27 Sep

Why you need to prioritise your goals

A few years ago I wanted to shed a few kilos, and get fit for a cycling holiday. Piece of pie I thought. I would be incredibly disciplined, focus on both goals and pull this off in no time. Unfortunately, reality hit when my dietician at the time informed me that I should be prioritising. Lose weight or get fit, which one would I like to achieve first?

This principle can be applied to business too. Think about your main business goals. Have you prioritized them or are you trying to provide equal focus and attention on all of them at the same time?

The problem with not prioritising is that there is a risk of objectives clashing with each other. This could result in time being wasted in decision making, internal conflict, employees getting frustrated or confused and you land up not achieving anything.

Say you have selected four or five main objectives for the year, and increasing sales and product innovation are two of them. Before drawing up your action plans you should confirm how your resources will be split up to achieve these objectives. You likely have funding constraints and therefore resources must be allocated strategically. So should you focus on increasing your sales first, or will you place the focus on research and development for product innovation?

If you decide that innovation is your first focus, you will acknowledge that sales growth will need to come in at second place. Why? Your resources, such as money, time and people will be directed to innovation and development. Not to say that sales growth is not important, but by clarifying which objectives take priority and therefore the bulk of the resources, it ensures that everyone is reading off the same page. This in turn allows for your team to have laser focused attention for the selected timeframe, which saves time, money and relationships.

Define your objectives, clarify their importance, develop your action plans and assign your resources.

01 Mar

Do things right the first time

Recently I was asked what my best tip or advice would be around time management. How can one run a business and be effective in managing their time?

There is not just one answer, since it depends on where you are in your business, what systems and processes are in place and how many resources you have.

There are the general tips of prioritising your tasks, delegating and building micro-goals into your routine, but the one piece of advice that really stands out for me is the following in the form of an analogy.

In order to build a strong house, which will withstand all weather conditions you naturally begin by building a strong foundation. Once the foundation has been built you then start with the framework and from there you fill in the detail. I’m no builder, but even to me it makes sense. Building a strong foundation and then moving systematically through and completing one project after the other, makes for good building sense.

So, relating this to business, if you want to spend your time wisely and make sure your business can withstand all “weather conditions”, make sure you have a strong foundation in the business. This would include having the right people in your business, the correct systems and processes, defining an accurate target market and being clear on your product or service offering. Spend time in the very beginning to get these elements right would be building your foundation and framework and then actively put time aside every quarter to review your progress.

Every new project you initiate in your business, from innovation and developing new products and services to on-boarding new employees, make sure the foundations are strong and the support network or framework is in place. Having to re-visit failed projects due to lack of planning and preparation can be incredibly expensive, demotivating, stressful and a complete time waster.

Unfortunately many business owners waste so much time running around in reactive mode putting out fires  all day, because the initial foundations and business framework are not in place or are incredibly weak. Having a fancy bathroom or walk-in cupboards can be great, but if the walls of the house are crumbling down, a stand-alone victorian bath can seem pretty useless.

Good time management is about doing the right thing first and making sure you don’t need to keep going back to patch up the errors.

12 Nov

Are your tasks rocks, stones or sand?

Many of us are faced with having far too many tasks on our to-do lists. To combat this feeling we either launch ourselves into overdrive and start chasing our tails to get everything done or we succumb and give up, completing nothing.

If you have experienced this feeling I suggest you the read the following story…

An American professor was invited into a corporation to teach a team of top executives how to better manage their time. Because they were busy, they required the training to take a maximum of 60 minutes. The professor decided to be as brief as possible.

He started his lecture with a demonstration. He opened a large box full of grey stones as big as a fist. He put them one after another into the empty pot. When the pot looked full he asked the executives:

“Do you think the pot is full?” “Yes”, they replied.

“Really?” The professor smiled, “let’s have a look”. And he opened a smaller box containing small white stones and started putting them into the pot. They filled the holes in between the grey stones without any problems. The professor repeated his question: “Is the pot full now?”

“Probably not,” one of the managers replied. The professor nodded and opened a third box containing sand which he started to pour into the pot with grey and white stones. When the demonstration was complete he asked his audience:

“What have you learnt from this experiment, ladies and gentlemen?”

One manager says “Even if our diaries look full, we can still fit in some additional activities.” But the professor did not agree.

“No, this experiment demonstrated something else – if we had started with sand we would not be able to fit everything in. You must always start with the most important and heaviest things.”

So taking the professor’s advice consider the following:

  1. Write down your tasks, jobs and duties for the upcoming week or month.
  2. Take each item and consider how important and heavy it is. These questions might help you.
    • What would the consequences be if I did not complete this task?
    • How does this task affect the end goal?
    • What will I achieve if I complete this task?
    • Could someone else be completing this task?
    • Why, would this task be seen as more important than the next task? (Provide 3 valid reasons)
  3. If it is a rock, number it 1. If it’s a stone it gets a 2 and if it’s sand it would fall into the 3 category.
  4. By slotting your tasks into categories you are now able to priorities your tasks.

With the above in mind try to limit yourself to 3 rocks, 3 stones and 3 sand tasks a week.