Stop to Succeed Tools and Resources
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To make your business more successful what should you STOP DOING?
Time is one of your most precious resources. Once spent, you can never get it back. It’s the one thing that, as a business leader, I suspect you always want more of.
How often do you say in your personal and business life, ‘I will do that when I have more time’, ‘let’s look at this when we have more time’, ‘I could have done this if I had, had more time’ or simply ‘I wish I had the time to do this’.
The truth is, you DO have the time because you are in control of your time – all of it. How you manage your time, what you do with your time, how you spend your time – it’s all down to you!
The reality is that all of us waste time. Vast chunks of it are spent doing nothing of importance.
So how do you change this? Especially in your business, how do you make your life and that of your team immeasurably easier by taking control of your time?
Take a moment to pause and ask yourself this one question:
What can we stop doing to allow us to be more effective and to focus on the critical tasks that deliver the greatest results for our business?
STOP taking time for granted. You’ll never get it back. Stop accepting the status quo and simply continuing to do what you’ve always done.
START working out which activities generate little or no gain and devise a way to stop doing them.
The one ‘BREAKTHROUGH QUESTION’ you must ask to help yourself…
What can we stop doing to allow us to be more effective and to focus on the critical tasks that deliver the greatest results for our business?
This question is important – it jumps right in at the deep end with a crucial point.
When it comes to the time at your disposal, in order to focus on the things that matter, you have to STOP doing things that do not.
This sounds obvious as we cannot create more time. The working day is typically 8 hours long – that’s 480 minutes. So, ask yourself another question:
“How effectively are you using your 480 minutes (8 hours) of every working day?”
Any of us, including you and your team, would benefit from improving their time management skills. It definitely beats wasting time on things that don’t matter and having to work under pressure to meet deadlines.
Remember, if you don’t spend your time focusing on the things that matter, then opportunities, efficiencies and maintaining the right work/life balance slips away from you, almost without you realising it.
So having a reset and reminder of the importance of your time and how to use it wisely is not a bad business decision.
Time is not finite – how much do you have left?
Time is not like money – once it’s spent, you can never get it back.
How often do you get to Friday morning and think… I don’t know where this week has gone.
More importantly, how often do you get to Friday morning and feel frustrated with how you have spent the time available to you during the week?
How often do you achieve the things you plan with the time you have?
How often have you spent time on things that don’t matter, rather than focusing on the things that do?
If you had to look back at what you spent your time doing during this week, how much of it did you waste?
Peter Drucker, author of The Essential Drucker, would tell you that, on average, most people in business waste 25% of their time doing things that do not matter.
In a 5-day week, that’s more than a whole day!
So, given that time is a finite resource, you best use it or invest it wisely, don’t you think?
Here is the raw data when it comes to time:
- There are 1,440 minutes in a day – this is 24 hours.
- There are 168 hours in a week.
- There are 8,760 hours in a year.
- In an 80-year life span there are 700,800 hours.
- People don’t remember much of their first 10 years, then you are at school for 10 years.
- This leaves 525,600 hours of conscious time.
- Of these 525,600 hours of conscious time, you spend approximately 174,720 of them asleep.
- Leaving you with 350,880 hours of conscious, productive time to work, rest and enjoy the rest of your life and, depending on your age, you are already well into this…
- That does not sound like a lot when you put it like that, does it?
- Time is a FINITE resource.
Remember, time is precious, so it really matters what you do with it. Most people work 8 hours a day, and then there is eating, washing, cleaning, laundry, shopping, children, holidays, exercise – the list goes on and on.
To ensure you have time to do the things that make you happy, to be able to spend more time with family and friends and more time doing the things that really matter, shouldn’t you be using your work time more effectively?
The simple problems of time management
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to improve the way in which you spend the time you have, here are a few of the things that can prevent you from maximising your time. We will refer to them again, but they are good to know:
- Poor planning – Sounds obvious, but without a plan or a strategy how can you really know what you are doing or why you are doing it? How can you manage the budget, priorities or deadlines?
- Interruptions/distractions – This is probably the biggest factor when it comes to wasted time – social media, emails, phone calls, other people in the office – all of these things break concentration, focused time, rhythm and routine. Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, reveals that ‘in a study on the effects of interruptions, people who were stoned scored 6 points higher on an IQ test than people who were interrupted by emails and their phone.’
- Not having clear goals/focusing on the wrong things – If your team is not focusing on the things that matter to your business and are wasting time on unimportant tasks, they will often expand this work to fill time. Clear business goals and understanding business-critical tasks will ensure that time is not spent on things that don’t matter.
- Multi-tasking – Multi-tasking is a myth. Psychological studies have shown that multi-tasking does not save time; in fact, the opposite is true. You can only focus properly on one job at a time. You lose time when you are constantly switching from one task to another, resulting in a loss of productivity, concentration and focus.
- Overworking/being overwhelmed – This is a common problem in most workplaces. I am sure your team has stated at times that they have too much to do and feel overworked. But in most cases where people feel this way, they actually spend a lot of time panicking about what they have to do, rather than just doing it, and this can lead to mistakes, burnout, poor health and demotivation, all of which consumes more time.
- Time estimation – Sometimes, if things are urgent, you underestimate the time a job might require, simply because you need it sooner than is reasonable to achieve. In this case, you have failed before you have even started and have created undue pressure for the team. Teams that work under unnecessary pressure do not use their time well or produce their best work.
- Not taking breaks – Regular breaks are essential if your team are to produce their best work. Care and attention need to be given to time for yourself and for the individual members of your team, away from the work. Scheduling time to relax and rejuvenate physically and mentally means people feel refreshed when at work, and tasks are accomplished more quickly and easily.
- Not delegating – I am sure you have been guilty of this in your business – there is a temptation, if a job needs doing, to do it yourself. This results in your having less time, when there are people who could (if properly trained) do the job as well, if not better, than you.
- Not saying NO – If you say yes to everything, you will achieve nothing. It’s okay to say NO – especially if you say it with grace. In her role as First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt was constantly asked to support events, functions, charities and much more. Over time, she developed a way to say no with grace. It sounded something like this: Thank you for asking. It means a lot to me that you’ve asked. It’s just that I am already committed and I have to say no. I’m sorry.
- Status quo (not the band) – Staying the same will lead to irrelevance and ruin for your business – you must adjust and move with the ever-changing environment around you, adapting to customer demands, new technology, government legislation or whatever it may be. These things are crucial for the survival of your business, and some of these things will bring efficiency to your business, enabling you to save time in some areas so that you can focus on important tasks.
Remember, time management is not an exact science, but if you don’t start to manage the way the priorities of your business are handled, your business is at risk. Try it, and evaluate, re-assess and readjust if necessary, but keep going.
Know your time – Peter Drucker style…
Peter Drucker is an influential business leader and award-winning author and is eminently knowledgeable on the importance of time management to a successful business.
‘Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective. This is not capable of being measured by any of the yardsticks for manual work.’ – Peter Drucker, The Essential Drucker
Drucker talks about optimising your time and the importance of being EFFECTIVE.
Effectiveness is about choosing the right things, the important, goal-focused things, in which to invest your time.
Choosing WHAT you do matters more than HOW you do it, according to Drucker.
He also believes that choosing what NOT to do matters even more.
Drucker calls this PLANNED ABANDONMENT.
This means ‘abandoning the behaviours and activities that derail you and lead to activities that are a waste of time and effort and are not good for your business.’
Here are the 3 things that Peter Drucker believes you need to do to optimise your time:
- 1TRACK – Don’t just plan your time, TRACK your time. Where is your time currently being spent? You will find that once you start tracking your own and your team’s time, your productivity will go up and you will do more. Measurement improves performance
- 2MANAGE - Eliminate and delegate. Eliminate the stuff that is not working or simply does not need doing at all. Drucker believes that making a ‘stop doing’ list is crucial when it comes to successfully managing your time. It’s a difficult task, but for your business to improve and allow you to focus on important priorities, you must stop doing other things. Delegate tasks that can be done by someone else, once trained. Elimination and delegation, in Drucker’s eyes, can result in major improvements in effectiveness.
- 3CONSOLIDATE – Make time, don’t waste time. Make use of the time you have freed up by eliminating and delegating. These need to be real chunks of time in which to focus on your business priorities. Drucker is not talking about 90 minutes here and there – he is talking about half days, full days, sometimes even 2 weeks of consolidated, distraction- and interruption-free time to focus on the business-critical tasks.
The 80/20 Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. In other words, a small percentage of causes have an outsized effect.
This concept is especially important when it comes to analysing how time is spent in your business, as it is likely that 80% of your profits and results come from 20% of your time and effort.
The principle is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who, back in 1895, noticed that 80% of his garden peas came from 20% of the peapods he planted. He also discovered that about 80% of Italy’s land belonged to 20% of the country’s population.
Here are examples of the 80/20 rule from various fields (https://resumelab.com):
- 80% of car accidents are caused by 20% of young people
- 80% of lottery tickets are bought by 20% of society
- 80% of air pollution is caused by 20% of the population
- 80% of all firearms are used by 20% of the population
- 80% of all internet traffic belongs to 20% of websites
- 80% of car crashes happen within the first 20% of the distance covered
- 80% of mobile phone calls come from 20% of the population
- 80% of the time people use 20% of the tools at their disposal
- 80% of the world’s wealth sits with 20% of the world’s population
Sometimes this divide is even more dramatic. For example, according to this report from Visualcapalist.com:
- 85.6% of the world’s wealth sits with just 8.6% of the global population
- And, at the other extreme:
- 70.1% of the population have only 2.7% of the world’s wealth between them
To bring it back to your business, it is likely that:
- 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products, services and customers
- 80% of your results come from 20% of your time and effort.
This basically means that you are wasting 80% of your time on just 20% of your customers, profits and results.
When you identify this in your business, the importance of focusing on the things that deliver maximum return seems obvious.
Start incorporating Pareto’s principle into the time management strategy for your business and maximise the efficiency of your team by limiting the amount of time you spend on the things that deliver very little.
N.B – The importance of the 80/20 principle for allowing you to see and radically adjust how the time in your business is spent cannot be underestimated. It’s so crucial to the future of your business that a whole Business Breakthrough edition has been devoted to this subject.
If you would like a copy of this edition, please contact a member of the team or access our Business Breakthrough library page, click on the ‘Build a Better Team’ Category and look for this report.
Are you wasting 80% of your working week making just 20% of your profits?
Tim Ferriss – Manage your time, don’t let it manage you…
In his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss talks about the life-changing effect that successfully managing his time has had on him.
It has not been easy, and he has made mistakes along the way, but it has changed his life.
‘You need to unplug and reset, everyone suffers from information abuse and addiction, you invite interruption. Time management is dead, you need to take a step back, forget about what is expected or popular, look at what works and what is consuming your time. The goal is to decrease the amount of work you perform while increasing your revenue.
Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals and outside your influence. I challenge you to look at whatever you have read or watched today and tell me that it wasn’t at least two of the four.’ – Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Work Week
Here are the 4 steps that Tim suggests will enable you to take back control of your time. Put aside some distraction-free time with your team and go through these points:
- Define your ideal lifestyle.
- What do you WANT to be doing from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep?
- What do you want to BE, HAVE, DO?
- How much does that ideal lifestyle cost?
This is your target!
- Get rid of all the static, noise and interruptions.
- Get rid of all the micro-managing and stop allowing people to get in the way of your ideal lifestyle.
- Take the few remaining time-consuming tasks that are preventing you from achieving your ideal lifestyle and delegate, automate or outsource them.
4. LIBERATION – this is the difficult part!
- Stay mobile and agile.
- Make sure you use your free time wisely once you have created it, and focus on more of those business-critical tasks that take up 20% of your time but deliver 80% of your profits.
As Tim Ferriss states, ‘It’s not a question of IF you should do this but WHEN.’
Here is a checklist of some of the things that Tim suggests you can do to help keep time from influencing you and which will allow you to influence time. You can start by eliminating counterproductive habits step by step, perhaps implementing one action per week in your business, and, eventually, you’ll reclaim impressive amounts of time and energy and be able to see the difference they make:
1. Do not answer unrecognised calls – Firstly, the interruption breaks concentration and uses brain power, and second, if you don’t know who the person is, then it’s not likely to be a key customer or supplier, so they can leave a message.
2. Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night – The first can mess with your priorities for the day and the latter means you are not switching off.
3. Do not agree to meetings without a clear agenda or end time – Ask what your role is in advance of the meeting so that you can prepare and ensure the ‘meeting decision’ is tabled at the start. Meetings are about decisions and follow-up actions.
4. Do not allow people to ramble – Sounds harsh, but this is crucial, as ‘small talk takes up big time.’ Instead, cut them off by saying ‘I am in the middle of something, what’s up?’ Be aware that this could be a sensitive issue if someone wants to discuss something personal, so it pays to be mindful of the subject matter first.
5. Stop checking email all the time – Schedule batch checks, and put these times on an auto-responder email so people know when you will be looking at emails.
6. Use the 80/20 rule – Do not spend time on the 80% of customers that deliver 20% of your profits. Actively look to reduce the number of customers in this group, and work with more of the 20% of customers that deliver 80% of your profits.
7. Focus on your business-critical tasks – Sit down with your team and decide on one or two (no more) urgent business tasks that need to get done and, as a team, decide how to manage the time to achieve them. When they are done, do the same for the next couple of tasks.
8. One day a week, encourage everyone on your team to put their phones in the desk drawer all day! – This is a hard one, but it’s usually habit that makes you look at it, not necessity.
9. Change your work environment - Escape the office 9-5 – just because you work 8 hours a day, it does not mean you have to do this in the office from 9-5, all day, every day. Block off time for a walk, lunch with a friend or just time to sit and read a book. Work in a café one day, for a change of scenery.
Try these with your team, make the results visual and see how each team member gets on. Remember, start with one action a week and see the difference they make to the finite amount of time you and your team have.
NB. You could perhaps reward your team with lunch, in the free time you have created. 😊
Delegation, not abdication
When it comes to finding more time to focus on the things that matter in your business, you will often hear the word DELEGATION mentioned.
Delegation is not simply the process of handing over all the stuff you don’t want to do – it is about training and developing your team, allowing for after-action review and accountability as part of the process. Simply handing tasks over with little or no explanation, seeing if the person will sink or swim, will generally mean that they will sink.
Delegation takes time and should really be understood as mentoring.
There is a Business Breakthrough report written on this subject. If you would like a copy of this edition, please contact a member of our team or access our Business Breakthrough library page and click on the ‘Build a Better Team’ category and look for this report. There are some great stories in this edition about a training event and about the value of a wedding dress.
How to liberate the people potential in your business by unleashing the power of initiative
Here is the delegation ladder to show you how simple this process can be when done right.
The book and other resources
The Essential Drucker - The Best of Sixty years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Management.
Peter F. Drucker
Father of modern management, social commentator and preeminent business philosopher, Peter F. Drucker has analysed economics and society for more than sixty years. For readers everywhere who are concerned with the ways that management practices and principles affect the performance of organizations, individuals, and society, there is now The Essential Drucker – an invaluable compilation of essential materials from the works of a management legend.
Containing twenty-six core selections, The Essential Drucker covers the basic principles and concerns of management and its problems, challenges and opportunities, giving managers, executives and professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the economy and society will demand of them.
What people are saying about this book:
"Evergreen lessons from one of the most influential management thinkers of the 21st century.”
– Harvard Business Review
“Every manager’s advisor. For me, it’s not a book that you start at the first page and finish at the last page after some time. It’s a book that you always come back to find advice, solution or inspiration about people and business management.”
– Josh Taylor, Entrepreneur
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan – there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.
What people are saying about this book:
“It's about time this book was written. It is a long-overdue manifesto for the mobile lifestyle, and Tim Ferriss is the ideal ambassador. This will be huge.” ― Jack Canfield, co-creator, Chicken Soup for the Soul
“The book that has caught the imagination of overworked America.” ― Sunday Telegraph
“This is a whole new ball game. Highly recommended.” – Dr Stewart D. Friedman, Adviser to Jack Welch and Former Vice President Al Gore on Work/Family Issues, Director of the Work/Life Integration Project, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
“Stunning and amazing. From mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it's all here. Whether you're a wage slave or a Fortune 500 CEO, this book will change your life!” – Phil Town, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
This video helps explain some of Peter Drucker’s writing, which, although in some parts written many years ago, still stands the test of time. This video is about effectiveness. It focuses on a few key business areas, including time management, which starts at 2.10 minutes into the video and is well worth a listen.
In this video Tim Ferriss shares some brilliant productivity tips and the importance of having a Gratitude Day! Here are 2 key takeaways:
1. Productivity Question: What task, if accomplished, will make my day a win?
2. Task Selection: Choose high-value tasks.
Here is Tim Ferriss on how he manages his time, along with his 5 secrets to successfully managing his time.
Tim Ferriss is an interesting man, author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books and host of a podcast that has exceeded 200 million downloads.If you want to know more about him, here is a link to his website, here is the link to his podcast.
Here are some other articles and videos that you will definitely find useful to help you eliminate or stop doing things that no longer matter to your business.
1. Check out this great article by Peter Drucker, who offers a simple question to help you identify and eliminate from your business those things that no longer serve you.
2. Here is simple-to-read article outlining 7 easy ways to improve your time management skills.
3. As you search for resolutions and ideas to grow and strengthen in your leadership role in the months ahead, here is an article of seven things I suspect Drucker would encourage you to stop.
Peter Drucker once offered: “We spend a lot of time teaching our leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching them what to stop.”
4. Marshall Goldsmith spent 10 years as a board member of the Peter Drucker Foundation.
In Goldsmith’s words: “One of the greatest lessons he taught me is this: ‘We spend a lot of time helping leaders learn what to do. We do not spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop’. Half of the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”
This article by Marshall Goldsmith, 20 Behaviors Even the Most Successful People Need to Stop, draws on a lot of the lessons about life and leadership learned from Peter Ducker. It’s a great read.
5. I am saving the best for last. This video is brilliant! It was created by Brian Tracy and is called Time Management Strategies That Will Change Your Life.
Brian is a motivational speaker and award-winning author, and this video is full of fantastic insights and practical steps you can implement in your business to improve the way you think about time.
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