If you have seen my video about how to work less hours then you might have spent some time thinking of ways to decrease your time spent at work while increasing your income and value of your business. In my video I explore several key steps to reaching this goal. Two steps that I want to explore more in this article are focus & knowledge.
Jamie Mercer states on Business to Community, “The common denominator when it comes to [the quality and quantity of work you produce] is focus; maintaining focus will allow you to invest more into your work and increase your productive output. Focused people get things done and do them well, while focused teams breed a fantastic work ethic.”
The first step is to identify your business and personal foci. What do you do? How do you do it? Is what you’re currently doing effective? These questions all relate to the processes within your business structure. Once you identify your process, you can evaluate which steps are critical to success and which are not. From there you can evaluate your personal focus within your work day. Think of your distractions and how you can eliminate them.
The most time consuming tasks within the business environment are paperwork and email correspondence. Email often goes beyond the 9-5 workday and becomes part of evening and weekend activity. Slowly but surely this time becomes substantial and overwhelming. One option to reduce this time is for you to choose to pick up the phone and have a quick conversation. This eliminates the amount of time spent continuing to refresh and recheck your inbox. Instead of 16 messages back and forth one can engage in a continuous conversation and make sure that the points made are clear and concise. You have saved time in many aspects: drafting and rereading a message, waiting patiently for a response, realizing you did not receive all of the information requested, and the need to repeat the steps above to get what you were after.
Once distractions have been identified & eliminated then you can be much more proactive at eliminating the unnecessary in your work day, including cell phone notification interruptions, long lasting coworker personal conversations, and audible distractions among other things. This elimination leads to a more aligned focus, and can increase the quality and productivity of your business practices which also leads to less time spent at work!
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
There is no point in spending excessive time learning how to do something outside of your expertise and personal interest. That time should be committed to work that you know and enjoy where you can earn more money.
Consider this proposition, you own a small business and have kept up your own books and paid your bills. Lately though, you have gotten busier and you have fallen behind on your accounting responsibilities. Bills are slipping through the cracks and because of that you are receiving late payment fees. Tax planning is impossible because you have inaccurate or incomplete records. You might know enough to get the work done (probably in the wee hours of the night) but you might be better off bringing on a CPA to help you stay on course. Yes, there will be a price for this service, but can’t you earn that money back by filling those administrative hours with the work you actually like to do? The additional bonus is that you are likely picking a skilled individual that can do your books better than you ever could. Knowledge is power but knowing where you are outside of your capacity or abilities is even more powerful.
When Dairy Queen opened their first store in 1938, they sold soft serve ice cream, and by 1950 they had 1,446 stores. Following this success, in 1951, banana splits first appeared on their menu. If they had made this menu expansion 10 years earlier, they would have been dipping their toes outside of what they knew, which wasn’t a requirement when they were starting out and beginning to perform well. Inputting too many resources at the start can cause more harm when the potential benefit is unknown. This isn’t to say that once you’re settled in your business that that’s it. You need to continue to develop and grow, but you also need to determine what is truly beneficial as to not waste your time and money. If you have to spend the majority of your workday trying to learn how to do something, this is counterproductive to trying to work fewer hours and be more productive. This time could have been spent with customers, employees, and otherwise engaging in your business.
If your main focus is to decrease the amount of time you spend working, instead of focusing on diving into new things, start with documenting your processes and then evaluating what processes can be automated. Once you have achieved both of those goals then you can begin the process of hiring new employees. By documenting, automating, and delegating, you will eliminate any unnecessary tasks and ultimately stay focused on what you truly enjoy doing!