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The Strategic Time Gain

Once you have calculated your Time Opportunity Value the next step in The Time Edge process is to calculate your Strategic Time Gain - the value that you would bring to the business if you were able to increase the amount of time that you spent on Platinum Activities.

When you identified your Platinum Activities, you ranked the activities items in order of the value they bring and then estimated the amount of your time you spend each week on each one. For most people, the amount of time that they spend on Platinum Activities is less than 20% - in many cases a lot less. What would it be worth to your business if you were able to increase the amount of time that you spend on Platinum Activities?

Take the number of hours a week you currently spend on your Platinum Activities  and think about how important they are and the additional time you would like to devote to them. Write down an ambitious, challenging number and don't worry at this point where you will find the time. Let's suppose that you want to increase the amount of time from 15% to 30%: assuming a 40 hour week, that means increasing the number of hours spent on Platinum Activities by six hours a week.

Before you protest that you can't possibly afford that amount of time, let's look at your Strategic Time Gain value if you are able to figure out how to do it. Let's assume that you calculated your Time Opportunity Value at $500 an hour. At that rate, the value to you and your business of those extra six hours would be an additional $3000 a week or $156,000 a year.

Obviously this is a best case number, and it assumes that you are able to spend the additional time working on Platinum Activities. If you fill the time gained on mundane activities that could be done by somebody else (or worse still playing Freecell) you will simply be capturing Greenland and squandering energy and opportunity.

If, on the other hand, you are able to use the time gained to do Platinum Activities at your maximum value, then the rewards are very significant. There are some difficult things that you will need to do to accomplish that, but if you do, the return you get will be out of all proportion to the effort expended.

In the next section we'll look at how you can change the way you Manage Time so you can create the additional time to add value to your business.


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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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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?