In business, you only have 2 important resources: Time, and Money.
In some critical ways, we swap one for the other. Optimise your time to maximise your money.
When you have an oodleplex of dollars, you tend to pay other people to do things for you - you're buying Time with Money.
When you have severely limited working capital, you tend to do things yourself - you're buying Money with Time.
Money can buy you Time
- When you automate or out-source work.
- It can buy you materials (which you then don't have to mine or gather).
- It can buy you stock (which you then don't have to manufacture).
- It can buy you a website (which you then don't have to design and build).
Time can buy you Money
- When you do something yourself (rather than pay someone else to do it).
- It buys you business leads (when you network or attend a conference).
- When you respond to client calls or emails (rather than using a virtual assistant).
Like everyone else, you get 24 hours. Every day.
Ever feel as if you're on a rogue treadmill?
The treadmill is slowly accelerating, so you have to increase speed, just a little, to keep up.
Then it accelerates a little more.
You speed up a little a little more.
It accelerates wildly , you speed up ... your life flashes before your eyes, you pant, you just want this to be over, or for someone to make it better ...
Feel that? Starting to feel a little overwhelmed? Maybe a little stressed-out? A tiny hint of hysteria, perhaps - you know, that quiet little scream you allow yourself in your mind?
Enough. Please stop before you work yourself into a full-blown anxiety attack.
Relax - your workload is manageable - you just need the right tools & techniques, and your productivity will double, at minimum. You should be working off your Business Plan.
Tough Love Productivity Solution
1. Your Time = Money. So calculate your hourly rate. Yes, actual currency, e.g. $22.50 or $125.00. That is the amount of income you need to earn to stay in business: to cover your fixed & variable costs, make a profit, AND pay yourself. So whatever you do in your business takes up time, and can be quantified in financial terms. Think about that. By the way, what has Facebook done for you lately? Just a thought!
2. Every morning, make a list of what you need to do that day. Everything. Split that list under 2 headings: Deep Work, and Shallow Work. Once you understand the difference, splitting tasks is fast & easy.
Activities and results that contribute to the crux of your business. Professional activities that progress and grow your business. Work that requires laser focus, where quality and depth matter. No distractions. Examples: brains-storming product ideas, creative writing, figuring out your unique selling proposition, etc. Creates high value.
Mundane but necessary tasks. The kind of thing you would out-source if you could. Mentally undemanding work that does not engage or require passion or extreme focus. Fragmented work that you can easily interrupt, then resume, with zero impact. Examples: administrative tasks, responding to emails, filing, etc. Has low value, and is easily automated or out-sourced.
(Time Spent) X (Intensity of Focus) = High Quality Work Produced.
Prioritise and batch your Deep Work tasks in your diary. Schedule them in 90-minute chunks - start with smaller chunks if you need to, and work your way up to 90 minutes.
Fit your Shallow Work in where you can - they still need to be done, and you need to do them, until you either automate or out-source them.
4. Minimise distractions. Use White Noise if you can, or play one song on endless repeat - your brain will ignore it after a while, so it becomes a form of White Noise. Take care of the little things you know are your distractions, so unless you need it for the work, close your browser, get that drink, turn your cell-phone off, etc.
5. Select the top task under Deep Work & start a timer - focus on nothing but accomplishing that task, and finish it. Then you select the next task - until either 90 minutes have passed, or you simply cannot take it anymore. Log the time you've spent on this Deep Work.
6. Nothing more - that is it!
I call this my Tough Love Productivity Solution because it is not easy.
It can be challenging. We've become so acculturated to paying 20-seconds attention to a myriad of inputs, that many of us have lost the art of concentration & focus.
Now you know how to get it back - which is brilliant, because that is where creativity & innovation lives. It may seem simple, but this method will sky-rocket your productivity & business. It will revolutionise the way you get things done - once you learn and apply it.
Need a little help with this? Don't be shy - contact me!
Deep Work - Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport