One of the quickest ways to improve your business is to quit. Quit overthinking, quit procrastinating, and most of all quit working so hard. Okay so that’s no secret but how to actually execute these little changes in a way that you see results is. And I’ll share with you exactly how to do it.
The key is to change how you do the work. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If you are feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, underpaid, underappreciated, or just plain fed up then you are not doing the work the right way. As a business owner you are the boss. You are the only person responsible for your growth or lack of it. That’s a lot of responsibility and stress. What possibly could relieve some of that stress? How about math!
At this point you’re starting to wonder if this blog was written by someone institutionalized or just plain delusional. A very PC way of saying crazy. Now let’s do the math. Say that you have 20 things you are trying to complete and each takes 30 minutes to complete. You just need 600 minutes, or 10 hours, and BOOM, you’re done! Right?
No. Although the math would dictate an easy peasy schedule we forgot to use our reality numbers. Reality numbers are not whole numbers or fractions they are the incalculable compound numbers of interruptions and real life time suckers. In reality numbers 10 hours of productivity actually takes about 30 hours of clock time. Why? Because one of your best suppliers sister’s cat had surgery and must relay this in detail on how crazy it is they can do laser surgery on kitty eyes now. Because your less than one-year-old printer will stop with an error code no one has ever heard of and the solution, according to the tech service, is to unplug it and plug it back in, repeatedly. Which does absolutely nothing but eat an hour of your day? I think you’re getting the picture. So now your simple to accomplish list from Monday, that you just knew would be completed by Tuesday is still sitting on your desk and its Friday after 2pm.
I know of what I speak. I am a card caring procrastinator, the poster child for adult attention deficit (someone somewhere just yelled squirrel), and I am also a people pleaser. These three things are not a recipe for productivity and a stress-free life. A mentor of mine many years ago introduced me to the 168 principle. And I’m going to share a modern and simplified way of incorporating it into your life so you can QUIT all the insanity and see a real difference in your business growth and personal life.
Although I do not have a time machine I do have a formula. Yes, more math. But we’re keeping it simple. There are 168 hours in a week. No more, no less. Simple, right? Now in those 168 hours we must work, eat, sleep, socialize, commute, unwind, and find ME time. The easiest way to realize where your time is going and even find more time for productivity and enjoyment is to schedule your actions. I mean everything. It may sound silly to say you need to pencil in dinner with the family or a morning coffee break, time to do laundry or the dishes, but you’d be amazed how much more time you seem to have when you know exactly what you are doing. And how much less stressful it is.
Years ago we used notebooks and paper weekly calendars. Today I use my Google Calendar and can schedule on the fly using my phone or from my computer or tablet. Best of all this technological little wiz keeps me on track with notifications and alarms to keep time and productivity marching forward smoothly. If I skip scheduling my work or personal life for one week, everyone who knows me realizes it. Now don’t get me wrong. I have an amazing memory. If I don’t use my calendar I know what needs done, I know where and when I need to be somewhere. But it’s all the minutes that add up to hours that surround when I’m getting those things done that seem to disappear. Worse is when I know I’m flying by the seat of my pants I’ll often spend time I don’t actually have to solve a problem that’s not mine or I lose my priority meter. Even worse I may end up in the social media rabbit hole! Sound familiar?
So the first step is identifying what goes into our 168. The original concept was to divide your 168 into three buckets of time: 56 hours each. Right off the bat we’re going to take one third of the time off. 56 hours goes to sleep and we shouldn’t be stealing time from this allotment. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t effectively take care of your business or anyone else. That leaves us with 112 hours. This is where it gets tricky. In our modern world rarely do we go to work at 9am leave at 5pm every Monday through Friday and never is the rest of the time free time. As entrepreneurs we are living our business. That’s a reason why I do not recommend the two even bucket method that for years they’ve taught with the 168 principle.
Instead you need to determine what is it that you don’t have time to do? What do you like most about the things you absolutely must do? Schedule more time for those things and create tighter time frames earlier in the day for the duties you don’t enjoy. As long as you stick to your calendar you’ll find it a breeze to accomplish the less enjoyable tasks and end your day on a higher note. You have to allow time to improve your skills, keep up on changes in your industry, technology, identify trends, and network. Plus we need to balance our personal lives with all this work growth or what’s the point? So enter it all into that calendar! TIP: Leave gaps between major tasks or traveling. You can always fill that time in if you find it’s spare.
In addition to the actual time management benefits, there is a great psychological benefit to this process as well. If you set down each night or get up early and sit down with your calendar to schedule and review your day’s tasks and obligations you’ll feel more in control, prepared, and not so overwhelmed. It’s the ‘everything in its place’ effect. That’s not to say you won’t be moving things around occasionally but you’ll have a general-purpose, goals, and timelines that will give you actual results now. When someone calls and asks for your time you can tell them exactly when you have it. NOT NOW! Put them on your schedule. This includes your clients, friends, children, and spouse, too.
Now this is a very simplified explanation of the solution and not at all the full program on how to use your 168 properly but this is the start to training yourself to QUIT wasting time. When you are decisive and time organized the other people in your world will become trained to your schedule, but that’s another post. For now just become a quitter and be happier!