Take Time to Think
Hyper-productive on all the wrong tasks!
As a fellow small business owner, I feel the constant pressure of never-ending tasks and the need to be hyper-productive. There are always emails to respond to, processes to improve, contracts to be drawn up, and bills and invoices to be sent. However, the more I work with small businesses, I am realizing the importance of taking time for personal and business reflection. I believe that if business owners, managers, and employees spent as much time thinking about the work that they were doing, how it fit in to the larger mission, and why they were going to be doing certain tasks, as they did performing those tasks – people would be happier, more work would get done, and businesses would thrive!
Minimize distractions by turning off electronics and pulling out a pen and notebook
Small business owners are too busy! No one could say an owner is lazy, but do you ask yourself why are you responding to that email? Do you ever get to the end of the day or meeting and wonder what you accomplished? As with any problem, you first need to recognize it as such. Blocking off time to specific NOT DO tasks can seem counter-intuitive or even a waste, but gaining a clear understanding of your priorities can be invaluable as you set the course for your business. It’s not about how much you can get done in a 24 hour period, but rather what individual tasks will provide the most return for the time that you are putting in.
This principle is clearly demonstrated with a navigational compass reading. Even being off by one degree can put you miles off target down the road.
“If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a no.”
– Derick Sivers
Start Thinking and Dream!
In encouraging us all to “take time,” I’m suggesting blocking off an hour or more to just sit and allow your mind to process. Experiment with the length and frequency that you do this. I often need to do this daily to refocus, but your needs may be different. During this time I minimize distractions by turning off my phone, turning off my computer, and pulling out a pen and notebook. Sometimes, just “mind-dumping” different tasks and duties on a blank page helps to get the process started, but ultimately just allowing myself to quiet down and think, gives my brain a way to break the response and reactive cycle and think outside my current box.
In order for you to prioritize, you must know the overall business objectives, both short and long term. If you are a business owner or manager, every one of your coworkers/employees should know their role and how they are contributing to achieving the business objectives.
Think about what you are working on. Does it align with your goals, both personal and from a business perspective? Are you doing what you actually want to do? As Derek Sivers says, “If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a no.”
Next, think about where your current tasks should fall in your list of priorities. What impact will this have one day, one week, and ten years down the road?
Lastly, consider how you are completing your most important tasks. Is there a better way, a person more qualified, or more efficient time for these specific tasks?
95% of the time, new tasks and responses can wait at least a few hours
Execute and Re-evaluate
Only once you have taken time to think and prioritize, should you jump in and knock out daily tasks. I guarantee you will easily be able to work faster, feel better, and be more productive.
Stay focused during these these work sessions! Multitasking is just a socially acceptable term for being distracted. Don’t allow yourself to be taken off course by new emails coming in or social media notifications. Statistics show that it takes about 23 minutes to become focused, but only a few seconds to lose that focus.
Take the lessons learned for your last No Tasks session and iterate. Patterns will start to form and these micro-directional changes will be seen throughout your business. Encourage your team to also take time. It will change you business, I know it has changed the way I work and I attribute a lot of Pier5’s growth and success to using this method.
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