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The More You Do, The More You’ll Have To Do

Here’s how to multiply your time and do less, but actually improve your overall productivity.

GG van Rooyen

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Rory-Vaden

What exactly is the point of all the productivity strategies, hacks, apps and to-do lists we’re all so obsessed with these days? The point, obviously, is to help us be more effective in how we use our time. But here’s the thing: None of it seems to be working.

Sure, a strategy or tool might be effective in helping us deal with a specific duty in a more efficient manner, but it never seems to result in a marked increase in overall free time.

The more we do, the more we have to do.

Why is this? According to self-discipline strategist and New York Times bestselling author Rory Vaden, the problem lies in our fundamental approach to productivity. According to Vaden, everything we think we know about productivity is wrong.

Related: Why Time Management is Just a Waste of Time

It’s about emotions

“Today, time management is no longer just logical. Today, time management is emotional,” says Vaden. “How we choose to spend our time is not just logical, it is also emotional. Our feelings of guilt, fear, anxiety and frustration dictate how we choose to spend our time as much as anything that’s in our calendar or on our to-do list.”

But the traditional ways of looking at time management do not take this emotional element into account. It treats humans like automatons that approach tasks in robotic fashion, with little concern for the emotions that drive our activities.

Over-simplified thinking

A lot of thinking around time management and efficiency is one-dimensional and overly simple. The thinking is: The quicker I manage to scratch items off my to-do list, the more time I’ll have. The frenetic pace of the modern world, however, has shown that this is not the case. Frantically ticking items off your to-do list by order of importance never seems to result in more free time.

However, a more evolved version of this paradigm exists, of which Dr Stephen Covey’s time management grid is a good example. It looks not only at what is important, but also at what is urgent.

The aim of this approach is to prioritise — to focus on that which is both urgent and important. But, while adding urgency to the equation can certainly help in setting the right priorities, it has a massive limitation when it comes to time management: It is incapable of adding free time. In no way does it clear your schedule and free up time — it simply reshuffles your to-do list.

“All prioritising does is take item number seven on your to-do list and bump it up to number one, but it doesn’t do anything inherently to create more time,” says Vaden. “All it does is allow you to take time away from one activity to accomplish another.”

This, according to Vaden, leaves us with only one strategy: To do more things, and to do them more quickly, which results in the kind of harried and rushed society we’re living in today.

Three-dimensional thinking

Thankfully, there is a strategy to overcome this — what Vaden calls three-dimensional time management thinking — but it requires us to look at time management and productivity in a very different way.

According to this strategy, you don’t look only at the importance and urgency of any activity, but also its significance — in other words, how long will any given priority truly matter? You need to ask yourself: What can I do today that will make tomorrow better?

“You multiply your time by giving yourself the emotional permission to spend time on things today that will give you more time tomorrow,” says Vaden.

Okay, so what exactly does this mean in real terms? According to Vaden, you need to ask the following questions when any task arrives on your desk:

  1. Is this task really necessary? Is it even worth doing, or can I eliminate it right from the outset?
  2. If I can’t eliminate it, can I perhaps automate it? Can I create a process for this?
  3. If it can’t be automated, can it be delegated? Can I teach someone to do this?
  4. If it can’t be delegated, should I do this now, or can it wait?

Related: 7 Management Lessons From a 7-Time CEO

The Focus Funnel

Time management grid

Vaden tells us to imagine this process as a funnel, with any task going through the stages of elimination, automation and delegation, until it drops out of the bottom of the funnel, becoming your problem. If you decide that a task can wait, Vaden says you are ‘procrastinating on purpose’.

The task goes back into the funnel, cycling through until you can either automate or delegate it, or you find that it has become a task that you need to do immediately. If none of this ever happens, well, you’ll realise that this is a task that simply isn’t all that important, and can be eliminated altogether.

“There’s a difference in waiting to do something that we know we should be doing, but don’t feel like doing, and waiting to do something because we realise that now is not the right time,” says Vaden. “That isn’t procrastination; that is a virtue that the world really needs: the patience to put off the insignificant things like checking email 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

Watch this

Watch Rory Vaden’s TEDx talk on the subject How to Multiply Your Time.

Read Next: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

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How to Calculate the True Monetary Value of Your Time

As an entrepreneur, your time is precious. To protect it, you must know exactly what it’s worth.

Nathan Resnick

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time-management-advice

Do you know the value of your time? Ken Segall, creator of Apple’s famous ‘Think Different’ ad campaign for agency Chiat/Day, said he got thrown out of a meeting once by the founder of his agency, Jay Chiat.

“Why are you here?” he asked Segall and the art director, who’d shown up with everybody else. “We’re just responding to the invitation,” said Segall. Chiat told them to get lost. “Go create something,” he said.

Jay Chiat knew the value of his creative people’s time. He knew it wasn’t worth it for them to go into that meeting when they could be putting together the next big ad campaign. They were more valuable to the company doing the creative work that made it run than attending a meeting.

That’s what knowing the value of your time can do for you; it tells you what’s most important. Time is the one resource all of us have, but it’s also painfully finite in nature. You can’t bank it — all you can do is invest 
it wisely.

As an entrepreneur, if you don’t know the true monetary value of your time, how are you going to prioritise your business and your life? What does it take to find the monetary value of your time?

Invest your time

Be aware that your time is likely to appreciate in value. If you’re a founder or running a successful business, your time’s value will increase as your business does. Sooner or later, the monetary value of your time is going to surpass the importance of money. It’ll be more important for you to invest your time in moving the business forward because your time is going to be worth more. So, invest your time on process early, lest you spend it later putting out fires.

Related: 5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity

Crunch the numbers

James Clear

Entrepreneur James Clear decided to approach this problem systematically — he talked to everyone from poker players to executive coaches to figure out what the optimal method of measuring his time’s value was.

Then, he sat down and tracked every hour for three months. The upshot of that time investment was a very clear process that you can use to lay out what your time is worth.

First, figure out the amount of time you spend to earn money. That’s not just time spent working. Are you commuting? That’s time you’re using towards work that’s not going elsewhere. School? That counts. Drop the kids off at school? Add it on.

If it’s related to the time you spend earning money, add it on. Clear’s estimate guesses that most full-time employees and entrepreneurs spend around 2 500 hours a year on this (his exact estimate for himself came out to 2 742).

Then, figure out how much you earn in take-home pay per year. That calculation should be pretty simple, though if you’re a business owner, it’ll be a little more complex as you figure out taxes and withholding.

Divide your total earnings by the hours you spend to earn it. That’s your time’s value.

Surprised? It’s probably lower than you expected, especially if you calculated the extra hours devoted to things like dropping of kids at school or commuting accurately. We don’t often think of our work value in terms of total hours spent.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Time Management Is Such A Waste Of Time

Create a system of checks and balances

You don’t want to just rely on that, though. Maybe you’re being underpaid (or underpaying yourself, if you’re an entrepreneur — don’t laugh, it’s more common than you think). Maybe another factor is throwing it off, or your math has 
an error.

Consider a few other factors:

  • What do other people make to do your job?
  • What would you pay someone else to do your job?
  • What could you make on the open market if you were to go find another job?

Run those numbers against each other to determine an average. For entrepreneurs, this changes everything. Once you understand this number, it’ll change the way you approach everything in your business and your life.

Know what your own time is worth. Remind yourself of it constantly. If you do, you’ll find yourself more productive, more efficient, more satisfied, and more successful.

So, what are you waiting for? Invest wisely.

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(Infographic) 9 Productivity Mistakes You’re Making In The First 10 Minutes Of Your Day

From setting goals to drinking coffee, these bad morning habits might surprise you.

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productivity

There are a number of things you’re probably doing every morning that are actually hindering your productivity.

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you might be surprised to find out that drinking coffee between 8 and 10 a.m can make you more stressed throughout the day. That’s because caffeine early in the morning interferes with the time that the stress hormone, cortisol, is peaking in your body. It’s best to get your fix between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When you get into the office and try to jump right into the top of your to-do list, you might find yourself confused and not very productive. When you don’t let your brain empty and refresh before starting a project or task, it loses a sense of control, becomes overwhelmed and ultimately, makes you less productive. Something else to avoid is checking email or social media right when you wake up. Typically, after checking your inbox, it takes a person at least 25 minutes to get back into a productive state. If you start your day off reading and responding to email after email, it will take you a long time to get back on track.

Another surprising mistake is setting self-imposed goals. Setting goals and deadlines for yourself might seem like an obvious productivity hack, but it turns out, that’s not the case. Instead, share your deadlines with others and you’ll feel more pressure and responsibility to get things done.

Related: 5 Surprising Elements That Boost Your Productivity (One of Them Is Colour)

Check out resume.io’s infographic below for more productivity mistakes you’re likely making in the first 10 minutes of your day.

1538429589_9-productivity-mistakes-infographics-7934969f76af5ebe1b5b0b84ce9053ec43752717512fb7d9339e84f86afe91d1

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Workflow And Business Efficiency – 5 Strategies You Ignore At Your Peril

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. You’re not still depending on email, are you?

Toby Nwazor

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business-efficiency

An inefficient business can cost you a lot more than just growth – it can affect your revenue, too. According to a report by IDC, your business runs the risk of losing 20 to 30 percent of your revenue due to inefficient systems.

Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to implement the right systems to improve their workflow. Others have it worse, because they have no systems. In those situations, projects take ages to be completed, more time is spent on menial tasks and teams never seem to get enough done during work hours.

If that describes your company, your company’s profits may start to plummet, too.

Every successful business, then, has clearly defined systems to help the business run like clockwork. Improved workflow, better management and business efficiency save time, increase the bottom line and ensure a higher profit margin.

In fact, in an article on ContractZen, Tim Cummins, president of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management, wrote that, “The average corporation could boost its bottom line by almost 10 percent if it invested in improving the quality of contracting.

For many companies – especially those in more complex, project-based industries – the prize could be much higher – perhaps as much as 15 percent.”

Related: Become A Life-Hacker

Unfortunately, some companies fail to provide systems that put users first, taking a negative toll on those companies’ workflow and efficiency. The good news is that they’re only five strategies away from turning this around:

1. Automate all you can

automated-emails

From email lists, bookkeeping, invoicing and contract management, to social media posts and payrolls, almost everything can be automated. For a business that aims to be more efficient, automation is a must.

Automation doesn’t just save you time, it can be the one strategy that can guarantee explosive growth and higher conversion rates. According to this Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness study, 63 percent of companies polled that were outgrowing their competitors said they had automated their marketing.

Automating monotonous tasks that have to be repeated several times during the day helps you be more productive in tasks that require your personal attention.

2. Invest in customer-relationship management software

It’s not uncommon to find businesses that are barely able to keep up with their leads. Some waste hours hunting the low-quality leads instead of focusing their energy on those ready to buy. Here, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution linked to these businesspeople’s network phone system is a great way to enhance customer communications.

Customers value businesses that provide excellent customer service. A CRM solution increases the ability to keep track of customer information, monitor leads and provide efficient delivery. Businesses can provide for their customers’ needs faster and make effective business decisions. With CRM, businesses can also keep their focus on quality leads that will drastically improve conversion rates.

Related: 11 Ways To Maximise Every Part Of Your Day

3. Set up a task-management system

slack-logo

Emails alone don’t cut it as an efficient way to communicate with team members. Email makes it difficult to carry everyone along. However, setting up task-management software like Slack, Trello or Asana makes it much easier to have everyone’s tasks in one place and ensure that everyone is carried along in the project.

Task-management software helps members of a team track their progress and ensure that everyone is working on their tasks.

4. Sync your calendar with that of everyone else on your team

How many times have you had to reschedule appointments because you didn’t know you had other meetings lined up for the day?

Aside from leaving negative impression in clients’ mind, this error makes you less productive. Having to go back and forth until you have settled on an appropriate date can be cumbersome especially when different time zones are involved. So, do this instead: Sync your personal calendar with your work calendar, and make sure that everyone in your team is synced to the latter, too.

This will ensure sure that everybody is “on the same page” in terms of appointments and deadlines. Google Calendar can help you do just that. Once everyone is synced up, any change in the calendar will be seen by everyone so they can manage their own appointments.

5. Block out chunks of time

time-management

Constant interruptions hamper your workflow. Imagine having to deal with turning over a project on a deadline while you’re stuck in a series of meetings throughout the day. It can get very difficult to focus on completing your most urgent tasks.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar for uninterrupted work. It’s better to schedule a series of meetings in one day than to spread them throughout the week.

If you’re creating content, block out one day to create all the content you’ll use for the week. That way your business will run more efficiently.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Embrace Change

Wrapping it up

With the right strategies, you can turn your business around to make it efficient and lucrative. Automating your processes, setting up the right software and remaining focused on the tasks at hand will go a long way to help you do this. But just as with every good strategy, you need to remain consistent and give it time to do its magic.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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