9 Productivity Thieves Preventing Your Company From Performing At A Higher-Level
You can probably feel it… Time keeps ticking by and it’s one thing you can’t get back once it’s gone.
It’s so easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day emergencies and fire-fighting in our companies that we reach the end of the day asking ourselves what we’ve really accomplished.
Chances are, there are a number of high-value projects or initiatives that you and your team could be spending more time on if it weren’t for all the other things that keep screaming for your attention.
One of the challenges we face, is that we often don’t make accurate assessments about our own productivity. We feel like we’re getting a lot done because we’re doing a lot, but activity doesn’t always translate into productivity. Doing doesn’t mean done.
Don’t believe me?
Try This Productivity Hack – You’ll Thank Me Later
Buy yourself a little notebook and at the end of every single work day, only write down what you actually get done that’s going to move your business forward.
When I first started doing this, I was shocked.
I was busy all day, but often was only able to list a few projects or tasks that were actually going to make a difference. Now, while you may not like doing this at first, there’s a big payoff for committing to doing it.
This simple exercise creates awareness. Awareness allows us to start consciously making different choices. And as they say, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Plus, if you’re competitive, you’ll start to feel a strong desire to be able to put more in that little notebook at the end of each day.
Naturally, the challenge is that we have a finite amount of time. If that time is dedicated to urgent but unimportant activities, we’re not going to have much to show for our efforts at the end of the day, quarter and fiscal year.
And as Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
But, in order to focus your time on more productive work, you’ll need to eliminate or ignore a lot of that things that are putting demands on your time on a daily basis.
9 Time-Thieves Preventing You From Doing What’s Most Important
Here are just a few of the things that can pull you away from the important projects (where you could really be adding more value to your company):
- Constantly putting out fires
- Juggling too many priorities to effectively execute on any of them
- Frequent interruptions
- Trying to remember how to do certain tasks or projects (aka “task-switching”)
- Dealing with mistakes that have to be corrected
- Customer service issues that shouldn’t be happening
- Repeatedly having to train/re-train people on what to do and how to do it
- Resolving issues between your people and trying to get them all working in the same direction
- Dealing with performance issues
The Common Thread Behind The 9 Time-Thieves
What do all of those time-thieves have in common?
If you guessed “operations” or “how things are being done” then you guessed correctly.
Whether you realize it or not, each of these distractions is a by-product of the way your business operations are structured. After all, what’s the difference between a company that’s running like a well-oiled machine and one that’s chaotic, stressful and spinning it’s wheels (and every business in-between)?
You could make an argument that it’s the people, until you consider a corporation like McDonalds® that can hire young kids and quickly train them to work in a business that runs well regardless of the location.
Naturally, you need to hire the right people and make sure they are in the right seats or you’re going to have values conflicts, quarrels and an inability to perform relative to job requirements.
For a moment, set aside the human component, and ask yourself what’s the underlying differentiator that leads to one company running smoothly and growing like crazy while a similar company flounders under the pressure of a steady-stream of issues and challenges?
It boils down to:
- WHAT people do
- The WAY they do what they are doing
- The way they are TRAINED to do what they are doing
- How CONSISTENTLY they do what they are doing
- How often they are held ACCOUNTABLE
If any of those four areas are left up to chance, then put on your fire-fighting hat and get ready to deal with the problems that are inevitably going to pop up (at the expense of working on higher-value tasks and projects).
Companies that run like well-oiled machines don’t leave this up to chance – they figure out the best way for things to happen and they they make sure everyone does it that way. If they discover a better way, they upgrade and communicate the new process to everyone involved.
Now, if your business is suffering from any of the nine time-thieves listed above, then what you might notice if you were to pull back and get some perspective is that you probably have some systemic issues that need be addressed. Fixing the system is critical if you hope to start spending more time executing the high-value tasks and completing the high-value projects that are really going to benefit your business.
But that’s often easier said than done…
If you’re busy fighting fires in your business, you may be so immersed in putting out the fires themselves that you haven’t taken the time to take a step back and determine what’s causing all of those fires to spring up in the first place. It’s like running around from one person to the next with a box of BandAids® without determining and eliminating what’s causing the cuts in the first place because you simply don’t have time to look.
The Solution Is Worth The Time Required
Let me assure you that it’s worth the time. Using our BandAid® analogy, what would happen if you could eliminate the very thing that was causing the need for you to run around in the first place? How much of your time would you get back? What could you do with that time that would propel your company forward?
Let me give you an operational example:
When I was working with one commercial real estate company, it took 4-6 hours to create all of the documentation required to do a deal and pay the agent responsible. That was four hours that the agent could have been spending doing additional deals with each deal representing a substantial amount of revenue for the company.
Nobody had taken the time to step back and ask themselves if there was a better way to process all of those documents.
I spent a few days getting it dialed in, but the improved system I put in place cut the time from a 4 hour minimum to just 15 minutes.
Those two days invested to create a solution to the root cause of the problem were well worth it when we multiplied the three hours and 45 minute time savings against every agent in the company and against the number of deals they were each doing.
Just one agent doing 5 deals in a month saved 18 hours and 45 minutes – that’s more than two additional days that were then repurposed to do additional deals (which is where the real value was created).
You can see that no matter how busy you may be right now, it’s more than likely well worth the time to take a step back and examine the way you’re doing things in your company and how they can be done to allow yourself and your employees to spend far more time working on what’s really important instead of being bogged down by what’s simply urgent.
As the saying goes, sometimes you need to go slow if you want to go fast.