This is something I have been working on for the past 3-4 years, and give more and more attention.
I believe that it is impossible to manage a productive work week, by working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, due to a number of factors:
- I am not productive 8 hours straight.
- I am not productive 5 days a week, when I am supposed to work.
- It is not how much you work, it is about the results.
- There is a difference between being busy and being productive.
- I am good at certain things, not as much at others.
- Disruption dramatically lowers productivity.
“Jack of all trades, master of none”
Is something I hear a lot from people, specially in some places in the world. I firmly believe that this is not true, not in a post-industrial knowledge worker economy, but is something spoken by conservative people that still think of things in a industrial and perhaps closed system economy context.
I believe that I will be both more productive and happy if I can diverge and slash my work life, by spending time really focused on different things and actually be quite specialized on each, instead of spreading myself to everything of one thing (a few aspects of which I am really good at others that I am not at all, or as I have discovered there are things I can do really well, but I should not, because it disrupts too much of my balance and slowly brings my productivity down dramatically).
This is why I have decided to build a Business Lab and go from less of a serial Entrepreneur to more of a parallel Entrepreneur during the past few years. I focus on spending time on the things I can do really well, and work with other people that can do the others, employ or contract people that are really good at those things.
When I diverge from this plan, which have happened every now and then the past few years, I see myself becoming more burnt out, less satisfied with life in general, less productive and producing less results for the one thing that I spent most of my time on.
Outsourcing is key
One deceptive thing can be to hire somebody that you pay the same or more as you would make your self, you might think that your are better of doing things yourself.
But you need to value your time, and what you can do instead with that time. If you would pay someone let’s say EUR 20/hour as a personal assistant 8 hours a week to get a lot of your administrative work off your back, that would total 160 EUR a week, and think instead what additional revenue you could build or personal things you could do by getting one whole day extra every week?
If you make sure you spend that extra day every week on the right things, you will build more revenue than that 160 EUR every week, or perhaps you will just get a longer week-end, which might be worth that 160 EUR, but the key thing is that if you embrace this way of thinking you will be able to focus spending your time on things that will actually be more productive and out-source as much as possible. And that 20 EUR/hour you spend to off-load some administrative tasks might generate you 100 EUR/hour or more.
How I am working to achieve these goals
These are some of the things I am trying to work into my routine to achieve this:
- Time Management is essential, and the main problem is disruptions, which kills any planning and focus.
- E-Mail is broken, and to partly fix that I have used a GTD type system (my own version of it) for two years or so, and trying to keep the Inbox empty, tagging things by project, and to read, act-on etc. This has allowed me to gain some focus and I spend 30 mins on going through and responding to all e-mail on just one project, instead of going through every scattered e-mail. E-mail still lacks a lot, so will start to reduce the amount of time and e-mail I use from now on.
- Discipline, try to discipline myself between work and personal life. And I will disconnect my work Reach-ability to be disturbed.
- Be effective, be very focused on a few things in every project that I am working on, and minimize other things.
- I try to remember how I totally burnt myself of working 70-80 hours a week with one of my previous companies that I started in 99.
With this in mind, I started ReachCards (GlocalReach Ltd) with two co-founders a year ago, to help manage how people are reached which is one of the most important things for getting your personal Time Management to work (manage your disruptions). We are entering an area where people will share almost any personal information element, but will want to manage their interaction space very carefully.