In a previous blog we discussed the importance of planning your day (read it here). Following on from that article, it became obvious that we had overlooked passing on a critical lesson to you.
At GGA, we’ve spent a lot of time analysing how we actually spend our time. Paul (our MD) in particular was getting frustrated at not achieving the tasks that he knew would propel the business forward.
As the end of our financial year approaches, the last couple of days at GGA have been focused on goals and strategy for the next 12 months. We find that setting goals for the next 12 months then bringing it back down to strategic tasks for next 90 days works well for us and is both manageable and achievable.
We’re sure there’s lots of evidence to support the case for planning in 90 day chunks, however, our approach is based on the simple fact that it works. We find it’s easier to think big for the next 12 months and then work on our 90 day goals and hold ourselves accountable as a team.
So imagine you have a clear 12 month or 90 day plan. Day 1 you are motivated… until lunch. Usually the day-to-day business gets in the way and the plan was filed under ‘to be reviewed at a later date’.
Constant improvement is at the core of everything we do and we get a lot of our ideas from reading and listening to audiobooks. At the moment we’re rediscovering; The Slight Edge, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Eat That Frog.
The common theme amongst all of these texts is actually that you start with the end in mind and then you work on the first things first which involves eating a few frogs first thing in the morning (not literally).
It’s far easier to procrastinate and focus on being busy with getting the job done than to actually work out what is truly important.
As a team, we discovered recently that if you’re not clear on ‘what’ the next important thing is, it means that you need to go back, review, reassess and think big. We worked out that whilst we had a 12 month plan with clearly defined goals, we weren’t focussing on the important tasks vital to actually get us there.
Now the biggest barrier that most people (we included ourselves in that bracket) do not struggle to identify the most important thing, instead it is the implementation of the tasks and this typically boils down to poor prioritisation and scheduling.
And this brings us back round to the topic of this post… prioritisation.
– Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
After 3 years of being in the Entrepreneurs Circle and hearing Nigel Botterill talk on the subject numerous times, the penny has dropped.
Eating Frogs / 90 Minute Chunks / First Things First are all advocating the same core principles. Instead of getting into the office and checking emails, socialising and grabbing a strong, black coffee, the focus needs to be on achieving the single most important thing you have identified that will propel your business forwards. The same principle applies as much to your personal and family life even more than business.
So how do you know you have prioritised your day? It’s simply when you know the #1 thing today that will make a difference and is aligned to your long-term goals. No matter what happens for the rest of your day, moving forwards and YOU are part of your plan, not someone else’s.
So we thought we’d share a few simple tips and lesson then mean we have more time in our day-to-day business to focus on the important things. It’s about working smarter, not harder:
Identifying the ‘One Big Thing’
We have identified that the most important day-to-day activity for GGA is getting and keeping customers.
If you asked us to score that activity out of 10 for its importance to the success of our business, it’s a 10 (no-brainer).
Log Your Time
So getting and keeping customers, for GGA, has the highest score possible for importance — it’s a 10. So how much time do we spend getting and keeping customers?
The shocking fact that we discovered after logging our time (using Loggable) for a week was that our 10/10 activity only accounted to 16% of total time for Paul! Meetings, admin, finance, team, projects, firefighting and travel were all contributing towards the other 84%.
So we simply looked at what was critica had to be done by Paul, who else could help and what could be deleted based on Covey’s matrix. Another great exercise is to evaluate your daily tasks on a start, stop, keep doing approach.
This is how Paul saved 6 hours a week and instead used that time to focus on the important tasks and eating lots of lovely frogs.
Sounds really obvious but instead of automatically scheduling meetings we refer to our default diary. This allows scheduled time for strategy, planning and the important tasks.
We’re also a massive advocate of inviting people into our office to meet the team and understand our culture and passion.
This has massive benefits and allows back to back meetings as well as changing 3 hour round trip meetings into 45 minutes. The time saved can then be used productively on the day to day admin tasks.
These simple observations and subsequent changes on a daily basis have released so much time. Many people who have identified the 1 thing critical to the success of their business jeopardise the realisation of their goals but letting everyone else dictate their agendas.
Only by logging our time were we able to see the real world data.
Bottom line: if you’re struggling to prioritise your todo list, you’re probably not clear on your critical goals. If you are clear on your goals, prioritising tasks but still not doing them, you need to reassess your goals. Is it really the most important thing that will propel your business forward in the direction you choose.