Five questions to getting more Done!
16 September 2015
To the outside world, I look like a really busy woman. I’m running here, there, and everywhere… doing this, doing that... managing my business... coordinating my household... studying this course and that course... “I don’t know how you do it?” they ask me. “Do what?” I often wonder to myself. This is just how I know life to be. I don’t like the word “busy”. Busy suggests that you are not available, that you are too busy for the things that count… Too busy to catch up with people when they need you, too busy to play with your kids, too busy to notice, too busy to be engaged with life… But, I think I am extremely engaged with life, I am aware of when people need me and I make time to be there. I play with my kids, I listen to them, we read books, we make time to talk about the little things. I make time for myself too. I exercise, I get my massages and facials, I write my blog posts. I do those things that relaxes me.
I read somewhere that there is just enough time for the things that matter. But let’s face it, being responsible for 7 hearing clinics, two young kids, and studying means that I have to have some time management tricks up my sleeve. These are the five questions that I ask over and over every time I am faced with a task. Now, some of these questions may seem very money oriented to you but I am a CEO and money fortunately or unfortunately does make the world go around. Try it for a week and let me know how you go. I would love to hear whether it has helped.
1. Does it concern a relationship?
Does what I have to do concern somebody’s feelings and wellbeing? If it does, it is important and must be done, and it must be done in a timely matter. Is this an opportunity for me to inspire and build someone up? For example, does my child or my staff need me? On the flip side, if I don’t make time to attend to it, would it harm that person? Question 1 is the most important question cause if you make priority other people’s wellbeing, then you are already fulfilling your time with things that actually matter. As a mother and as a female leader, I feel we are custodians of the emotional wellbeing of those around us. It is sacred and it is such a precise responsibility and one that we cannot put aside.
Example 1 - I’m busy paying bills and my child comes up to show me her painting she did at school. It concerns her self-esteem and her sense of importance in my life. I drop the bills and pay attention to her, or else I say, “Mummy will be two seconds finishing this bill off then I will give you my full attention cause I really want to look at your painting properly”.
Example 2 – A staff member is feeling disengaged with the rest of the team and asks for help. In my mind, any team member that asks for emotional support is a keeper so if I can’t drop everything and be there, I make a point of scheduling in a meeting or a lunch date so they know they will get my full attention.
2. Does it directly cost me money?
Now I’m going to sound like a businesswoman! Let’s face it, we all have bills to pay… money comes in, money goes out. My family’s freedom with lifestyle choices depends on how we manage our finances. In business, we often worry about profits and how to make more of it but in my mind, I think a lot of small businesses actually have a lot of redundancies in resources and do not leverage enough, so for me, it is important to deal with those issues that costs me money (or value) next. There is no point putting all your efforts into making more profits when on the other hand, you are losing money form inefficiencies in the organisation. You would fix a leaking tap first before you build a beautiful extension in your house, right?
3. Does it directly make me money?
These are the next items I would deal with. Notice for both questions 2 and 3, I say “directly”. By this, I mean does doing or coordinating this one task (which should take no more than a 2 week timeline) “directly” affect my bottom line. These should be knocked off the list first. Notice that for both questions, I talk about “dealing with it” and not necessarily doing it myself. There are lots of items that take a lot longer than 2 weeks to implement and this is when I call in the cavalry and become the General (see Question 5). When I talk about a 2 week timeline, I don’t mean that it would take me literally 14 days of solid working to get me to a goal. What I mean is that with home life, work that must be done, the 2 week timeline tasks are ones that I can easily achieve, perhaps working on it for a little bit each day around my regular responsibilities.
4. So, if it doesn’t cost me money and it doesn’t make me money, does it have to be done at all?
I am going to make the bold suggestion that 60% of everything that we think we have to do in life actually don’t have to be done at all! The caveat here are those things that we just love doing cause it gives us enjoyment. That is, those things that inspire us and build us up as individuals (see Question 1). That’s right, to be emotionally available to others, you have to make time for yourself and do the things that makes you happy or it simply won’t work. Asking this very important but simple question should knock off a good proportion of the things that we think we have to do but have no intrinsic value and don't actually need to be done at all. If you own a business, can you find at least 5 things that you are doing right now day in and day out that actually don't need doing at all? Be honest, we do certain things cause it fulfils our sense of importance that really, even if you didn't do them would makes no difference whatsoever. These are the tasks that make us look "busy". The tasks that make us feel busy make us feel important. Perhaps, it's time to find something else to make us feel important about.
5. If it has to be done, does it have to be done by YOU?
I can hear all you perfectionists out there thinking “but no one can do it but me… they won’t do as good as a job… they will get it wrong… it’s going to drive me crazy watching them!” Oh, I know, I used to be one of you until I realised one day that when something has to be done but it doesn’t have to be done by me that it is in fact, a massive opportunity! Yes, this is the time that you can leverage on other people’s skills, teach them a new skill, and inspire them to think beyond their own limits. As a leader, how can you ask for trust when you can’t let go enough to trust others? I’m not saying they will get it right the first time or even the second or third time but you are trusting them that they are doing their absolute best with what they are capable to do at the time. Sure, there is a line and if someone is not suited for the job than you need to deal with that but imagine yourself as the coordinator, or the teacher. Doesn’t it make more sense to spend your efforts in teaching others the skill for them to knock things off your to-do list so that next time those items come up, they are not even on YOUR to-do list anymore? Isn’t this what we try to do as parents? We want our children to learn to do things for themselves.
So, next time you have a million things to do. I implore you to try ask these 5 questions but more importantly, to think outside the square and use your tasks as opportunities to leverage and grow someone else’s skillset and self-esteem. The more you do that, the more you will realise that everything that you do each day should matter and make a tremendous difference. Continuously asking these questions and refining our definition of what it is we actually have to do each day will create more time for doing the things that have real meaning to our lives.
STAY CONNECTED, FOR THE LATEST MD NEWS & EVENTS: