We’ve all wished that there were more hours in a day to get things done. With 2016 now well under way, wouldn’t it be great to actually have more time to get done what we want to get done, particularly the leftovers from 2015? Today I will share with you an insight I learned during an EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) event where Rory Vaden, author of Procrastinate on Purpose taught us a way to actually multiply our time.
If you are a student of time management, you will remember the four quadrants proposed by Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
- Important/Not Urgent
- Not Important/Urgent
- Not Important/Not Urgent
The main idea being to identify and prioritize what is important and not get distracted by urgent yet not important tasks. Well, Vaden adds a third dimension, that of significance, i.e. how long will it matter? According to Vaden, the traditional methods of prioritizing just enable us to more efficiently use the existing blocks of time. However, when making the significance calculation, Vaden states that we can realize that there are things we can do today that will actually make us more productive in the future. His big idea actually enables us to multiply our time.
Vaden’s framework involves what he calls the Focus Funnel, where he shows us we can actually give ourselves emotional permission to procrastinate on purpose. Here’s an overview of how it works:
- Eliminate: In this stage, we are encouraged to take an inventory of all the things we do, and give ourselves permission to stop doing certain unproductive things or to ignore them until they are no longer important. One of the other things Vaden mentioned that really hit home for me, was giving myself permission to say, “No,” when someone asks me to do something that is really not important for me to be doing or something that I really don’t want to do. I have had trouble saying, “No,” when asked to work on projects for people, but an EO friend of mine told me to say, “Sorry, I just don’t have the bandwidth for that right now.” In line with Vaden’s idea, my friend also thinks we don’t need to explain why we say, “No.” So give yourself permission to ignore, say, “No,” and eliminate things that are eating up your valuable time.
- Automate: In this stage, we are encouraged to give ourselves permission to invest some time and money now to save ourselves time in the future. Oftentimes people say they can’t afford to invest in automation, but Vaden’s view is that your time is valuable, because any time we spend doing one thing is time we don’t have to do another. So in theory, anything that wastes our time, also wastes our money. At One Horn, automation has been a great time multiplier for me. Luckily I have my husband/business partner, Louis, who kept automating the time-consuming but necessary tasks to make our back office so efficient we have the capacity to grow our business tenfold without needing to add office staff. This is how I got rid of so many menial tasks to free myself up for growing our business. Through our other company, we are offering our back office services to carriers to help them multiply their time by charging a per invoice fee to do their billing. I do recommend delving more into the idea of automation by reading his book, but anything you can automate can certainly multiply your time.
- Delegate: In this stage we are encouraged to find someone else to do things that we are doing, but that is not the best use of our own time. People often don’t delegate because they think they can do a better job than the person to whom they are delegating. But if we give ourselves permission to accept that the person might not do it the way we do it, but if the result is almost as good, we are again multiplying our time investing a couple hours training someone to save us even 15 minutes per day for the rest of the year.
- Procrastinate on Purpose: In this stage, we are encouraged to actively decide to do things when they need to be done to avoid the cost of changes that happen. By adopting this idea, we are not procrastinating because we don’t feel like doing something, we are giving ourselves permission to procrastinate because now is not the right time, since things might change. We often do things well in advance than when they are due to make ourselves feel good. Sometimes we then have to redo them, because circumstances have changed. If only we had waited, we would have saved the time of the redo. Another good example is to identify tasks you can do in batches, for example, I pay my bills every Thursday, vs. going into QuickBooks every time I get a bill and paying it at that moment. Then I file the paid items all at once, vs. one at a time. Reading and responding to emails two to three time a day vs. every time we receive the tempting notification is also a good example of how we can procrastinate on purpose. Check out the book for a more thorough explanation of this concept.
- Concentrate: In this stage, if we have properly used Vaden’s Focus Funnel, we know the items we are working on are significant and are the best use of our time. I have a note on my bulletin board that reads, “Focus … What is the most valuable use of my time right now?” I created this note after reading Brian Tracy’s “Eat that Frog.” By first using Vaden’s Focus Funnel, I can now be certain the tasks that have made it through are truly the most valuable use of my time. I changed my note to read, “Focus … What is the most significant use of my time right now?” to truly ensure I have gone through the other steps of the Focus Funnel.
It takes a good amount of discipline to put Vaden’s ideas into practice, but I truly believe we can all reap the rewards of creating more time to do what we really want to do and to have more balance in our lives by trying this.
Check out Vaden’s book for a more in-depth explanation of the concepts I’ve touched upon. I was truly impressed by his presentation.
President and CEO
One Horn Transportation