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Platinum Activities

In any job a wide variety of activities fill the day, and these different activities bring very different levels of value to the organization. As in so many areas in business, the 80:20 rule is alive and well and living here. All too often, the things on which we spend the most time are not the ones which bring the greatest value to the business.

Pareto's Principle states that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. In the case of Time Management this means that, for most people, 20% of their time is spent on activities that bring 80% of the value they deliver to the business. These are your Platinum Activities - the three to five things you do that bring the greatest value to the business.

Put another way, as much of 80% of your time is spent on things that don't bring maximum value to the business. This is a fertile area for adjustment and improvement and many Time Management systems focus on handling this 80%. The Time Edge approaches it from the opposite direction and focuses instead on increasing the 20% of your time you spend on Platinum Activities.

Identifying your Platinum Activities is the first step in improving your Time Management effectiveness. Only when you have firmly identified them and integrated them into your goals can you start eliminating other, less valuable, activities from your day by reorganizing and delegating. Once you have the goal in mind, the difficult steps in getting rid of inappropriate activities become much easier to take.

There is an exercise to help you identify your Platinum Activities in Appendix 1, and you should go through the following steps to list the three things you do that bring the greatest value to the business:

1. Examine your Frustration List and identify the most important items.

2. List the tasks and activities required in order to complete those items

3. List all the things you do that bring value to the company in the following areas:

· Sales

· Marketing

· Customer retention

· Increasing profitability

· Improving productivity

· Planning – Strategic, Marketing

· Developing New Products and Services

· Identifying New Markets

· Building Equity in the Business

4. Rank the items in order of the value they bring

5. Estimate what percentage of your time you spend each week on that item.

Once you have the list, identify the top items by the value they bring and select the ones that represent 20% of your time. From this list, identify your top three to five and those are your Platinum Activities.


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Time Management Tips

  • When somebody interrupts you when you are busy, don't let them interrupt your train of thought. Ask them to come back and see you at a specific time – you may be surprised that they actually figure out the answer and don't come back to ask you.

  • Everybody has about three hours during the day when they are at their best. Figure out what your "Prime Time" is and then plan your day around it. Make sure that you dedicate that time to focus without interruptions on the activities that are of most value to you.

  • It is all too easy to waste time on phone calls. Keep an egg timer next to the phone to keep track of exactly how long you are talking. It will keep the time you are spending in the forefront of your mind and will help you handle the call more efficiently.

  • Never go to the bank to deposit checks, it is a Time Bandit way below your pay grade, and claiming it is therapeutic and gets you out of the office is deluding yourself. Send somebody else!  Better still, get a check scanning machine...and make sure the bank pays!

  • Organize your office so the door isn't in your immediate line of vision. The big payoff is that people can't appear at your door, hover, catch your eye and distract you. If you make it harder to interrupt you, people may figure out answers themselves rather than asking you.

  • When you have to give out an e-mail address to somebody who's going to send you things you don't want in your inbox, give them a special "junk" e-mail address. Then set up a rule so that everything to that address goes to a folder you review on your timetable.

  • When somebody interrupts you to ask you a question always reply with a question back. Ask them how they would deal with it, and make them think proactively rather than just relying on you. A good technique is to ask: "If I wasn't available today, what would you do?"

  • If your key customers expect you to answer the phone at all times, get an Internet phone line and give them a "VIP" phone number to call. Set it up with a unique ring on your system and you'll know that calls on that line are from your most important customers.

  • Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere. 

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone now as the most dangerously effective of all Time Bandits. Turn off your e mail alert and check your e-mail only four times a it on your schedule not the schedule of the people who are interrupting your more productive work.

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone as the most dangerously effective of all time wasters. The worst thing is the e mail alert that pops up on your computer screen. Don't let other people interrupt you in this way and take back control of your time by turning the alert off

  • When somebody interrupts you while sitting at your desk, stand up. It changes the pace of the interaction and sends a message to the interrupter that they have invaded your time. The more you can send this message, the more effective you will become at protecting your time.

  • When somebody comes to you with an issue they should figure out themselves, don't allow yourself to relieve them of the burden and take it on yourself. Instead of saying "leave it with me" when this happens, say "never delegate upwards" and ask them for their solution.

  • Entrepreneurs wear so many of the hats in their business that many of the tasks they carry out are at a level way below the real value of their time. Are you working below your pay grade by not handing off menial tasks that should be done by others?

  • When you are hiring new employees, ask candidates about their time management abilities. The best employees are those that can prioritize their work and handle interruptions, so be sure to ask relevant questions to probe in those areas so that you hire somebody who has those skills.

  • Email has become a huge time-waster and taking control of your Inbox is becoming more critical than ever. The ideal state is only to have things in your Inbox that are important, urgent or time sensitive, and to put everything else automatically into folders using Rules governing what happens when they come in. I’ve been using Outlook Rules for a number of years to sort specific topics, but I recently came across a new rule that makes a dramatic difference.

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Did you know ?

Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere.