Time Management

A Cure for Emailoholism

I’m addicted to constantly checking my email.  I want to stop, but I can’t.  I think it’s mostly driven by fear.  I’m afraid of missing something important.  I’m afraid of missing out on an opportunity.  I justify my condition by telling myself that I am known for being responsive and available.  Responsiveness is one of my differentiators.  Being available and responsive goes a long way in today’s business world.  My clients and colleagues know that I’m always available and they appreciate it.  However, I take it way too far. Constantly checking email is killing my productivity, increasing my stress level, and preventing me from ever having true downtime.  I can’t live in the moment because I’m constantly thinking about what I’m potentially missing.  A major side effect is that I can’t focus on one activity for more than a few minutes without being distracted.

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Everybody Should Play the Business Owner’s Game, Not Just Owners

There is a game every person at work should be playing every minute of every day, with every decision they make. It’s called The Business Owner’s Game, and is at the core of building a successful business or career. It transforms your relationship to work.

The objective of the Business Owner’s Game is simple: More money in less time.

Successful business leaders play this game all the time to increase their revenue (or income) and reduce the amount of time they have to personally spend increasing it. The smart leaders have everyone at work playing the same game. The objective is to discover the “highest and best use” of everyone’s time, and get them focused on doing those things.

More Money in Less Time

Anybody can make more money in more time; it’s easy—just work more hours. Except you only have 168 hours in a week. So the better idea is to discover how to make more money in less time. A lot of people intend to make more money every year, but how many of them intend to do it in less time?

Why do we all have the first graph, but not the second one? Because we’re stuck in Industrial Age thinking about how money is made, by trading time for money.

A traditional employee thinks that way as well, but shouldn’t. The Industrial Age was wrong. Everyone working in every business should be on a manic pursuit to answer the question, “How do I make more money in less time?” Your business would make more money if all your people thought this way. And if you, as a business owner, want to build a successful business, you can’t afford to succumb to this old Industrial Age habit. Let’s learn the Business Owner’s Game.

The Game: Two Simple Questions

The good news is that the Business Owner’s Game is very simple. There are only two questions:

1. Is this (whatever I’m doing right now) the highest and best use of my time?

The answer to at least seventy-five percent of what we’re doing will be, “No.” Whatever we’re doing is rarely the highest and best use of our time. We just haven’t bothered to get it off our plate (short-term decision-making).

If the answer is no, and it almost always is, then move on to question number two:

2. If this is not the highest and best use of my time, then how do I do it for the last time?

The answer to that question will lead you to freedom.

If you are serious about getting things off your plate, you’ll come up with a number of ways to offload things that don’t belong there. Freedom Mapping is just one common answer to the question. But if you’re afraid, distracted, believe your business is unique (it never is), have a big ego, believe you’re indispensable (you almost never are), or a dozen other excuses, you will find 1,000 ways to not get things off your plate.

Business Owner vs. Income Producer

This is the most important game a business owner and everyone in your business can play. We waste more time and money doing things others should be doing than just about any other way.

If you are playing this game, you are a Business Owner (even if you don’t own the business, you own your destiny). If you aren’t, you are only an Income Producer, the fatal mindset of the “employee” (yes, Business Owners can be employees of themselves!) You may think you own a business, but all you really own is a job.

How Staff Members Should Play The Game

When Krista first came to work with us, we asked her to create a Freedom Map of the processes she ran. A year later we had her go back over this with the two questions in the Business Owner’s Game, to discover the highest and best use of her time. She circled everything in the process that did not qualify, and we hired Lauren who loved doing those things and was great at them. Both of them were firing on all cylinders now. As she gained experienced and the job changed, we had Lauren re-draw her Freedom Maps another year later, and hired Donna to do the things that were not the highest and best use of Lauren’s time. As Donna gains experience we will have her do the same thing.

Don’t Hire For Jobs; Hire For Effectiveness

We never hire someone for “a job”, but instead, we hire them to take over things that aren’t the highest and best use of someone else’s time. Does anyone ever get to 100% ideal use of their time? Of course not, but everyone in our company is always closer to it than they would be working anywhere else. And they all have more freedom and more meaning in their work as a result.

Get Off The Treadmill

What is the highest and best use of your time? How do you the other things for the last time?

Apply the two simple questions in the Business Owner’s Game to everything you do for one month and see what happens. It will transform your business if you are an owner, or your job if you are a Stakeholder. It will begin to give you the answers that allow you to make more money in less time, get off the treadmill and get a life.

One Change That Can Bring Back Time

We’ve likely all heard the story…you know the one…”There was a college professor who once pulled out a large jar and asked his class, after putting some big rock in the jar, is the jar full?” If you haven’t heard it, do a quick search for “The professor and the jar story”.  Steven Covey relays it in his “First Things First” book as well.

I heard the story a long time ago (at least it feels that way), and I remember how it impacted me.  It made so much sense.  I kept trying to shove more in the jar, never really thinking about what my “big rocks” were.  The list I came up with felt pretty reasonable and important – God, family, self and work.  I’ve tried – and failed – and tried again to prioritize these in the order I had determined.

I wonder, though, is there another way to look at this?  What about different kinds of rocks?

I don’t think many would argue with the above four – maybe friends would be there for some, church for others.  Maybe the list would be longer or shorter, with more or less “big rocks”.  What I found, though, was that I couldn’t practically implement my “rocks” (that sounds weird…but I can’t seem to find a better way to say it).  After all, trying to be involved in what God was up to also included being a dad and a husband.  And I was pretty sure He wanted to be around me at work, too.

Could I put different rocks in the jar?

So I’ve tried one – “keep the Sabbath holy”.  For me, that’s Sunday.  Could I really not check e-mail?  Could I really have it just be a day of renewal?  And if I did, how would it force me to move other “rocks” around to make it fit?  So far, it is different around here.

How about you?  What one big rock should you try to put in the jar?  Can you find one that would push the other ones around in a way that gets you where God wants you to go?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  Let us know what “rocks” for you…

TIME—a Strategic Corporate Asset

Thinking  of Time Management, most of us are considering the complex time balancing issues we leaders face with the opportunities/demands from family, church, business, staff,  and many other sources.   Wikipedia--Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectivenessefficiency or productivity. We can learn about Time Management from Dale Carneige.com, Mind Tools.com, Dartmouth College, and hundreds of other expert sources.

Does the electronic/digital age create too many time indicators for us to follow?

Some researchers indicate that meaningful communications and conversations with associates and loved ones are disemboweled with frequent “productive” glances at the inbox; smart phone clock, thus our ability to think is decimated by the distraction of the ping and the ring. We maintain a state of chaotic mental activity that some call psychic entropy. This is the opposite of the optimal psychological state of flow, where attention is allowed to linger, to sink into an activity without distraction.

Andy Stanley has stated--“Direction, not intention determines your destination.” –If we look at this statement from the time management axis— would say that “Schedule management, not distractions , determines successful completion.

Are you focused on corporate time management at this time?

For most enterprises- this is the season of  annual budget/planning.  Businesses are gathering forecasts, planning for marketing/sales activity, developing the annual budget with some consideration given to multi-year expectations.  As this annual plan is developed—are we as careful considering time as a planning variable and asset as we are when considering financial capital.

Does your  performance reporting and variance analysis deal primarily with financial measures or does it also focus attention on corporate and individual time management issues?

Procrastination and poor time management: is one of the leading reasons small businesses fail--Putting off tasks that you don’t enjoy will sink your business faster than anything else. You can’t afford to waste time on unimportant tasks while critical tasks pile up. All tasks need to be done; if you don’t like to do them (or don’t want to spend your time doing them), hire someone to do them for you. If your time management and prioritizing skills are rusty, hire a small business coach or take a class to help you. - See more at: http://www.passionforbusiness.com/articles/why-businesses-fail.htm#sthash.LSZvoq3L.dpuf

Time management is a booming business—everyone wants to get more done and control time wasters. But for Christian business leaders the need to manage time is even more urgent.  We are Stewards of the Business God has given us.  Poor time management in our business is a waste of God’s resources.  Be sure your annual business plan gives significant focus to TIME as a critical investment asset.  Consider Time KPI’s on your management dashboard.

It has been stated—“No CEO/Owner can let the business run out of Cash”—Likewise, no CEO/Owner should let the business run out of Time”

“Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).