What if there were a just a few questions you could ask yourself every day that—if you asked and answered them every day—could save you massive amounts of time. If that were so, would you want to know what those five questions were/are? Well, if you would, keep reading.
As the owner or CEO or leader of your business (or organization), you know that your ability to manage your time is key to you being able to lead your company to growth. If you manage your time well, you know you have the time and capacity to focus on those key strategic issues that can drive growth. If you don’t, you can’t. It all comes down to your ability to manage your time well.
So, if you want to hard wire your business for growth, you’ll want to make sure you ask these five questions all the time, every day, about everything—every time you’re considering doing something (i.e. a task).
1. “Where’s the profit in this?”
If we’re honest, we all waste time every day (and usually the same way). What if, before you began that next task that wastes time you were to ask yourself this question, “Where’s the profit in this?” would it make a difference?
In other words, if before you spent the next 30+ minutes reading random websites (news, entertainment, industry websites, etc.), you simply asked this question, would it make a difference? Or if you asked it before you checked your fantasy football league stats or stock market updates or web stats, would it make a difference? Or if you asked it before you opened up your email and got sucked into an hour of responding to email threads, would it make a difference? I hope so!
The simple question of, “Where’s the profit in this?” reminds you and me that our job is not to fill our time with activity/busy-ness, but to generate profit. Simply by asking, “Where’s the profit in this?” we can automatically reorient our thinking to the big picture and avoid getting caught up in the little stuff that doesn’t contribute to profit.
Note: If you don’t like the word “profit,” there are plenty of derivative questions like, “Will this help advance my organization?” Or, “Will this help me grow my business?” The point is not the wording, but the sentiment. Anything that doesn’t contribute to profit or growing your business or accelerating your cause should be moved down the list. You and I only have so much time, and we need to be ruthless about choosing only those tasks that add value (which means, “So long Angry Birds!” 🙂
Question #1: “Where’s the profit in this?”
2. “Who else could do this?”
This is one of my favorite leadership questions. I’ve never understood leaders who want to keep holding on to things. To me, one of the goals of leadership is giving away as much as possible from your plate. There’s way too much on it already. And there’s no way you can get to the next level doing what you’re currently doing. The only way to get around that is to keep giving stuff away.
If you’re serious about wanting to grow your business or organization, then you need to ask this question every day, about every task. “Who else can do this?”
Next week, I’ll be launching a new product called “Delegation Mastery” to help you master this concept, but even if you’re not a master delegator, you should still be asking this question all the time. In fact, before you leave the office today, make sure you give something away to someone else (Note: you get extra points if you give away something that you really enjoy doing!).
Question #2: “Who else can do this?”
3. “Am I choosing to do this task to avoid doing something else?”
Hey, we’re all human. And avoiding pain is a normal human response. However, avoidance doesn’t solve problems, it only exacerbates them. Avoiding making a follow-up call to a lead may not be your favorite task, but avoiding it doesn’t help your sales. Avoiding confronting an employee about a poor customer interaction doesn’t help the employee, your company or the disgruntled customer.
Avoiding filling out financial or legal forms may not be your idea of a picnic, but avoiding them doesn’t help. Likewise, avoiding working on your strategic plan doesn’t advance your company. Rather, it hinders its progress.
Every day most of us make small decisions to avoid doing those things that we know we ought to be doing but really don’t want to do—even though we know that if we did them, they would help us get what we really want. So, let’s turn that around by continually asking ourselves,
Question #3: “Am I choosing to do this task to avoid doing something else?”
4. “Does this task really need to be done?”
If we’re honest, there are probably several tasks we’ve been doing for years that if we stopped doing them no one would notice! Chances are there are meetings that if you cancelled them, most of the attendees would be happy. There are reports or forms or numbers you’re filling out that if you stopped, no one would notice (and probably wouldn’t make a difference).
Unless you’re leading a new organization, most organizations carry forms/meetings/structures etc. from a previous stage of life into the next (and the next and the next and the next). So, if you want to make the most of your time, get in the habit of continually questioning everything by asking,
Question #4: “Does this really need to be done?”
5. “How long do I think this should take?” (Followed by, “And can I beat that?”)
When I observe leaders, most of them dig into tasks without ever asking, “How long do I think this should take?” For example, they’ll sit down to write a letter and start writing. Now, you and I both know Parkinson’s law which states that, “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” So, if you sit down to write a letter and the time is open ended, how long do you think it’ll take?
On the other hand, if you said, “I have 30 minutes to write this letter,” how long do you think it would take to complete it? Exactly. Thirty minutes or less. When I mention this to leaders their typical gesture is one of those, “Duh! I know that!” kinds of responses. However, the reality is that I’ve found very few leaders who do this.
In fact, for you, did you make a list today? Did you write down how long you thought each task would take you? If not, start here. Take the remaining tasks you have allocated for today and write down how long you think they’ll take you to complete. If you just did that, you’d increase the amount of work you’d get done—every day.
But, if you want to take this to the next step, once you have a number ask, “And can I beat it?” Remember the old game, “Name that tune?” Well, in this case, do something similar. Name how fast you think you can successfully complete a task in. Make it a challenge. “I can get that letter out in half the time (i.e. 15 minutes).
Question #5: “How long do I think this should take? And can I beat that?”
So, how are you doing? If you asked these five questions every day, don’t you think they’d have a profound affect on your time management. And, by doing so, don’t you think they’d have a significant effect on your ability to lead and grow your business (or organization)?
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you have any other questions you like to ask yourself to improve your time management, make sure you share them in the comments section below! We’d love to learn from you!!