If 20 years of coaching business owners to grow their companies has taught me anything, it's taught me this: you're overworked, stressed out, feeling
like you run just to stay even, let alone get ahead.
You're drowning in information and struggling to find an effective way to structure and organize information.
Most of all you're frustrated. Frustrated you have too many "small" things that get in your way of focusing on the big stuff that really matters.
You crave a sense of control and balance in your life, and you'll do just about anything to enjoy them.
You just don't know how to get control and balance back.
In the past, you've chased after results and balance by working harder. You've tried working longer hours. You've tried working harder for the hours you do work. You've brought work home with you, worked while on your "vacation", multi-tasked while driving, eating, and probably even while sleeping!
And yet it hasn't helped. The more you do, the more you find is left to be done. It's a vicious cycle.
A Simple Secret That Holds the Key
I want to let you in on a little secret. Working harder is not the answer. It wasn't yesterday, nor will it be tomorrow.
Working harder is a reaction to the fear you feel you have so much to do. It will NOT get you the results you crave.
In fact, the harder you work, chances are the less you'll accomplish what really matters. I know this sounds easy for me to say, but hang in there with me as I walk through a key concept with you.
You've likely heard of "Pareto's Principle" which states 80% of your efforts produce 20% of your results, and 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results. Well if this is true (and my experience shows me it is) then let's apply this concept more rigorously.
If you take 20% of your actions that generate 80% of your results and apply the same distinction, then 20% of 20% produces 80% of 80% of your results, which means four percent of your effort (the 20% of 20%) generates 64% of your results.
And if you can bear with me for another math moment, apply this distinction one more time . . .
This means one percent (20% of 20% of 20%) generates 50% of your results! Think about it—one percent of your highest leverage work produces 50% of all your results!
I used this idea to create something called the "Time Mastery Pyramid," which is an actual formula I developed five years ago for you to quickly and accurately quantify the per hour value of four distinct types of time: A Time, B Time, C Time, and D Time.
D time is 80% of unleveraged, wasteful time and only produces 20% of your total return. I call this time the "80% Mass."
C time is the leveraged 20 percent produces 80% of your results. I call this time "Leveraged Time."
For most people, this is the only distinction they have ever made about time. And while it's better than most people have, if this is your only distinction on time, you are never going to earn what you are capable of earning, both in terms of income or net worth.
Next, there is B time. This time is the highly focused four percent that generates 64% of your results. I call this time the "4% Sweet Spot."
And finally, there is the top of the pyramid A time—the "Magic one percent." Fully 50% of your results come from these activities.
Did you know most people not only have no idea what activities of theirs fall into the above four categories, but they don't even know they exist? How in the world can you create more A and B time if you don't know what activities constitute A and B time for you?
Here is the real question for you: What activities do you do that fit into each of the four time categories above? What are your D activities? What are your C activities? What are your B activities? What are your A activities?
When you get this distinction and shift your focus from "putting in hours" to upgrading the type of work you do (more A and B time, and less D time) the results are amazing.
Let me share an example with you. Imagine you are an attorney who charges $300 an hour. What would your D time activities be? Things like fixing a computer glitch, or making copies, or sorting out mail, or any of the things you do you cannot bill a client for. What should you do with these activities? Delay them, delegate them, or dump them. You simply cannot afford to do them yourself.
What would your "C time" activities be? Anything that is a billable time for you. This could include working on a legal brief, reviewing a contract, or updating a client.
Understand this: C time can provide you with a great income, but you will always have to work exceptionally hard to earn it. This trap catches most professionals. They seek to increase their earnings by cranking out more hours. MISTAKE! More hours will only take you so far. Plus when you get there you'll be exhausted from all that work, and you'll be a stranger to your family!
The answer lies in A and B time. B time for this attorney might include building relationships with other professionals who refer over business. Or putting systems in place in their law firm so their staff can get better results without needing so much of our fictional attorney's time. It might also include creating an accounts receivable system that increases the collection on all the firm's billings by 10%. You get the idea.
What would A time look like? This could be speaking at a large conference where this attorney is able to generate new client relationships for his or her firm that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of billable services. Or it could be writing a book that can be used to generate new business for the firm.
See the difference yet? D time is by definition something you should get off your plate. C time is the time you do your work more effectively. A and B time, however, are when you step out of the "doing-ness" of the work and do something that improves your capacity to create results, or significantly pushes back your limiting factor (e.g. generating new clients, improving a critical system, etc.)
In fact, by focusing on upgrading your USE of time instead of focusing on increasing your hours worked, you can often double or triple your income, while at the same time lowering your working hours.
So now here comes the big question: How can you have more A and B time?
You won't get it by "trying harder." And you won't get it by sitting down and saying, "Okay, let's have A time right now."
Sorry, it just doesn't work that way. Trying harder would be like a parent saying to their three-year-old, "Right, let's have an hour of quality time right now, Junior." How well do you think would work?
What I've discovered is to get more A and B time you have to fundamentally alter the way you structure your day and your week.
In fact, when you learn and master the ways to structure your time, you will automatically enjoy more A and B time.
Focus Days and Push Days
Let me share with you a powerful concept to help you get more A and B time, and to minimize the D time that gets in the way.
I call this technique "Focus Days" and "Push Days."
Let me share with you the way I use it in my own life.
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are my push days. These are the days I "push" key projects and the "work" I do forward-step-by-step. These are the days I am accessible by phone and email. These are the days I hold many of my phone meetings.
On these days I "get stuff done" and move projects forward.
I have set aside my Tuesdays and Thursdays as my Focus Days. These days I turn off the phones and email for the majority of the day and focus on doing the highest value activities I can for my businesses. For me, that usually means I am writing on these days. I'm writing new books; I'm writing a sales copy; I'm writing strategic plans for my teams to implement.
In fact, I often leave the office and work remotely these days. I go to a library and write there. Or I go to a cafe and work there. (I find that removes the temptation to do C and D work that seems to live in every corner of my office.)
Here's the most amazing part—I can accomplish HUGE results in 3–4 hours on my Focus Days that I never would have accomplished if I stayed in the office "doing" the work all day long.
(In case you're wondering, I often will check in at the end of the day for 30–45 minutes to answer the most important phone messages or email.)
Now maybe you can't set aside two full days a week as Focus Days, but you can find one day a week or at the very least HALF a day a week as your Focus Day.
I encourage you to try out these ideas and see the impact they can have on your business and your life yourself.
David Finkel is co-author of, SCALE: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back (written with Priceline.com co-founder Jeff Hoffman), and one of the nation's most respected business thinkers. A Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business books, David's weekly business owner e-letter is read by 100,000 business owners around the world. David is the CEO of Maui Mastermind®, one of the nation's premier business coaching companies. Over the past 20 years, David and the other Maui coaches have personally scaled and sold over $2 billion of businesses.
Are you interested in boosting your career, personal development, networking, and giving back? If so, WITI is the place for you! Become a WITI Member and receive exclusive access to attend our WITI members-only events, webinars, online coaching circles, find mentorship opportunities (become a mentor; find a mentor), and more!
Founded in 1989, WITI (Women in Technology International) is committed to empowering innovators, inspiring future generations and building inclusive cultures, worldwide. WITI is redefining the way women and men collaborate to drive innovation and business growth and is helping corporate partners create and foster gender inclusive cultures. A leading authority of women in technology and business, WITI has been advocating and recognizing women's contributions in the industry for more than 30 years.