Illustration depicting the concept of leveraging how you spend your time

This Question Will Revolutionize How You Spend Your Time at Work [Updated]

To be successful in your business you need to spend your time working ON it, not just IN it…

Business owners are spending considerably more time than they want to just to keep the wheels turning. In fact a recent study shows entrepreneurs spend just a hare over 30% of their time working ON their business.

That is, the type of strategic activities that spur growth, bring about innovation and strengthen culture (not to mention boost morale).

But here’s the kicker: They don’t even want to be doing these things, so what’s holding them back?

The ultimate problem for most business owners is that they can’t seem to jump off the hamster wheel and create the conditions that lead to success because they are overly engaged in the day-to-day tasks of the business.

So how do you change how you spend your time, while continuing to meet the competing obligations of running a business?

How to fix the time problem

The answer is all about leverage. To fix the time problem, you need to make sure you are spending your time on things that are both urgent and important to your business.

Here’s an example from a client of ours:

When Clive wanted more time to be able to work on growing his business what he was really looking for was better leverage. That is ‘get more growth with less of his time invested’. He was currently under leveraged from a time perspective. I asked him this one question …

“What activities do you do now that take up more than 10% of your time that could be done by someone else?”

It took him less than 5 seconds to say “scheduling”.

Next question …

“What would have to happen to get scheduling off your plate?”

In the 5 minutes following that question, Clive had laid out a 5-step plan that was going to free up approximately 15 hours per week.

In reality, it took about 6 weeks to get 80% of the bugs ironed out of the delegation process and get others up to speed with training. The payoff – aside from the extra initial 15 hours he gained, was a new mode of thinking that has allowed Clive to free up even more time by asking himself similar pattern breaking questions in other areas of the business.

Utilizing the 80/20 Rule

And so it goes; the well-known, and largely underutilized, principle called the 80/20 rule or Pareto’s Principle is one most of us probably should revisit. In this context the rule states:

80% of your results come from 20% of your activities.

The question is “how much of your time is spent on those 80% activities”. From what I’ve seen through business coaching clients in Australia, Canada and the USA, it is usually not enough.

And despite my awareness of it, and my coaching to the contrary, I still catch myself doing things someone else can be doing at the expense of time invested in higher value activities from time to time.

Perfection in this avenue requires constant practice and knowing the right things to focus on.

Ask the Right Questions

To implement 80/20 thinking relative to your own time ask yourself this question …

If I could only spend 20 hours per week at work and my business had to achieve the goals I have in place, how would I do it?

This key question will revolutionize how you spend your time

Add the Right Strategy to How You Spend Your Time

While this question forces you into a new mode of thinking, don’t expect the heavens to open on the first attempt at answering this question.

The next step in the process is to ensure it is written down, and you are holding yourself accountable to the results. For this, we recommend our free 90-Day Planning toolkit

If you stick with this question for 90-days and each day write down the answers that come to your mind, you’ll be amazed at the options available to you.

Finally, give yourself permission to try again. Changing how you spend your time can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you view yourself as being the best person for all the administrative and technical tasks that need doing, but 90-days of focus is one way to make a business-changing impact in a reasonably short period of time.

Now #JumpOffTheWheel and get going 🙂

This post was originally published on 8 Nov 2012 on the Sales Up Business Coaching Blog but has been updated to reflect new information

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