When I meet with contractor groups, I often ask them what their biggest constraint is. By far the most common answer is time. I’d wager that 99% of you reading this article wish you had more time. To produce the best long-term outcomes for your business, and arguably for yourself and your team, it’s incumbent to eliminate wasted time and low payoff activities.
Marshall Goldsmith, author of “What Got You Here Won't Get You There” and other excellent business books, recently penned an insightful article in the Chief Executive newsletter featuring a three-part process for doing that seemingly impossible thing: creating more high-value time.
1. Play through a thought experiment.
If you were given an additional two hours per week—just two hours—to do whatever is in the best long-term interest of your company, how would you invest that time? In what ways might you add long-term value to your firm?
Most contractors respond with something along the lines of, “I'd be thinking about the people I need to help me advance the mission,” or, “I’d spend the time figuring out how to retire while feeling confident that my successor(s) will continue to run the company capably.”
With those thoughts in mind, most would want to use this newfound time to work on long-term, strategic challenges facing the company.
2. Take it one step further.
If you were forced instead to eliminate two hours of your existing workload, what would you get rid of? What would you stop doing?
Let's say you’re working 60 hours per week, but, like most contractors, you don't have the time you want to spend on high-payoff activities like those listed above, business development or developing future leaders. Reality dictates that you're not going to magically get more minutes and hours in the day. So, the only way to create that time is to stop doing certain things.
Look at your calendar and task list and determine where you’re dithering away your valuable time in low payoff areas. Delegate what you can to free up your time and mental energy for the higher payoff tasks. When you ruthlessly scrutinize how much of your time is low payoff or wasted, it can be eye opening.
3. Ask your team members for input.
They can help refine your focus with the new two hours you have created. You'll often find that they're very creative. They want to support you. They want you, as a senior leader, to be working at your highest and best use.
Ask them to reflect on areas of improvement for the business, for the team and for you as the company leader. Look for any patterns or similarities in their responses, and work together to brainstorm what changes can be made to ensure everyone in the business is working to their highest potential.