- When you have a choice, use the following two factors to decide to invest your time on an activity or task:
- Is this “thing” worth more than your minimum dollar threshold (whatever you decide that number to be)? If you haven’t yet developed your “worth” invest some effort to calculate an hourly dollar value of your time as soon as possible. This is very important because every time you say YES to an activity or project, you are effectively saying NO to many others.
- Does this “thing” contribute toward accomplishing one or more of your goals? You must strive to relate EVERYTHING you invest your time in to your goals.
- Build an extended team, not only employees, that you can delegate (not abdicate) items to. That’s how the billionaires get leverage, you can too. If they are knowledgeable about the “thing” you are delegating, your extended team may include your CPA, attorneys, family, mentors, etc. Do not delegate to unqualified people. Also, remember in a corporate environment, if you are careful, you can delegate upward.
- One of the best habits I adopted after I completed ActionCOACH induction training is – Never finish today, until you plan tomorrow. Before I leave my office, I list out my must achieves for the next day.
- Be Militant about those who undervalue your time by interrupting. You can:
- Get lost – work remotely
- Not answer the phone – call screening works
- Regulate email – you can set the polling interval in most email apps
- Be busy and be obvious about it
- Set the timer on the bomb (my favorite), “I have a call in five minutes”
- Block your time – create a default diary (ideal calendar, default calendar) communicate it and stick to it.
“I am happy, but not satisfied.”He used that exact wording to answer several additional questions as the interview progressed. I was struck by how simple and yet very powerful this phrase is. The concept represented by these six words is extremely important. How many businesses have stopped growing or failed because management or owners became “satisfied?” When I had my consulting practice before joining the ActionCOACH team, I met many business owners who were earning more than $500,000 per year who became satisfied with their businesses. “Why should I continue to push hard, I’m making more than I need?” “I am working too hard and have no time to enjoy my wealth.” Many wanted to start enjoying the fruits of their success, reducing the attention and time they devoted to their businesses. Many of those businesses no longer exist, failed due to over-satisfaction and the resulting lack of attention. Two things need to be highlighted here:
- I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t celebrate when a major goal or milestone is achieved. There is nothing wrong with a brief pause to celebrate and “smell the roses.” Celebration is very important, for you and your team.
- One of the motivating factors that drove my decision to join ActionCOACH (and many of my colleagues) is our definition of a successful business:
A commercial, profitable enterprise that works without YOU (the owner)
I work with my clients to design, plan, structure and build their businesses so they will earn more and work less. I enable them to achieve the state of happy life, but continuing dis-satisfaction with the value their business brings to their team, customers, community, and themselves.At lunch, that same day, I continued my rereading of John C. Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership ((10th Anniversary Edition). I came to Law 18-The Law of Sacrifice. The following from Law 18 makes the point.
“…today’s success is the greatest threat to tomorrow’s success. And what gets a team (or company) to the top isn’t what keeps it there.”I couldn’t have said it better. My ActionCOACH colleagues or I will be happy to assist you to build your business, so you can earn more and work less.
Time Management is really Self Management!This is not exactly a new idea, I’ve said this during numerous presentations. So why highlight it now in this blog? It seems to me that many of us brush off the importance of time-self management. Taking an “I am what I am” attitude rather than seeking to improve our use of our time. Thus, I am going to reiterate a few of our top self-time management tips:
- Set personally motivating goals – if your goals are truly important to you, you must strive to connect every activity to them. In the article, Maxwell encourages creating a Priority Inventory, another way of looking at the connection of your goals to your activities.
- Don’t finish today until you plan tomorrow – Maxwell explains two concepts in his article; be deliberate in your use of time, and hone your decision-making skills. Once you increase your awareness of your goals and their relationship to your activities, you will become more deliberate in your investment of time. The decision as to what to address and what not to address will become easier, enhancing your self management. Remember, every time you say “YES” to something, you are saying “NO” to many other activities.
- Create a Default Diary – a schedule of how you intend to invest your time on “normal” days. Your Default Diary (Ideal Week or Default Calendar, we use these terms interchangeably at ActionCOACH) accomplishes many things; it sets your time expectations, and communicates them. You will feel uneasy when your activities conflict with your internal clock once it has been set via your Default Diary. Many of my clients use their Default Calendar as a communication tool with their teams, using the tool to create “deep thinking” time slots.
- Delegate – Effective delegation is the key to successful time and self management. None of us are expert or skilled in all aspects necessary for the success of our businesses or lives. We are faced with the choice to do it all, abdicate or delegate numerous times every day. Should I change the oil in my car myself? Should I abdicate the oil change by simply dropping off the car at my local service station? Or, should I effectively delegate the oil change by carefully selecting the service station or dealer, asking them about the oil and filter they are going to use, and all the other details related to the oil change? I used this example to exemplify the fact that we can all delegate to our extended team even if we have no direct employees. When delegating, John Maxwell makes the point the we should not mistake activity for advancement. This applies to those we delegate to, as well as ourselves.
“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo EmersonRemember, you cannot replenish your time, once a moment is gone, it is gone. As Steadman Graham said at one of our ActionCOACH conferences,
“Time is the great equalizer. We all have 24 hours in a day.”His message continued to say that the very wealthy use their time more effectively. How are you investing your precious time? My colleagues and I at ActionCOACH are uniquely qualified to assist you toward effective delegation and successful self and time management.
- Waste time feeling sorry for themselves
- Give away their power
- Shy away from change
- Squander energy on things they can’t control
- Worry about pleasing everyone
- Fear taking risks
- Dwell on the past
- Repeat their mistakes
- Resent other people’s successes
- Give up after their first failure
- Fear “alone time”
- Feel the world owes them something
- Expect immediate results
“Planning without Action is futile, Action without planning is fatal” UnknownOne of the most profound concepts I have embraced since joining the ActionCOACH team is the many positive results of having written plans. It is commonly believed that those who have written plans outperform their contemporaries by a large margin. While the often quoted alumni studies at Harvard or Yale are urban myths, one actual study conducted by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, (to you can read her research summary click here) provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools:
- Commitment and
- Writing down one’s goals. This study demonstrates that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement.
- You attain focus – you weed out the noise that naturally occurs in your life
- You prioritize – things in a logical order prevent you from over committing (biting off more than you can reasonably accomplish).
- Your filters open – your conscious and subconscious mind are opened to collect the resources, knowledge and partners you need to achieve your goals
- You communicate – a plan is a great communication tool to use when you delegate and seek assistance
- You create a great “rallying point” for your team
- “The city relied excessively on outside consultants and failed to adequately monitor progress.” Simply setting things in motion without proper follow up and metrics is Abdication.
- Whatever follow ups and measurements that were in place may not have been on an appropriate schedule – Abdication.
- “An inordinate amount of time” on paperwork “detracted from the ability of staff” to do their jobs. Having ineffective reports and paperwork amounts to Abdication with a false sense of security.
- Delegation Plan – As is the case in many business projects, planning is a key element of success. Therefore, you must have a delegation plan. This plan should include:
- What is to be delegated – a clear description of the task or responsibility you are going to delegate
- Who is this item going to be delegated to – not only who, but you will need to have a clear understanding of why the recipient is the ideal person (or team) to accomplish your goal
- Definition of Success – have a clear understanding of what your expected result will be, and be able to clearly communicate this definition of success
- Metrics – know how you are going to measure progress toward success
- Time frame – is the item to be delegated on-going or finite
- Follow up – know how often are you going to check on progress toward success
- The Why – You must have a clear understanding of why you are delegating the item. Your why may include some of the following:
- You do not have the necessary skills
- You do not like the task to be delegated
- Someone on your team (either internal or external) has more experience or professional training
- The item is not the most effective use of your time and attention
- The Item Must Be Something That Can Be Delegated – Simply put, if you are the surgeon, you must do the surgery. On the other hand, if you are the surgeon, you will certainly delegate the anesthesia. It is counterproductive to delegate something that only you can accomplish AND is core to the success of your business
- Communicate the responsibility or task to be delegated – know exactly how you are going to define what you expect
- Communicate the definition of success – know exactly how you are going to define and measure success
- Communicate the bigger picture – know how you are place the delegated item into the context of the businesses success and mission
10. Activities that will speed up your cash flow – This includes collection calls, invoicing on a timely basis, responding to inbound customer inquiries, processing and shipping orders and making it easy for customers to buy from your business, to mention just a few.
9. Tasks that are already streamlined and documented – This is one of the keys to achieving both leverage and consistency in your business. Without leverage and consistency your business will become increasingly chaotic as it grows, if it grows at all.
8. Tasks that involve government or other outside, often-changing regulations – You simply do not have the resources to keep up with regulations. Make sure to delegate to trained professionals whose job it is to be up to date. For example, a while ago I was introduced to a customs lawyer. She told me that her new law practice was booming because U.S. Customs is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. She mentioned she found many companies that have been importing materials for years, always completing the paperwork the same way that are un-wittingly, no longer in compliance. Worse yet, the potential penalties are many times larger than before DHS was formed.
7. Anything that you want your team to master – You will never achieve leverage in your business if your team does not master operational tasks. Mastery supports consistency. Consistency is a prerequisite to growth.
6. Tasks where you are the bottleneck – If everything goes through you, your company can only work at your speed and capacity.
5. Areas that are beyond your skill-set or competence – Simply put, if you are not good at it, you shouldn’t be doing it.
4. Anything that you shouldn’t be doing – If you are tempted to do that low-value task that is not time sensitive, stuffing envelopes, shredding out of date documents, etc., you are keeping yourself from adding the most value you can to your business. Remember, all of us ultimately are compensated for the value we add, not for the time we devote.
3. Tasks that keep you from growing your business – The main responsibility of ownership, whether you actually own a company or simply take ownership of your responsibilities, is to develop and grow your business.
2. Anything you hate to do – If you hate it, you most certainly will not do it well.
1. Anything that requires specialized knowledge – You cannot possibly be an expert about every subject necessary to build a successful business. You can never go wrong delegating to expertise on an as-needed, demand basis.
Bonus – Any subject where you can benefit from someone else’s experience – We are not omnipotent; learn from the mistakes of those who went before you.One very important word of caution: You must not abdicate any of the above; you must learn and practice effective delegation. Please share your experiences and results from delegation or abdication with my growing community.
- All of the shortcomings he mentioned represented areas that are outside of the ownership zone. They all focused on working IN the business rather than working ON the business. They revolved around tasks that he could, and should delegate. My client owns a mid-sized manufacturing company with a front office team that has the theoretical capacity to accomplish most, if not all, of the items he mentioned. On the other hand, his front office team may not be the right team to accomplish the items. Which led me to my second realization …
- Being an owner is very different from being an employee. An owner has several prime responsibilities, among them are:
- To create and maintain a success environment for his team
- To create, communicate and live the company’s Mission, Vision and Culture (M/V/C)
- To design, build and lead the company and its team to ensure consistent delivery of the company’s M/V/C
-Have you identified your team (both internal and external)? -Are you delegating? Successfully and effectively? -Are you even trying to delegate those things you are not good at, hate doing or shouldn’t be doing?If you answered NO to any of these questions, you must answer YES to the next question:
-Are you your businesses biggest roadblock, in the way of growth and long term success?No delegation equals no consistent growth, no long-term success and you becoming, if you haven’t already, a slave to your business with no exit plan. I don’t mean to imply that successful, effective delegation is easy. Delegation is both an art and a science which must be studied before it can put into your daily routine. It starts with your desire to get leverage in your business, a desire to delegate. If you are not currently delegating, are not getting the results you expect in your business, have no plans to delegate or don’t know how to begin delegating, get thee to a business coach. Any of my colleagues at ActionCOACH and I are expert in successful, effective delegation.