Time is your most valuable asset
Do you know exactly where it’s going?
Do you know how much of your time is spent on the activities that directly produce the results you want for your business?
Are you aware of how may hours are otherwise consumed by dealing with vendors, meetings, paperwork, email and business drama?
If you are like I was, you don’t and it’s costing you.
Many entrepreneurs simply don’t understand what their time and productivity means to their business.
Even though you’re busy as all get out, you may be misaligned, not doing exactly what you should be doing to generate the highest profits for the business.
The most successful entrepreneurs know that time is their most precious asset and will do anything and everything to protect it.
And so should you.
“Four Quadrants of Time” framework
The Four Quadrants of Time is a framework I devised to help me get clear and stay focused on producing results for my business. The central idea is to increase the time spent working on those activities that create the most profit and thereby greatest success for your business.
Accomplish Time or direct profit producing tasks are different for every business, but to paint with a broad brush, those tasks directly related to marketing, sales, product development and customer retention are profit producers.
Think of it as anything that directly brings $$$ in the door. And you know that profits are the number one priority in your business, because without them your company will shrivel and die.
Your entire day should be designed so you’re spending as much time as possible producing high quality, valuable results for your business.
Now you may be thinking why shouldn’t I spend all of my time in this quadrant? Why just 33%?
Well, realistically it’s very hard to spend 50% or more of your time accomplishing your most high value work and frankly you’d burn out.
To perform at the optimum level with ultimate concentration and focus you need to spend ample time in the third quadrant – Break Time.
Activity Time is work you must do, but it may not directly generate profits.
It is work that is legitimately important to your business results, but not necessary for you to do the work personally.
It’s the work that you ultimately need to delegate or outsource but have not yet figured out how to do that because of hiring issues, funding issues, etc…
Activity Time is also time spent doing administrative tasks that are necessary for your business to run. Such as responding to non-emergency emails or phone calls, reviewing metrics, meetings with vendors, etc…
Now you may disagree with me as to what work falls into accomplish time or activity time and that’s fine.
Only you know what’s most important to make your business successful.
Just make sure that you don’t convince yourself that the task you’re working on is truly profit producing when it isn’t (Getting sucked into email for hours on end is not going to produce profits).
This is incredibly valuable time where you completely disconnect from your work for a period to allow your mind and body time to recover and rest.
Break Time can be your lunch (away from your desk), 5 -10 minute breaks to go for a walk outside, going to the gym for a quick mid-day workout, etc…
Break Time is any dedicated time spent not focusing your mind on your work.
This is mental and physical rejuvenation time.
This is time where you recharge, refresh and tap into your subconscious and creative powers, so you can absolutely focus and crush it when it’s time to work.
Many business owners will ignore taking breaks throughout the day, choosing instead to push until their task is completed. Studies show that over time repetitive and prolonged work periods without breaks degrade product quality. A lower quality product is less valuable. And not delivering value to your customers usually results in less business and less profits.
You don’t want that. So force yourself to take a break.
This is time (during your workday) that you spend “taking a break”, when really it’s screwing off, procrastinating, chit-chatting, scrolling through Facebook and allowing your distractions to take hold.
Wasted Time often happens when you don’t time your breaks and allow them to spill over or when you allow a distraction such as an email alert to suck you in or when a friend wants to stop by and say “Hi” .
During your workday you want to spend as little time here as possible.
I must govern the clock, not to be governed by it – Golda Meir
You must measure your time
If you’re ready to really take control of your time, then let’s get down to business and start measuring where it’s going.
Once I was crystal clear about where my time was actually spent, I used discipline and shifted my behaviors and habits to focus more on the accomplish time that directly moved my business forward.
Here is the Essential Tool and method I use to track my time.
Toggl is a FREE time tracking and reporting application. You enter the task you are working on, then hit the start timer and go. When you’re done with that task, hit stop and you are ready to enter in the next task. Toggl automatically calculates how long you worked on the task. There is an online version, desktop and iPhone application.
Toggl gives you the ability to assign time to projects and create time tracking tags. This is the simplest way I’ve found to track time and to give it meaning so you can process the data.
From the minute you start work until you are done you are going to input your time into toggl with projects and tags to help you properly track and measure how your time is spent.
What I recommend is this:
- Go to toggl.com and create your free account.
- List out the projects you’re currently working on and create these in toggl.
- Create four tags (Accomplish, Activity, Break and Wasted time).
- Track every minute of your work day and assign your task to a project and tag it.
- At the end of your workday, go to the toggl reporting tool and create a report based on each tag.
- Put these numbers into a spreadsheet and calculate the percentage time spent in each category. This is your baseline.
- You need to determine your ideal times and percentages to shoot for, these are mine.
- Accomplish time 33%
- Activity time 42%
- Break time 20%
- Wasted time 5%
- Do this for 5 days so you can begin to gain a clear picture of where your time is actually being spent each day.
- BE HONEST! The only way you’re going to own your time is to get honest with yourself.
With realization, the only failure is not taking action to change
I understand that working on accomplish oriented productive tasks 100% of the time is not realistic, but just think…
What if you could boost your accomplish (productivity & profit) time by 10% on a daily basis?
What would a 10 % increase in your productivity mean to your business and to your bottom line?
Your time is your most precious resource
Take real measurements on where your time is spent, then take the Right Actions and start building new habits and routines to force yourself to to spend more time doing productive, profit producing tasks.
Spend more of your working hours on activities that directly impact the profitability of your business.
Put the Four Quadrants of Time into play and you will operate at an Optimal Level and start creating massive results, greater prosperity and more happiness.