By Patty DeDominic
COO & Chief Catalyst
Managing your time is difficult enough while employed at someone else’s company; doing so while growing your own business is a completely different ballgame. On any given day, a combination of distractions can arise from technology, managing employees, and minor but time-consuming challenges. Adding the invaluable time it takes to strategize and implement your main projects and priorities, it’s rare to find a business owner with time to kill, let alone enough time to begin with.
At Maui Mastermind, we believe in the power of 1440. There are 1,440 minutes each day, regardless of if you’re a Fortune 500 CEO or an unpaid intern. Business owners who want to scale their companies can’t afford—figuratively and literally—to let any of these precious minutes go to waste. To better manage one’s time and keep your life balanced, our Maui coaches recommend completing the following steps:
1. For one day, document every half hour what you are doing (junk mail, an important phone call, refilling coffee, responding to a vendor inquiry, etc.).
2. After the day ends, review your records and label each action as an A, B, C or D-level activity.
- A-level activities are what generate more than 50% of your total results; they take the highest priority and are imperative to your company’s success. Examples of A-level activities could be presenting to a large conference or finalizing a business partnership.
- B-level activities are those that aren’t as urgent or monumental as A-level activities, but still generate a large percent of your company’s results and are essential to growth. Examples of B-level activities could be coaching your management team or reviewing your company’s quarterly progress.
- C-level activities produce roughly 80% of your business’s results and are typically more everyday tasks, such as delegating to your assistant or sending out an email to your executive team with important information.
- D-level activities are unleveraged, wasteful activities that only yield about 20% of your company’s total return, such as scanning documents or setting up phone meetings.
Keep in mind that one person’s A-level activities could be another person’s D-level activities, and that an activity can start out as an “A” and end up as a “D.”
3. Once you’ve identified your A, B, C and D-level activities, count up how many hours of your time are spent completing D-level activities. There are probably more than you think! Some activities are unavoidable (i.e. sleeping), but most aren’t.
4. Use what we call The Four D’s to identify and eliminate D-level activities from your daily life:
- Delete it. Some activities don’t need to be done at all. Look at the item and ask yourself if the consequences for not doing it outweigh the time-saving benefits.
- Delegate it. Does the task need to be done, but not specifically by you? Hand it off to your assistant, another staff member or a vendor. Delegating these tasks free up more time for you to focus on activities that require your specific expertise and leadership.
- Defer it. Maybe the task needs to be done by you, but it doesn’t have to be completed right away. Delaying an action can be the optimum choice at times.
- Design it out. If there is a recurring D-level activity that is unavoidable, consider revising the system to prevent it from happening again. Designing out a recurring activity enables and empowers others to complete it instead and decreases reliance on you.
Now, it’s time to upgrade your work and shift your focus from D-level to A- and B-level activities. Once you’ve determined how to erase D-level activities from your daily life, you can focus on the more important tasks at hand and enjoy more of your 1440.
Maui Mastermind Chief Catalyst and COO Patty DeDominic is an accomplished entrepreneur who was named CEO of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal, inducted into the Women’s Business Owners Hall of Fame, is the former Chairperson of the Foundation for SCORE, and a former President of the National Association of Women Business Owners. In 1991 DeDominic acquired CT Engineering and grew it, and her other company PDQCAREERS, into one of California’s top employers with a staff over over 600 people across 30 states. In 2006, she sold her businesses to a privately held firm that boasts over one billion dollars in annual sales. Download a free copy of Maui Mastermind’s bestselling book, “Build a Business, Not a Job!”, at http://mauimastermind.com/free-business-building-tools/free-book/.