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Edition 162 – Time Drift

Early on in 2019, there’s a worrying trend that I’ve identified with a number of the family business owners I engage with. It’s the evidence of time drift.

In early February, one client admitted to me that it felt like October. He was struggling to get on top of everything that was on his plate. His feeling is that age old one we’ve all had – where has the day gone and what did I get done today that I wanted to get done?

To help him out, we worked with two tools that I’ve used for ages – the 5 Whys and a Mindmap.

With the 5 Whys, I continued to ask the question “why” when he gave me a response to the first question. The concept is, you ask “why” 5 times (on average) and you’ll usually get to the root cause of the issue at the 5th “why”.

Once we’d arrived at the root cause, we then mindmapped those issues to come up with solutions that he could instantly put into place in business.

For this client, and for a number of others, the time drift is raising it’s head in some interesting areas.

  1. Email ping-pong – particularly if you are dealing with large corporate contacts or clients.
  2. Disorganised clients – who give the impression they’re ready to go and you should drop everything – but instead, don’t even have sign off on the concept.
  3. Internal interruptions – staff asking questions they know the answer to, but are too lazy to think, or make affirmation statements (e.g just to let you know, we shipped that order) that you don’t need to know about because it’s part of their job.
  4. Phone calls that lack purpose and a clear next step.
  5. An inability (or unwillingness) to block out time and focus on tasks, uninterrupted. If you have a tender to put together, your best thinking doesn’t necessarily happen at 10pm or 4am.
  6. Putting off the tasks that you really don’t want to do – which drags it out and continues the thought of dread throughout the day.

Here’s some simple tips if this feels like you.

  1. Keep a time log for the week – where are you spending your time and where are the big time sinks in your day?
  2. Switch off the emails and the phones.
  3. Figure out what is important and what is immediate.
  4. Stop doing things that those around you are more than capable of doing.
  5. Block out time to work on a project – 45 minute blocks work well, allowing you 15 minutes to clear some emails and calls, then work on the next block.

Try these tips. I have. I’m not perfect and I’ve also noticed time drift early in 2019. Amazing how effective my own advice can be for myself.