Improving Your Business through Priority Management: A Three-Step Process
When you’re a business owner – even as a franchisor or franchisee – it’s easy to get caught up in a mountain of small tasks. It’s important to focus on (and finish) the vital few tasks every day and not the trivial many, but getting there can feel overwhelming.
It starts with changing “time management” to “priority management” and that comes down to a simple formula – identify and then stop doing the wrong type of tasks so you can free up valuable time, talent and energy to focus on the right type of tasks. Basically, do more things that make money, save money and improve both customer and employee satisfaction.
Here are 3 simple steps to help you get more focused, effective and productive.
Identify the Wrong Tasks: What are you handling on a daily basis that could be delegated or outsourced? We know business owners have a hard time letting go of the day-to-day operations, but if you’re working in your business, then you aren’t leaving time to work on your business and improve employee and customer satisfaction. Think about what low-value, seemingly urgent, unimportant tasks that you routinely, reactively and mistakenly handle each day in your professional and personal life.
That clutter is different for each person, but it generally involves an owner doing a task well below their pay grade and a task that should be handled by an employee or outsourced to a cheaper provider. That could be spending too much time on email, social media, needless paperwork, web surfing, employee interruptions, pointless meetings, bookkeeping, trivial administration, busy work, excessive socializing, personal calls, putting out fires caused by others, doing other people's work, etc. For example, if you’re doing the bookkeeping instead of hiring a $20/hour employee to take care of that for you, you’re stealing from your bottom line.
Stop Doing the Wrong Type of Work: After you identify your clutter, write each of those tasks down on paper and create a not-do-list. Then commit to either delegating half of those tasks, deleting them or outsourcing them over the next 90 days. Get rid of such low-value activities that produce minimal results for your business or career. Get them off your plate and on to someone else's plate or simply throw them out. Unless you eliminate the clutter, you can't free up time and talent to do more meaningful, strategic, profitable work.
Start Doing More of the Right Kind of Work: 80 percent of your results come from only 20 percent of your talents and activities, so that means 80 percent of the work you’re doing every day might be clutter. Focus on the 20 percent of your talents and activities that drive the vast majority of your results and success. These tasks should be easy to identify and you already know them in your gut. They are those meaningful and important tasks that produce money, save money or improve customer or employee satisfaction. It’s time to pursue money-making activities – not money-wasting activities. To keep yourself honest, you need to ask, "Is this task making me money or costing me money?"
Here is a simple strategy to get more of the important and meaningful things done each and every day: Before you leave work for the day, write down the three most important tasks you need to accomplish the next day. Again, these should make money, save money or improve customer or employee satisfaction. Then put those three items in order of importance. If you accomplish only those three critical tasks, the return (greater revenue, happier employees or customers, reduced costs, higher productivity) will be significant.
The next day, break out that top three list and go to work ONLY on the first item. Once that’s complete, move to number two and then number three. Don’t do anything else until those three items are complete. Don’t answer phones, check email or social media, play with paperwork, roam the halls, surf the internet… Put your head down and go about tackling your top three vital tasks, in order. Even if you only complete the top one or two vital tasks, you will be better off.
If you can accomplish those few vital tasks each and every day, instead of the trivial many, you will have greater success and balance in your life. It all comes down to working smarter, not harder.