This is the first of my monthly posts for Dynamic Business magazine…
A strong culture creates time in your day.
Lack of time is the biggest problem facing most small business owners. Why? Because their entire business resolves around them. I was exactly the same, but I found a solution. Creating a strong family culture has changed my life.
As the founder of a small business, I have a huge amount of ambition, drive and curiosity to create something special. In the early days, my ambition caused some big problems. Fortunately my curiosity and drive also saved me.
From 2004 to 2008, I grew a business from start-up to a small team of 20 people that was profitable, sustainable and even won a few awards. But I was stuck. I had built myself a job and the entire business relied on me. I needed a way out.
NB - Culture is Everything TV will return next Tuesday
What happens when a job needs to be finished by 5pm Friday? It gets done on Friday. Even if it came in on Monday!
What about if that same job needed to be finished by Wednesday at 5pm? It gets done on Wednesday! ”I’ll get it done by Wednesday” is nearly always code for “I’ll do it on Wednesday”.
The no. 1 way to get more done on time is to stop saying “it will be done by …”, and decide exactly “when” it will get done.
For example, if I need to review a new document, I don’t say “I’ll get that done by Friday”, I make a decision that “I’ll do it from 2-3pm Tuesday”. Then I lock it in my calendar. On Tuesday at 2pm I review the document and finish the whole task much sooner.
The result? A 1-hour task is finished and off my list of priorities much faster. In fact, I barely had to think about it. I made an appointment in my calendar (just like any other meeting) and kept myself accountable.
The same can apply to your team mates, suppliers, even clients. Instead of asking “When will you get back to me?”, start asking “When will you do that?”. And if they say “I’ll get it done by Friday”, consider asking if it can be done sooner.
Keeping yourself and others accountable by asking “when” it will be done is one of the most effective ways to get more things done on time. Give it a try.
‘Time management’ is a misnomer. I can’t ‘manage’ time. No one can. Time passes whether I like it or not. What I’ve discovered is that ‘self management’ is the key to getting more done. And one of the best systems I’ve come across to manage myself is The Entrepreneurial Time System.
The Entrepreneurial Time System (TETS) was created by Dan Sullivan about 10 years ago and applies to both work & personal time. TETS relies on all seven days of the week being allocated as either Free, Focus or Buffer days.
- Free Days - 24 hour periods that involve absolutely NO work. These days are for spending time with your family, exercising, having fun & recharging the batteries.
- Focus Days - 24 hour periods where at least 80% of time is spent on activities that add value to your business.
- Buffer Days - 24 hour periods that are for returning calls, catching up and preparing for focus days.
Sullivan recommends that free, focus and buffer days are used in a ratio of 3:3:1. This means a 3-day weekend every week - sweet!
I’ve started using TETS with 2 free days, 3 focus days and 2 buffer days each week. If I’m disciplined enough I’ll be working towards the 3:3:1 approach and may even make it to 4:2:1 in the future if I can really nail it.
Self management is the key to getting more done and in my experience, the simpler the system, the more likely it is to stick.
PS - if you’d like to know more about TETS - click here
PPS - My free days for the time being are every Saturday & Sunday. Free days mean no work, so I’ll be doing plenty of ironman training, but not blogging. From this week, these posts will appear Mon-Fri..
In the past fifty years there have been three major ways that people in business communicate in writing:
1. Post. Delivered once per day & sorted by someone in the office.
2. Fax. Delivered throughout the day & sorted by someone in the office.
3. Email. Delivered throughout the day & sorted by the recipient.
Can you see why email now takes up so much time in every day? The mail we receive is no longer sorted by someone whose job it is to sort the mail. Instead, the person whose job it is to run the company is sorting the mail!
Do you think John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford or even Richard Branson sorted their mail? Of course not! They were too busy running their companies.
No office ever had personal fax machines on every desk that were checked and read every 5 minutes. Email is the new fax. Email is not important! Running your business is…
Answer: Go on a short holiday!
Seriously, if you are a Manager/CEO/Business Owner with people reporting to you, going on holiday is a fantastic way to create ongoing time in your diary (even after you get back!). Here’s how I do it…
It’s well documented that people work much more productively in the days prior to going on leave. But that hurried approach rarely gets even all of your own tasks done let alone allowing time to train others. This plan will take much longer - at least 2 to 3 weeks. It will, however, be some of the most effective hours you ever spend in growing the people around you. So get organised and prepare well in advance by thinking in thirds:
- 33.3% of your normal job will be done before you leave (prep)
- 33.3% of your normal job will be done while you’re away (training / delegation required)
- 33.3% of your normal job will be done when you get back (catch-up)
The 33.3% critical tasks that need to be done while you are away are the key to this plan. These important tasks that can’t wait till you come back, are going to permanently handed over to someone else.
These tasks need to be documented and delegated very carefully. Do this properly. Document what needs to be done and why. Then select the best person to complete these tasks and take the time to train them. Don’t rush it. Be patient and stay close so you can catch them doing your critical tasks well. Provide as much positive and constructive feedback as you can until the new skills have been mastered.
And once these tasks have been mastered by someone else, what’s happened? You’ve just done yourself out of 33.3% of your job. Perfect! Now go on your holiday, let the guys at the office run the place like it’s theirs (tell them you trust them to do just this) then come back to much more time in your diary…
Are you attached to your email account? Do you HAVE to check it every 10 minutes? Why?
Email can be helpful. It’s a cool way to transfer photos, files and ideas at work and at home. But it’s not as important as you might think.
In an emergency, would you email for an ambulance? I doubt it.
If you emailed something important and didn’t get a response, would you call to follow up? Probably. Then why not call in the first place? Why bother typing an email, waiting a day or two for a response and then calling anyway?
Email less, talk more. You’ll get heaps done in less time.
PS - I now only receive about half a dozen emails a week. If you want to know how, give me a call.