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Edition 144 – Productivity Killers

For over 30 years, I’ve worked with and alongside a wide variety of family businesses. For almost that entire time, I’ve never heard anyone say “I’ve got plenty of free time on my hands” if their business is profitable, successful and growing.

Most family business owners and managers are run off their feet. At the end of the day, there can, at times, be a sense of “I’ve achieved nothing that I set out to do today”, even though said individual has been flat strap for the entire work day.

In my opinion, there is a single reason for why the productivity of family business owners and managers takes a beating on a daily basis. Most people merely surrender control of their own time to those around them and in the process, consistently fall behind.

If this sounds like you and you’d like to take back control of your time, try some of these gems that have worked for me:

  1. Turn off the emails – email pop ups are a major distraction. You can’t get a run at your set tasks if you respond to each email as it comes in. Turn off the emails instead and devote blocks of time throughout the day to responding. Amazingly, I find returning emails in a block is usually quicker, because they are briefer.
  2. Set appointments for phone calls – ever played telephone tag with someone all day. Rather than keep ringing back and forth, why not drop an email or send a text suggesting 3 alternate times and dates for a telephone appointment?
  3. Stop staff interruptions at the door – if you have staff that treat your office like a freeway and are forever asking questions, use this process in future which is designed to make them stop and think before coming to you. Ask them:
    1. What is your issue, in 30 seconds?
    2. How does it impact you?
    3. What are two possible solutions?
    4. What is your one recommendation?
  1. Block out time in your diary to get on with your own work – unless you do, you only have before 8am or after 5pm to get on with the work that you need to do yourself.
  2. Cut meeting times in half – if you have a 2 hour monthly management meeting, ask yourself, how can you cut it down to an hour. Too often in meetings, people dribble on because they want to be heard – not because they have anything to contribute.
  3. Can this wait? – most family business owners and managers allow people to suck up their day and tell them about stuff that is nothing to do with the business. I get that you need to maintain good relationships with your staff – however, if you’re hanging around late each night to catch up on your day, you need to ask yourself who have been the unnecessary time thieves that day.
  4. Turn off emails and phones in meetings – I’ve been in plenty of meetings in the past where people take phone calls or check emails during the middle of the meeting. Not only does this drag out the length of the meeting, it also disrupts the flow. The fact that it is disrespectful to the time of all other participants merely goes without saying.

This Week’s Tip

To take back control of your time, you need to get bold and, potentially, upset a few people by dictating your own terms. Remember, it is your time to give, not their’s to take.