The holiday season is in full swing and that usually means family; mine is visiting this weekend! As I worked on cleaning up all the half done projects around my house (half wrapped Christmas presents included) I was thinking about our businesses. We do the same thing in our businesses, don’t we? Work on a few dozen things at once and only really “clean house” when there’s a deadline.
If you’ve used a launch date or conference as an opportunity to push yourself to complete half finished tasks, it’s no different than me inviting over friends for dinner so I will finally clean the living room.
I have a theory about why we procrastinate – even when we know the task is important – and here it is:
If you don’t L.O.V.E. the task it’s going to linger like a bad habit. As I shift to be more productive with my time and effective in my business I have four basic criteria to evaluate.
L – Leverage
Would you spend $1 to save $100? How about investing $1,000 to earn $20,000? While most people will say yes enthusiastically, there is a limit we each have. How much time, energy and money we’ll invest to get a return and that number is impacted by how quickly we’ll see results, if there’s a guarantee, and how much we desire that outcome.
When I’m using this to evaluate a task I have to ask if I am leveraging my time, energy and money effectively. Sometimes that means paying for coaching so I shortcut my learning by years. Other times I’ll spend time researching and investigating before making a decision.
Once you realize that most time is wasted and doesn’t produce any returns or such low returns that it’s not worth the effort, you’ll gravitate toward the tasks that help you achieve your goals quicker because they best leverage your efforts.
O – Overhead
Just like my vacuuming and dusting around the house, there are a lot of “maintenance” tasks we do in our lives and businesses. Like moderating blog comments, sending out social media posts, article marketing, invoicing, writing status updates for clients or paying the bills.
So many things just have to get done but don’t directly bring income to your business. These overhead tasks are prime opportunities to outsource once you create a system (which will leverage your time) and hire some help. And it’s not just limited to your business life – what would your personal to do list look like if you hired a local teen or a college student on Winter Break to scan your family photos, do your laundry, mow the lawn or clear snow from your driveway? Would you have more energy and time to give to building your business and enjoying time with your family?
V – Value
Does this task bring me more value to make the time I’m investing worthwhile? You probably use this criteria unconsciously all the time when buying products. Is the delivery pizza worth $15 or should I make my own? Do I want to pay $997 to learn Secrets of Successful Teleseminars if my business model doesn’t include teleseminars? How much more value will a $400 webcam bring over a $150 one?
To shift and use this criteria in your time and services you’ll want to evaluate the short and long term impact of your task.
Yes, I’ll get on the phone with a colleague, potential joint venture partner or someone who wants to work with me privately. In each of those tasks I can directly track and measure results.
No, I’m not going to attend every free call offer, read every eBook or join every LinkedIn networking group. I may do some of these tasks if they leverage my time and bring value but not every one.
Sometimes you’ll need to put a lot into a task knowing that it will provide value to your clients later such as developing a new service offer or product. And other times you may need to face the truth that some tasks you thought were important bring no value to you or your clients and should be discontinued.
E – Enjoy
My final criteria goes straight to the heart of why I’m in business, why you’re in business. Do you honestly love working with your clients and serving your community? Is it enjoyable or simply tolerable?
I love coaching my clients and co-creating the systems that will serve their businesses. I’ll sign on for that all day every day. But I don’t love figuring my taxes, filling out forms that read like a game of BINGO and writing checks to Uncle Sam. So I have an accountant for that. I enjoy taking a program or product launch and developing the milestones, action steps and accountability to ensure it’s a success. I don’t really enjoy changing the oil on my car, although I know how, so I pay someone to do it for me.
Think back to that list of tasks which you’ve been meaning to do for ages and find the items that don’t seem to ever graduate from your to do list. Are they things that leverage your time, are not just business overhead, add value to your business and to your clients and do you actually enjoy them? If you can’t answer yes then you have a great start to begin creating systems so you can successfully outsource and use your time to focus on the right tasks to grow your business and bring more value to the market.