By Raj Jan
Photo: Getty Images. Illustration: Chloe Krammel
Stop doing things that offer the lowest return on time investment.
Time is a constant that cannot be changed.
It is the only commodity no one can give or take away. We all have the same amount of it, and no matter what, while you live, it is always there. When you are running multiple businesses, how you use your time can be the single deciding factor on whether you succeed or struggle.
My entire mindset around time shifted when I realized, I could still get a theoretical “A” on my business if I hired someone to execute tasks at 90 percent capacity, versus me doing it all at 100 percent. I knew I needed to maximize my time as much as possible without compromising the value I wanted in my business.
In order to become highly productive, I worked through a process to unveil how to truly maximize my time and still get the results I wanted. Here are three steps I took to become highly productive without wasting any time.
1. Become aware of what you are doing every day.
You will be surprised where your time goes when you actually start to track it. You must begin to realize that, even if you are salaried, everyone has a quantifiable hourly wage. Shift your mindset to look at each hour of the day, in and out of the office, as though it is that value.
I began a weekly process with my assistant where I took note of everything that I did in an Excel file. This included everything from taking out the trash to buying groceries, having meetings, or traveling for a keynote. Every minute of the day was tracked. At the end of the week, she would send me an analysis of what I had spent the most time on.
This may sound extreme, but spending a few minutes each day punching in time markers is well worth it to discover what is consuming your time, versus where you should be spending it.
2. Categorize your time correctly.
Actions can be broken down into four categories: incompetent, competent, excellent, and unique:
- Incompetent: Things you cannot and should not do. For me, this is graphic design. I have no natural skill in it, nor a deep interest in growing it. Spending hours designing a logo or building a product pamphlet is not where my time should be spent.
- Competent: The tasks you can do, but so can pretty much anyone else. For me, this looked like scheduling people on my podcast or fielding customer inquiries.
- Excellent: Tasks you do very well, but if outsourced appropriately, could be done by someone else. I am great at building businesses, running finances, and trending markets, but I can also hire someone else to do them, like a CFO or CMO.
- Unique: The actions only you can do. For me, it is generating compelling ideas to be shared through words, both spoken and written.
Take the timesheet you have, and based on these four categories, review where the majority of your hours are spent. The goal is to move over time to a point where the majority of your day is spent in the unique category, doing things only you can do. If you are living day-in and day-out doing incompetent or competent tasks, you need to shift the focus of where your time lies.
3. Delegate as much as possible.
In order to grow, you must delegate. Find the things that take up the most time and offer the lowest return on time investment and offload them. In the beginning, this could be small things, like outsourcing the daily tasks of home and health maintenance such as grocery shopping or cleaning. I began by hiring a virtual assistant from the Philippines to complete simple tasks such as checking emails and supporting customers’ feedback.
This not only opens your time to work on the excellent and unique functions of your business, but also builds the trust muscle you will need as your business grows. In order to delegate, you must have a sense of trust that the people you pass things off to will be able to provide the “A” results you want in your business.
Don’t let time control you; control it by managing and delegating. Your business will thank you for it.
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