How to Find More Time for the Things That Matter
Creating your ideal day starts by discovering what you do best.
If you could describe your ideal business day to me, what would you tell me about it? How would you spend your all-too-scarce time? What does a well-done day feel like?
Take a few minutes right now — lean back and allow yourself to imagine that perfect day.
Time’s up. Now, back to reality.
We all have too many days that enthusiastically start with a well-intentioned to do list, and end with barely a checkmark. But this email isn’t about to-do lists — although I can’t imagine a day without at least a few of them. Instead, we’re going to backtrack to the place where lists begin.
Let’s start with a fun Where on Earth Did My Day Go exercise. The purpose of this discovery is to help you —
- regain control of your valuable time,
- contribute more of the expertise your clients and company want from you and,
- create more of your ideal business days.
Where on Earth Did My Day Go?
Grab a sheet of paper and pen or this free template. Low tech eliminates the distraction of one more piece of software you have to learn. You don’t need more complications in your day.
Simple is good.
Divide the paper into six columns.
- Time: Beginning with your typical day’s start time, list time in 15-minute increments. Stop with your end of day time. If you’re one of those people who scroll social media or continue casually working during streaming downtime, include those hours as well.
- Activity: Be as specific as you can about each activity. You’ll want to remember the details later.
- On Target: Does this activity directly contribute to your written weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals?
- Seat of the Pants: Is this activity outside your area of expertise? Be honest with yourself. Are you doing this because you want to learn how to do it, think it can’t be that hard to figure out, or don’t have anyone on your team who can do it?
- Love It: These are the activities that light you up every time. You have a deep sense of satisfaction when you tackle these.
- Dread It: These are everything Love It isn’t. You do these activities because you feel like you must, but they are soul-sucking every time.
Discover What Your Week Looks Like
At the end of this exercise, you’ll identify opportunities to dedicate more of your time and energy to what matters most to you, your clients, and your company. This is just the beginning.
- To get the most value from this discovery, we recommend you track your time for a week– even longer if you’re committed to long-term gains.
- To provide useful insights, it needs to be accurate. No half-assing it.
- This is intended to be a personal exercise so be honest with yourself.
- There are no right /wrong answers, and no grades are given.
- This might feel like a tedious distraction when you begin, but don’t give up too soon. Valuable patterns that you might not have seen before will start to come together.
What to Do With What You’ve Learned
Now you are going to use this information to answer an important question —
“Who do I need to do the things I’m doing that don’t contribute the most to the company’s success?”
Giving up control is hard for a lot of us.
We say, “I can do it faster”, “They’re too expensive”, “We need to do it in-house because…”. Add the phrase you use to justify doing what someone else should be doing for you.
In the next part of this exercise, you’re going to discover the lost opportunities just waiting for your right who.
For each activity that you have checked as Dread It or Seat of the Pants, you have squandered your valuable time and energy. Grab your time tracking journal and add these two columns to it. There is also a free template here for you.
Opportunity Time Lost
- Calculate the time you invested in each of these activities.
Opportunity Lost Revenue
- How much did these hours cost your company in potential revenue?
- If you weren’t distracted by these activities, where would you invest your energy?
- What would that mean to you, your clients, and your company?
Finding the right whos to do the right jobs takes careful thought and a commitment to trusted relationship-building.
Tips to Put It All Together
Here are some helpful tips to regain the time to do the things you most love to do.
- Start with one activity that is on target for a short term goal.
- Clearly describe what this activity involves, why it is important, and the expected outcome. Be realistic in your expectations.
- Identify the skills needed.
- Why are you doing it now?
- Imagine how you will feel if you stop doing this.
- Start a Don’t Do It list and add this task to it. Post the list where you can’t ignore it.
- Who do you know who can do this job now?
- Why haven’t you asked them to partner with you? Take some time to objectively and honestly consider this. The answers are yours alone and don’t have to be shared with anyone.
- How will you measure success?
- Start a conversation with a potential who. You don’t have to commit to anything. Just ask questions and listen with an open mind.
- Don’t give up if one who doesn’t deliver what you expected. Evaluate, learn, and try again.
When you become comfortable always first asking yourself “Who is the right person to do this job?”, the time you were looking for will appear.
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