We have a finite amount of time, resources and capacity for getting things done. It’s been bothering me recently just how much of that time we all appear to spend doing the least meaningful tasks.
A lot of the reading I’ve done over the last six months (great recommendations from a client) has to do with focusing on one key thing at a time (Gary Keller – One Thing) and the fact that most of our results come from a small amount of our time, or a small number of initiatives (Richard Koch – 80/20 rule).
Over the last few years, I’ve observed a phenomenon within the contrast of my clients- those who get their to-do lists done, and those who don’t (sorry team). This can be broken down even further into those who get the critical tasks on their to-do lists done, and those who don’t. The clients who successfully get their high-value tasks done always outperform the norm. The best strategy in the world means nothing when it’s not implemented.
As humans, we seem to have this knack for always completing the lowest value or easiest tasks first. We also have a tendency for what I can only describe as ‘busybody behaviour’; that is, we are busy all-day doing stuff, but we really aren’t achieving anything. Success doesn’t come from being busy or working harder than necessary, it comes from doing the right things and doing them efficiently.
Have you ever met the person in business who seems to come across an amazing opportunity every two weeks that they simply must chase, yet they have never had any success to date? Not every opportunity is an opportunity and not every opportunity should be taken. Success comes from doing something extremely well and then adding auxiliary products, services, and arms to that over time. If you don’t focus on something for long enough and put in the time and effort to execute it successfully, you won’t find success.
When looking across the industries that the small businesses I work with compete in, I constantly see all the money being made in that industry by whoever is seen as ‘the best’ or ‘the expert’ in that industry. The money follows whoever is at the top of their game, he (or she) who has mastered both their product/service and their marketing, not those who are trying to do the most and outdo others with breadth, not depth.
So, how do we solve this problem of people just not getting the right stuff done?
Know your strategy What are you actually doing, and where are you headed? Know your strategy before spending time on anything. Don’t race off in the wrong direction.
Get the right stuff done What tasks are critical to finding your success? Figure out what the important initiatives are and focus on these. Often these important tasks can be so simple- do you just need to ring someone?
Be efficient I can’t stress this enough. Use your calendar to block out time. If these are your most important tasks why haven’t you put time aside? Why isn’t this stuff in your calendar?
Be proactive, not reactive
Own your calendar, your emails, your time. Schedule emails to only come in at certain times – mine come in at 7.20am, 12.40pm and 4.00pm, this lets me control my day, what tasks I spend the majority of time on and leaves me without that anxious ‘what could be in my inbox’ feeling (boomerang app). Leave the space in your calendar to deal with things and emergencies that pop up. Use apps like Todoist (1-2pp) or Asana (teams) to manage tasks, due dates and categorise things under projects.
Don’t spend your entire day every day fighting fires
the onus is squarely on you if you are; perhaps you don’t quite have the right people in your space, or maybe you haven’t set the correct expectations, or you haven’t set things up properly.
It all sounds so simple but, in reality, not so. Like anything, it takes practice. Start by figuring out your strategy and high-value actions, then begin putting aside some time each week to focus on your critical tasks and initiatives and go from there. No one has ever done worse from focusing on the important stuff in their business.
So, what do you have to lose?
Words: Toss Grumley, Business Advisor at Wolf & Fox