Redefining Productivity In Your Business
Last time, we talked about how CEOs spend their time. Today, we want to address how you can make more money in less of your time, which will give you a higher quality of life.
Some people say, “How can you make more money in less of your time? That’s crazy! The only way to get ahead in my business is to work harder, and harder, and harder.” There’s this endless grind of insanely hard work. In fact, most business leaders and managers use hours worked as a measurement tool. The belief is that somebody who worked 80 hours a week is more productive than somebody who only works 50 hours a week. But that’s a very flawed concept.
The measurement of success and productivity is not work hours. It can never be work hours. Do you really care about time and effort, or is it results that are more important to you?
Studies have shown that the people who are the most productive are really selective about what they do. They set clear priorities. They complete tasks that add value. They choose their meetings and their customer contacts really carefully. They put in intense, targeted effort. And of course, if you add value to your organization and your customers, your personal value in the organization goes up too.
So now how does this study relate to business leaders and owners? First of all, you’ve got to learn to say no. It is so easy for us to get sucked into every little decision, and operation, and meeting in our business. Learn to say no. It is a powerful tool. Let somebody else do the heavy lifting for a while. It’s not that bad, believe me.
The second thing is to apply Occam’s Razor, which is a theory that states that the simplest solutions are always the best. We tend to like complex models, and complex equations, and complex ways of doing things. We think maybe that adds sophistication. Occam’s Razor works. Pare everything down to the simplest way. I had someone tell me one time, when he had a complex process that he needed to work on and improve in his business, he would give that process to the laziest employee he had. His theory was, the lazy employees are going to figure out the easiest ways to do things. I don’t know if I believe that or not, but the point is, put these processes in the hands of your people. Let them help you figure out what the simplest and best solutions are for getting things done.
The next thing you have to do is focus on value added. Again, not for you and your career, or your advancement in the business. How can you add value to your organization and your customers, not yourself? Focus on your unique ability. Your unique ability is something that you love to do, you never get tired of doing, and the more you do, the better you get at it. There are three or four things that fall into your unique ability. The more you get rid of all that other stuff that you don’t like doing and that you’re not that good at doing, the more you can focus on your unique ability, the more productive you’re going to be, and your organization is absolutely going to show results.
Help your team focus on their unique abilities. Some people are great at support and organization, others might be creative and great at coming up with ideas, etc. Let them do the things they’re great at. Don’t put square pegs into round holes. Let people work in their unique ability. If you have a service advisor who is great at sales, don’t try to turn him into a general manager. Let them work in their unique ability. They’re going to be happier, and they’re going to create more results for you.
Then finally, I would add this. Jealously guard your family and your personal time. If you’ve got blocked off to go on a long weekend to the beach with your wife and kids, do it. Don’t take your laptop and check your email obsessively every 15 minutes. Unplug. Turn your phone off. Give your phone to your wife, and let her hide it from you or something. But jealously guard your personal time, so that you can get away from the business, and get your exercise. Get your relaxation, get your rejuvenation, so when you do come back to work, you’re stronger than you were before.
The best, most productive employees work pretty hard. They work about 50 hours a week, not 60, not 100 – 50 hours a week. They focus on value added. If you can focus on value added, you too can work 50 hours a week, (maybe less if you’re lucky), and you too can make a huge difference in the life of your organization, and the life of your family.