21 Lunch and Learn: The two tweaks to your day that will boost your profitability

Written by  //  April 9, 2012  //  Daily Juice  //  No comments

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We’ve all had days when we have been busy, busy, busy but, really, have accomplished nothing. And then we have other days, most often when a deadline is looming, when we are super efficient.


Two tweaks to your day that will boost your profitability

Now we can’t  – or shouldn’t – work under the threat of a scary deadline every day, and we can get that sort of output without it. We just need to make a couple of tweaks to our day and combine it with a (large) spoonful of self-discipline.

What it is

Quite simply this recipe is about focussing ourselves on high payoff activities and letting go of the low payoff ones. Not revolutionary but there’s a tip below to help you actually do it!

Why it works

I’m sure you have heard of the 80/20 rule (also called the Pareto Principle, or my favourite,“The Law of the Few”). Just in case you’re not, it seems to be the natural order of things that roughly 20 % of the effort gives us 80% of the reward.

So in business, 20% of the work gives you 80% of the upside in your business. These are high payoff activities.

It works the other way round too though, and there’s another 20% of your work that is generating 80% what feels like wasted time. These are the low payoff activities.

This recipe is about helping you to identify and then focus on the high payoff stuff.

What you do

I once worked with a guy who never, ever, read emails. He figured that if a message was important enough someone would phone him to discuss it. That way he never had to trawl through an inbox. Crazy but it worked for him!

Here’s how to tweak your business to more high payoff activities:

Step 1

First of all we need to get a sense of which are our highest payoff activities and which are our lowest ones.

You don’t need to do this too scientifically as your gut feeling will be pretty accurate on this one. But you do need to make yourself think about it.

That’s why I suggest that you keep a daily record for a week or two of the types of work you are doing, how long (roughly) you are spending on it, and whether it’s a high payoff, low payoff or neutral activity. If you’re thinking it sounds like another timesheet, groan, you’re right! But it’s worth it.

Step 2

Remember that the high payoff activities are the ones that give you super-results for your effort. They tend to be quite tough to do (that’s why we don’t do them more, methinks) but the output is so very worth it.

Low payoff activities are the opposite, and there are two varieties. There is the ‘fun-to-do-but-fruitless’, you know which ones these are and they are easily fixed by a bit of self-discipline. The other variety is a bit tougher. It’s the painful customer, the tricky employee, the red-tape admin. These look like they need to be done, but can they be trimmed or outsourced? Or even dumped (remember this blog post!)

On the timesheet in step one, lots of smiley faces for the work with the highest payoffs. Sad faces for the ‘fun-to-do-but-fruitless’ and grumpy faces for the painful work.

Step 3

Every day, for three weeks, swap one hour of low payoff work for one hour of high payoff.

I find this easiest to make happen by doing my high payoffs first thing in the morning, before I get distracted, and doing the low payoffs later, but do whatever suits you.

Step 4

At the end of three weeks you should see an amazing improvement in the progress of your business. Depending on where you have been spending your 21 extra hours of high payoff time you could have a bundle of new clients or a finished new product. And, really, it wasn’t that painful.


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