As an entrepreneur and business owner, I struggle to find enough time. I want every hour to count as ten hours. I want to move fast and grow, but I hit the limits of my own time, energy and ability. And even when I get smart about delegating, I tell myself that I don’t have time to slow down and make the handoff.
I always keep a Top5 list of business books for my clients. Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman and Greg Mckeown, has been on the list for a while now and is one of my favorite books on leadership, growth and productivity. I think it’s a favorite because I’ve always been interested in maximizing potential and this book takes it even further. Multipliers is about working and leading in a way that produces results many times greater than your personal potential…like a greenhouse for your efforts!
They talk about things like how the 20th century was about maximizing manual work productivity, but the 21st century needs to do the same for knowledge work. About how some of the greatest contributors in different industries were people who moved from being a genius to a genius-maker – people who identified potential in others and spent their primary energy developing and empowering those people to do what they were meant to do. Leaders whose focus was not to be superior, but for their people to leave interactions feeling smarter than them.
Now…let’s come back to daily reality. That kind of multiplier is a worthy aim and a great goal to work towards, but what about right now? Are there any quicker wins for un-becoming the bottleneck, multiplying your efforts and growing your business?
I’ve found three solutions to this question, and since I’m an optimizer, they are also solutions that you can try without major investment.
Here they are:
Track where you spend your time for a week. At the end of the week, look at the top five categories and ask yourself, “How could I automate this?”
Some tasks might need to be manual or personal, but if not, do a quick search for tools or websites that can do the job for you or ask a few people what tools they know of. This may sound simple, but we often get so used to our normal way of operating that we don’t realize the opportunities for change. Last time I did this, I had to spend a few days setting up the tools/systems, but it saved me 10 hours per week moving forward.
Take another look at that time tracking you did. Do YOU need to do each of those? What would happen if someone else owned some of those items? Personality assessments would even suggest that others can do some of those items better than you. Or maybe you could just delegate the setup and management of the new automation tools/systems you found in the exercise above?
The obvious prerequisite is that you need someone to delegate TO. If you already have help, here is a great tool for delegating effectively. If not, one of the quickest and most flexible solutions is a virtual assistant (especially for help with scheduling, organization, documentation, social media, bookkeeping, copywriting, etc). And a high quality virtual assistant will even bring value to the table that you weren’t seeing yet or that you didn’t have bandwidth to think about.
When I hired a virtual assistant, I saw an immediate 45% productivity gain on my time…and it keeps growing. (BTW – I’m a big fan of BELAY, an incredible company that provides flexible virtual assistants and does all the legwork to find just the right person for the job!)
Do what you do best. Do what only you can do. Operate in your Sweetspot. The biggest impact you can have in your business or in your work is spending the majority of your time doing what you’re uniquely made to do – your individual passions and strengths. Of course, this requires having crystal clarity on what those things are. But once you figure out what that Sweetspot is, you can take concrete steps toward spending 80% of your time there and 20% on the rest.
A simple way to take these steps is to create a 2×2 plot – effort on the x-axis and impact on the y-axis. List out the various activities in your work and just use your gut to plot them on the grid. Then ask yourself which of the low-effort high-impact activities align with your Sweetspot? Even small steps in this direction will yield big results!
So what will you do to help yourself and your business grow in line with your potential? How can you shift into the multiplier mindset? What’s your next step?