One thing that successful businesses have in common with great athletes is focus. You have to develop intense, unapologetic focus on your plan of action in order to achieve the results you are looking for. Focus means eliminating the distractions that pull you off the path to your desired future. Most people underestimate the power of focus. But focus empowers you. You can have a great vision and a plan of action yet still not achieve what you want if you don’t have focus.
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The 80/20 Rule
A critical aspect of focus is putting the 80/20 rule to use. You only have so much time, you only have so much energy, and you only have so much money, so what’s the highest and best use of my time, energy, and money? Generally speaking, 20 percent of your activities generate 80 percent of the results. Time, energy, and money are limited resources. How can you focus those resources to achieve your goals?
I have found that many business owners are distracted by all the stimulus and social media that exists these days. We’re checking our cell phones, listening to text messages, and doing Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. All that takes us away from being intensely focused on the plan of action that we want to achieve our vision of the future.
Every time you get distracted, it takes 10 to 20 minutes to get refocused, which means you’ve just wasted all of that time, energy, and money on something that’s not the highest and best use of your time. If you can figure out the 20 percent of your activities that generate 80 percent of your results, you can use your time, energy, and money much more effectively. That is intense focus.
What Focus Looks Like
I read a story about Richard Branson that said an organization offered him $100,000 to come and speak at their event. He declined, and they came back and offered $250,000. He declined that as well, so they upped their offer to half a million. When he declined that, they asked what it would take to get him to come and speak. He said that no amount of money could take him away from what he was currently focused on. That’s the kind of focus every business owner needs, because that is what it takes to achieve goals.
One effective tool for achieving focus is blocking off periods of time to be productive. During those periods of time (they can be an hour or two), you should eliminate distractions: turn off your phone, turn off your laptop, turn off all the bells and whistles that bleep at you constantly. If you can learn to do that, you’ll find that in that one or two hours of intense focus you can get two, three, or even four hours’ worth of work done. It’s incredibly empowering.
I also recommend to my clients that they don’t check their email first thing in the morning because email is somebody else’s agenda for you. It’s not your agenda, and it’s not your priorities. When you allow yourself to get sucked into email at the start of the day, it often leads to not accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Block off the first few hours of the day for intense focus on your agenda, and then block off time later in the day to answer phone calls or emails or text messages. You can train your employees to learn to do the same thing. Have them block off time to focus on their priorities that are going to help them achieve their 90-day goals.
Know What Your Time Is Worth
Understanding what your time is worth can make it easier to take these steps. Learn what an hour of your time is actually worth. In other words, if you want to make $75,000 a year, you have to generate $36 an hour worth of value for your clients. That’s $3 every five minutes or $9 every 15 minutes. Think about how much time you’re wasting on social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and those kind of things, and evaluate whether you are spending your time wisely. If you want to make $125,000 a year, you have to produce $60 an hour worth of value for your clients. That’s $5 every five minutes. When you look at it that way, wasting 15 minutes on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or taking 15 minutes longer to get back to work is costly.
Oftentimes I’ll ask clients, “What’s an hour of your time worth?” They’ll tell me, “Oh, $200 an hour.” Then I ask them, “Then why are you doing $15 an hour work? Why are you doing your bookkeeping that’s worth maybe $40 an hour? Why don’t you pay someone to do that?” Knowing what your time is worth and keeping that in the forefront of your mind allows you to focus your time and energy on what will deliver the most return for you.
Are you focused on the 20 percent of your activities that are going to generate 80 percent of the return? What’s an hour of your time worth? Are you generating that much value for your business or for the business you’re working for? Do the math, and let those calculations inform your choices.
For 40 years Gary has been helping businesses owners understand the value of their time and focus on activities that lead to results. Give Gary a call at 503-312-3145 for more information.