Measurement is one of the quickest ways to improve performance.
In my blog post Reflection Improves Our Decision Making, I shared a quote that has heavily influenced my business philosophy.
If I can’t measure it, I’m not going to do it.
Our businesses often become all-consuming.
Too many times, I have gotten caught up in begin busy being busy.
Working far too many hours and accomplishing far too little.
The results of this relentless work-a-day world are predictable.
I get burned out and waste my most precious resource – Time.
At the beginning of July, I had a gut feeling that I was working way too much to be healthy.
I assumed I was working six 12-14 hour days.
I could feel the mantle of pressure weighing down on me.
However, I recognized that I only had a feeling that I was working too many hours.
As I practiced a bit of introspection, I realized I didn’t have recorded data to confirm the gut feeling of my work schedule.
So I devised a plan to start recording my time.
I decided that I wanted to track the hours I spent in the major areas of my business.
These are the categories I chose to record my time.
- Professional Development – this is time I spend improving my skills.
- Marketing – this is time I spend marketing to create leads.
- Sales – this is time I spend selling individually to prospects
- Production – this is time I spend that I can directly bill to my clients
- Management – this is time I spend handling management items
- Admin – this is administrative time
My goal when I initially created these categories was to keep thing simple, so I could determine how I was using my time.
Now that I’ve had six weeks using this system, I’ve decided to combine the management and Admin categories.
My initial thought with the Admin category was that this would be work that I need to delegate to someone else.
I’ve since found that I’ve been spending about 30 minutes per day in this category, so I’ve concluded that there is not enough time in this category to warrant tracking as a separate category.
I’ve now determined that Admin and Management time should be combined.
I’m insistent on only having five categories because it falls in line with my Five Finger Measurement Method™
Here is how the Five Finger Measurement Method™ works.
1. Put your writing hand in front of your face with your palm facing you.
2. Extend your fingers and point them to the ceiling.
3. Count your fingers – Most people have five fingers (yes, I include the thumb as a finger)
4. Count your fingers again – Now write this number out on a piece of paper
5. Next, to the number you wrote down on the piece of paper write the following phrase – This is the most amount of things I can track and measure.
6. Now pick five things to focus on.
The Five Finger Measurement Method™ forces us to narrow our focus to only five things.
We have a limited amount of energy to focus, so it is important to limit what we focus on.
When you first start using the Five Finger Measurement Method™, you probably will have at least one item on your list that is not important.
That’s ok. You have to start somewhere.
You can easily remove an item from your Five Finger List and replace it with the more important item.
The first key is that you have to start focusing on something.
When you first start to build focus in your business, what you focus on is not as important as developing the skill of focus.
You will learn how to focus by being deliberate about practicing focus.
This week I will learn that something I focused on last week is not worthy of continued focus.
I will choose to replace that item with something that is a higher priority.
When I first started this practice of focus, I chose to focus on measuring my time.
I determined at that time was my most valuable resources, so it behooved me to get a handle on how I was using my time.
By measuring how I was using my time, I reduced my work time to five and a half days instead of six full days.
The next step is to reduce my work time to five days.
Every day I’m bombarded with an enormous amount of data and work.
There is always something new vying for my attention.
If I pay attention to everything, I pay attention to nothing.
Lack of focus is the enemy of doing the most important things.
I’ve made a deliberate practice of trying to reduce as many distractions as possible from my life.
I want to maintain a laser focus when I’m working.
If I allow myself to get distracted, I will lose my focus and the next thing I know my day is at an end, and I haven’t accomplished what I intended to accomplish during my day.
By being clear on what I am focusing on, I’m able to work on the most important things for my business.
To make it easier to focus, I have to remove anything from my environment that is a potential distraction.
Anything means anything.
Here are a few items that I believe are my biggest distractors:
- Social Media
These items have their use, but far too often, they become a time suck.
Most of the day, I have my telephone on silence.
If the phone call is important, the person will leave a message.
Email is an item I still struggle with.
One of the things I’ve done to minimize distractions from email is turning my Outlook to Work Offline mode.
This prevents me from receiving or sending emails.
The process of measuring needs to be a continual process.
Fall in love with measuring.
Measuring is the only way to get valid feedback on whether what you are doing is working or not working.