Is there a better way to get things done?


Picture by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr

People are busy these days…and most business owners are crazy busy to the point where it’s not a surprise to miss out on family, friends or things they would just enjoy doing. There’s a desperate need to be more productive, more efficient with time, to get more done.

What if being more productive, more efficient isn’t really an answer?

Think about it this way – what if you compared your challenge of needing to get more done with the challenge of having a long commute every day to and from work (which might contribute to you not having enough time).

Studies have shown that long commutes are devastating – even a significant risk to your marriage so it’s a problem worth solving. But the typical thinking when people try to address a long commute is to nibble around the edges: find a better route to work, try to travel during non-peak traffic times, consider mass transit, get a better/faster car. If you can shave 15 minutes off of an hour long commute, you’ve done something pretty amazing.

But you still have a 45 minute commute (probably with increased risks of traffic safety and tickets) – yes it’s better, but did you really solve your problem?

To put it into the context of productivity – maybe you implemented some great time management techniques and now you can get 25% more stuff done. You’re more efficient but you may or may not be more effective. You’re still working 60+ hours and there is always more  to do.

Maybe you need to consider the commute problem in a completely different way.  When it comes to your long commute you do have other choices – ones that change the game:

  • You could move closer to where you work
  • You could change jobs to something closer to where you live
  • You could push for telecommuting

None of these will make you more efficient at commuting – but all of them would have a MUCH bigger impact on the problem that you’re trying to solve (more effective).

Changing the Rules for Productivity

If we take the same approach to the challenge of being truly productive – what options do you have?

The good news is that as a business owner you actually have a lot of great options (although you might not believe it).  In his book The One Thing, author and entrepreneur Gary Keller (he’s the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty) makes a great point that your success is driven by the vital few…a very small number of activities that have a disproportionate impact on your outcomes. Also known as the 80/20 Rule, the concept is pretty simple – figure out what you do (that others can’t do or don’t do as well) that drives the engine of your business – and just do those things.

Stop doing all the other stuff you spend your time on – either delegate it, automate it or literally just stop doing it.

Let’s say your special skill is selling – but as the owner of the business you currently only spend a few hours a week on selling (and yet you’re still the rainmaker for the company). Hire a great general manager – someone you can trust, who has the administrative, management and leadership skills to do a lot of the other stuff that takes up your time and spend the majority of your time selling.

Your initial thought might be: “I can’t afford to hire someone like that” – if you could sell more…say 30%, 50% or even 100% more, it’s likely that you could afford to hire someone else.

You might also think: “They won’t be as good as I am when it comes to running the business.”  You might be right (although none of us is great at everything).  But even if that’s true, if someone else can be at 80% of your level for most things…and if you hire right, even better than you at some other things, then overall you’ll be fine.  Plus it’s not like you’re leaving – you’ll be around to train, coach and help out when it’s needed.

Imagine cutting back your responsibilities to the one or two things that you not only are really good at, but really enjoy.  Imagine cutting back your hours and just working 40 or even 50 hours a week maximum…getting enough sleep…having the time to really think and plan and be proactive for a change – that’s when your business really has a chance to become something.

This isn’t easy – but it will solve your problem of working too much…which by the way is a symptom of a business that’s ultimately in trouble. In order to successfully scale your business you will have to find some way to make a big change like this – or eventually end up closing down your business. If you’re looking for more ideas or details on this – check out 15 Ideas to Make You Super Productive.

The hardest part isn’t all the work and planning around how to make a change like this, the hardest part for most business owners is breaking the pattern of how they’ve always done things. Opening up to new ideas and being willing to let go of key responsibilities. If you can get your mind around this new idea – you’re way more than 1/2 way there.

What do you think? Have you figured out how to focus on your strength? Your sweet spot? Your One Thing? Are you trying to find ways to drive faster or are you getting rid of your commute overall?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach