There are 3,600 seconds in an hour and 28,800 seconds in a full eight-hour workday. As Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki has pointed out; wealthy people become so because they understand leverage. And one of the things you can leverage is time. So the practice you are about to under-take will determine the leverage you have with your day-to-day activities.
If you were to go to a doctor, the doctor’s first step would be to find a diagnosis. This exercise is a diagnostic tool for your business; it will help you evaluate what you and your team, however large or small it is, are focused on. It will help you break down what your day looks like and will enable you to see where you can buy back some time. I call this time freedom the temporal space you need to strategize and think.
Many of our clients are surprised when they see the results of this exercise. Using leverage correctly is a tricky skill, and some people never master it. A common stumbling block is that there are tasks you want to be done in a particular way—what you think of as the “right way.” However, this mindset is dangerous because there isn’t enough time in the day to have a hand in everything truly. The key is to do only the tasks that will impact your business goals.
I call the following exercise The Sticky Challenge. It is easy to undertake; you and/or your company can use this tool to do a full leverage in- inventory in just one week.
The concept is simple: You will record every single one of your actions on a separate sticky note throughout the day. For example, you might write, “I made a phone call to a client,” “I grabbed some food,” or “I had a sales meeting,” one per sticky. At the end of the investigation period, you will sit down and categorize your activities into three different areas:
- Dollar-productive activities
- Non-dollar-productive activities
- Legacy vs. non-legacy activities
The concept of what is dollar productive is fairly obvious. However, legacy vs. non-legacy might strike you as a subtler distinction. A legacy task is anything that gives you leverage inside your business; the setting up of a legacy task, like building out a CRM or a referral program, is the ultimate gift because it creates time freedom. Non-legacy tasks are more routine with a short-lived impact.
Here is how to complete the Sticky Challenge. First, grab a stack of sticky notes and follow yourself around for a whole week, writing down everything you do. If you can do two to four weeks, that’s even better. After compiling a list of all of the tasks you do daily, the time it takes to complete, and the category ($ Productive, Non $ Productive, Legacy, Non-Legacy), then you can begin to get an idea of how you are spending your time at work.
The magic of this simple yet effective “time on task” study is that your whole team can do it. You can then easily begin to prioritize the most important work ($ Productive) with the idea that you and your team can come up with ways to increase the value brought to the business because you now have the data.