I have two dogs. One is a Goldendoodle who “doesn’t shed.” (This is a lie for anyone who doesn’t know.) The second is a small Beagle/Jack Russel mix who sheds like crazy.
Like many dog owners, I spend many of my days picking up dog hair tumbleweeds, Swiffering the hardwood floors and lamenting over how my house never seems to be clean. The other day while I was Swiffering I was thinking, there HAS GOT to be a better way than to continuously vacuum these floors. It is beyond frustrating to me that it needs to be done daily, or else it looks like it hasn’t been done in nearly a year.
Then it hit me:
If I brushed the dogs, I’d be addressing the hair at its source. It would be so much easier to brush the dogs and throw away the clump of hair that collects on the brush than it is to vacuum up scattered hairs all over the house each day.
Why haven’t I thought of this already? Why do I not brush the dogs regularly now? My answer: I don’t have time. No one in the family really has the time. But you know what’s silly? Somehow, I find the time to vacuum the floors every day.
This made me think about business.
I have a client who spends most of her day on tasks that would be unnecessary if she and her team were doing the right things in the first place. (Don’t judge. We all do it.)
She identified that if she and her team went back to rebuild the foundation of their practices, a lot of their daily busy-work would be eliminated as a result. Then, they would finally be able to focus on their strategy for the future of their business. Because they are not currently doing that, they are mired in work that seems never-ending (like vacuuming up little dog hairs) and frustrated daily because they feel they are making minimal progress.
What work task do you have that often frustrates you? Do you actually have to do it?
Or do you think you have to do it?
So, here’s my challenge to you: go back to the source of the issue. If you did things differently, how would that change what you have to do?
I have had the blessing of the last three months off work to learn how to become a mom. While that is a blessing in and of itself, there are other hidden treasures. I now get to return to work with a clear mind to evaluate the practices I did daily before I left.
Leading up to my maternity leave, I felt extremely busy and somewhat overwhelmed. Looking back, I wonder how many of those things I actually needed to do versus what I thought I needed to do. I’m excited that I have a chance to change things to be more efficient but, most importantly, effective.
Think about your productivity and ask yourself:
- Where do you feel you are not being productive enough in life?
- What are your most important goals right now?
- Are you moving toward them at the pace you really want?
- What distractions or competing interests do you have that are getting in the way?
- How could you minimize them?
The thing is, when we take the time to evaluate our daily habits, routines, and behaviors, we are going to find a lot of inefficiencies. That’s just our nature. We think things are important when, really, there are better things we could be doing with our time.
One of the biggest offenders of this is email.
Who checks their email when we first wake up? (me)
Who checks it in the middle of work tasks? (me)
Who multi-tasks while on work calls by checking their email? (Nope, I’m good here.)
And who checks it in the middle of the night if we can’t sleep? (Nope, solid sleeper even with a newborn.)
Here’s one I’m guilty of: I check my email when I wake up. Then I take a 10-minute shower, get out and check it again while getting ready in the morning.
Is anything really that dire that I need to find out about it within minutes of it being emailed to me??? Likely, no. You truly are not as important as you think you are. I love you and respect you, and think the world of you, but come on, rarely is email an emergency. How many times have you found out about actual urgent matters through email? Likely the person picked up the phone to call you instead.
So, can we all get over ourselves already? Shut your email down. Turn your phone to silent. Heck, put the phone in another room. Focus on your priorities; your actual priorities.
“Beware of your inbox, it’s nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.” – Brendon Burchard
Ninety-nine percent of the time checking your email is not helping you reach your major goals and priorities. It’s just checking tasks off your list that other people need from you. It might feel good, like a temporary win…but it’s just delaying the actualization of your goals.
So, are you sweeping up the proverbial dog hair every day? Or are you eliminating the need for more tedious work by nipping it in the bud at its source? Beginning at the root of the issue will help you be more productive every day.
How much time could you get back if you shed a few non-essential activities?
My own 30-day results?
Swiffer time daily = 20 mins x 7 days = 2.25 hours x 4 weeks = 9 hours
Brush time weekly = 20 mins a week x 4 weeks = 1 hour
Tasks delegated to the teenager in the house = 10 hours back a month!
Thanks, Mo and Sully, for the lesson. Love you guys, hair (not!) and all.
Cheyenne Bennett is Leadership & Talent Coach at Compass Point Family Business Strategies. She can be reached at 610‐336‐0514, or firstname.lastname@example.org.