100 Percent Responsible For Everything. Period!
Your business has a responsibility to help employees understand the true nature of effectiveness.
As the leader of your business, it’s your job to equip your employees with the tools necessary for effective work habits.
If you adopt highly productive work habits, but the rest of your business is stuck in the grind of low-value busy work, you’ll constantly be taking one step forward followed by two steps back.
It’s up to you to ensure employees are focusing their efforts on activities that move the business forward.
Employees may be getting a lot done during the workday, but if they aren’t accomplishing tasks leveraging their talents and the business’s resources, they’re wasting their time and yours. Ask yourself if their decisions are smart and strategic.
Employ the strategies espoused in this book, and then teach them to your team.
When The Day Is Over …
Time management is a source of frustration and anxiety for almost every business leader.
Everyone wants in on the secret to walking step-in-step with time instead of racing to keep up with the clock.
Unfortunately, reading time-management books and undergoing time-management training sessions aren’t going to have a tremendous impact on your effectiveness, and they’re going to take up a lot of time.
Yes, the new information gleaned from a seminar or book may endow you with more knowledge, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to implement it into your life in a tangible way.
Improving your relationship with time requires you to do some things we will talk about in the upcoming chapters a willingness to prioritize, delegate, and release limiting beliefs.
You need to change, and change is difficult for most people.
However, when you make these changes in your approach to business and life, you start each day from an empowered vantage point that leads to less frustration and more effectiveness and growth.
About Henry Mittelman
Henry Mittelman provides his clients an unbiased clear lens, guidance, sounding board and the strategic counsel to effectively implement the appropriate procedures, systems and tactics necessary to drive the business forward day after day! Henry is a distinguished member of Forbes Coaches Council, a Keynote Speaker and author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling Book “Get Your BusinessUnSTUCK for GOOD!” www.ceoadvisorypartners.com Phone: 617-901-6159
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