Wondering why you are working so hard and have so little to show for it? Could the way you are prioritizing time & money have something to do with it?
Are you just working hard, or are you working smart?
If we were to sit down and discuss where your business is at right now, what artifacts would you use to “show me” what you have been doing, what results that has created and where you (or the artifacts) thought you should be improving?
My experience in working with, guiding and mentoring owners of small to medium sized businesses has shown me how incredibly busy most of us are and how very “hard working” most of us are. Failure or lack of satisfactory results was very rarely caused by laziness or lack of working hard enough. In fact it was quite often the opposite; that we were working ourselves to a certain burnout and could no longer “see the wood for the trees”.
But were or are we achieving the desired business profitability, income and lifestyle results? In most cases we reported disappointing results, certainly compared to our expectations.
Business owner or employee – do you feel the same way?
If you are the owner of such a business I can sense you nodding your head right now as you read this, right? Why? Because you are either in that very or similar situation right now or you can still remember a time when you were, correct? I don’t think any small business start-up can bypass this or similar situations.
However, perhaps even if you are employed and working for a boss or a company in a structure, could you be feeling that despite you working so very hard that you (or your boss) aren’t happy with the results you are achieving? This phenomenon isn’t just limited to small business, is it?
How efficient are you at being effective?
This is where I usually introduce or remind of the wordplay between effective and efficient:
• Efficient is doing things right (but are they the right things to be doing?)
• Effective is doing the right things (whether efficiently or not)
Big difference, isn’t there? You can be working as hard and as efficiently as you like, but if you aren’t doing the right things, you are on a treadmill and often on a hiding into nothing; you certainly aren’t being effective.
Want to be Prioritizing Time & Money? Capture it and write it down!
Would you like to know how you can prioritize your ability to do the right things right?
Truth is that in my coaching work I have helped many a client through these thresholds, whether they were business owners of employees. How? Well this option I’m about to share with you isn’t rocket science, but it is extremely effective.
Over a period of time, I get them to capture how much time they spend on everything that they do all day and every day. EVERYTHING. If a task takes more than say 5 or 10 minutes, I have them record the actual time spent that. If there are say 5 or 10 repetitive tasks that each take a couple minutes (for example making cold calls), then the overall time spent on that task is captured.
Most people carry a smartphone with a “notes” function around with them permanently, right? That makes it very easy to capture all tasks quickly, effortlessly and easily at different times during the day or as you finish them. And if you prefer a paper notebook, that’s also cool. Stationers (even supermarkets) sell little ring-bound notebooks that fit into a purse or shirt pocket and that can be used in just the same manner as the smartphone. It doesn’t matter what you use. It matters that you capture what you spend your time on for EVERYTHING that you do.
My recommendation is that this should span at least a week, preferably 2 weeks, and if you can a month, depending on the nature and volume of different tasks your current role or business entails or necessitates. 2 week is usually sufficient to give a suitably good breadth and depth of insight to provide a solid picture of “what is going on” and what you are spending your time on.
My clients learn that all the different tasks and times spent on them are transcribed onto a spreadsheet at the end of each day. After the first couple days you will start to see the repetitive tasks which will make capturing and transcribing even easier.
At the end of each week it is important to summarize and extract the “big picture” activity entities you are spending most of your time on, but also be sure to highlight all “the little stuff” that always adds up to quite some consumption of your time. Why?
Well, because perhaps many of these lesser tasks might not have to be done by yourself. Perhaps they can be “outsourced” or delegated to someone else, leaving you to devote your time to being efficient as well as effective on the tasks you do best and those which carry the biggest “bang for their buck”.
In New Business Start-up Thresholds I speak in more depth about how small business can either engage casuals or contract specialists or generalists to help carry out tasks either to get “over a hump” or project work or else take certain tasks off your hands.
That way they can do these while you concentrate your time on what matters most or more to you and your business. These resources can be engaged without the long term liabilities attached to employment. Often these people were looking for just such flexibility of casual activities when they suited them and also not wanting to be working full time. Everybody wins.
Well the biggest impediment to this solution I have found to be the business owner not wanting to “let go” and believing that someone else could actually be doing this for them. That is a pain barrier that needs to be crossed. This is often where the threshold of the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of making the required changes and off we go.
Want to be Prioritizing Time & Money? Capture it and write it down!
So now that we know where your time is being spent and we have been able to channel that into the right areas that give you the best value for your available time, should we not be asking the same questions about where your money is going?
I have coached many a client through a similar process, whereby they capture in minute detail every expense that they incur, again over a period of one, two or more weeks. It has been nothing short of remarkable what each and every client undergoing this exercise claimed this to have been worth to them afterwards. For the first time for many, it literally stared them in the face where all their money was going. Whilst they probably had an inkling, most were actually shocked what amounts of money were repeatedly being squandered on unimportant items. When they saw the evidence accumulated before them, many couldn’t believe the extent of what they were seeing.
One of my clients actually saved an additional $40,000 in one year in order to reduce debt on a mortgage so as to be able to finance another investment property. They were astounded with the “ease” at which they were able to do so after this exercise.
So why not you?
If I asked you whether these two activities might help you to find some clarity of what you are spending your time and your money on, what might you say? Perhaps that you are “too busy”? Or maybe that you’d be embarrassed by what you found? Or could it be that you can readily imagine the extent of the opportunity both exercises might present to you?
What have you got to lose? When are you going to start? And what goals or targets do you think this might invoke you to set and chase down? You know, perhaps some that you know you have been missing out on for a long time now?
What do you think you might be missing out on by ignoring this? Or conversely, what outcomes could this achieve for you? What do you think you might be able to save? Or improve? Or grow? And what might you want to do with those savings or that income growth? What doors might that open for you? Liberating thoughts, aren’t they?
And if you are wondering or unsure whether and how you can actually go through with this, why not engage a coach to guide you through it and hold you accountable to achieving those results that really matter to you?
What if you could?
David Grieve says
Most business owners (and most people) work on what they are comfortable with – it’s their comfort zone, that’s why they spend time in the business rather than on the business. By measuring what they are doing is often too confronting – so it is easier to be in denial and do what you like not what you should be doing.
One thing that was not touched on was time v money. Many people spend all their time making money and don’t have the time to enjoy their families and friends and use their wealth for a constructive purpose (e.g. putting back into the community, whether it be the local or world community). As Winston Churchill said: “we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”
Heiner Karst says
You are spot on with your observation in your first point David, thanx. This where the coach comes to the fore in terms of pushing the point and then holding the client accountable to what is perhaps uncomfortable, but desirable nonetheless…
I avoided the time vs money angle as this is so very often and also very well covered elsewhere