At the risk of alienating every fan of RescueTime, Toggl and the Pomodoro Method, I want to make a bold assertion: managing your time has nothing to do with how you do the things you do. Most tips and tools about how to increase productivity focus on maximizing efficiency. And as the owner of your business you couldn’t find a worse way to spend your time.
What you miss while trying to squeeze the most into each day is the actual key to time management and becoming an effective leader—and it has nothing to do with how you do the things you do and everything to do with what you choose not to do. Your ability to exclude is what allows you to not only focus on the things that are most important, but also to gain those hours back in your week for your family and friends. For yourself. For being strategic about your business.
Of course, you can’t sharpen your exclusion skills until you have a clear sense of what is most important. In the EMyth Perspective, we talk about how that sense of what’s important stems from having a clear vision for your business. Knowing where you are today and where you want to be one year from now is your strongest aid in deciding what you should focus on. Because, in truth, there is only one ‘next most important thing’ to put your energy into. And the focus you have on moving strategically from one ‘most important thing’ to another will cascade down through your company. It’s infectious.
For those who prefer some practical tips to get the ball started once you’ve clarified your vision, try these easy steps toward exclusion:
- Shorten every meeting possible. Being crisp and clear in your communication is an artform. Help your team develop their ability to communicate effectively by shortening any meeting you can. Only add back time when you feel your employees have made significant improvements in their communication and you’re dying for more time.
- Find responsibilities to delegate down. It’s a fair assumption to think there is at least one thing you do every week as the owner of your business that someone reporting to you could handle. For many of you, it may be more than one thing. But there’s a powerful result that comes from shifting responsibilities to your employees: you demonstrate confidence in them, you push them to develop beyond their current boundaries, you get them thinking about the business at a level they haven’t contemplated yet, and you find more time to focus on what matters.
- Find meetings to get summarized. What’s better than shorter meetings?Cancelling the whole thing. For any meeting where you are mostly updating each other about what is happening in different departments, consider sharing summary documents instead. Or if you as the CEO typically sit in on all key meetings, find one or two that you can read in digest format—prepared for you by one of your employees.
It will take some time for your employees to get used to the new you—especially if you are the kind of person who almost always says “Yes” or “Sure, I can do that.” But for as jarring as it may be to them, the more they see the results of your clear focus, intention and purpose, the more they will come to respect your exclusions and start to adopt some of their own as well.
Ready for a deeper conversation about exclusions and where you might need to say ‘No’? Schedule some time to talk with an EMyth Coach.