Problem solving

Focus on what matters most: Five steps to maximise your productivity

- May 9, 2022 3 MIN READ
Busy, stressed woman sitting at desk surrounded by piles of paperwork

Are you feeling overwhelmed at the long list of tasks on your plate as a business owner? Focusing your energy on maximising your productivity, rather than endless busywork, is the place to start, writes bestselling author and founder of Time Stylers, Kate Christie.

High performers and high performing teams gain their reputation by consistently delivering excellence. In part, this consistency comes from understanding and working with their energy.

In my last piece, I helped you gather the data you need to determine what time of the day you are at your best and what time of the day you are not. And in part, this comes from knowing exactly what tasks to perform and when.

In terms of the latter, there are five key steps you can take today to ensure that you are focusing your time and effort where it most counts.

Step 1:

Write a long list of every single task you perform in your role across a typical week/quarter/year. The list is likely to be very long because, let’s face it, chances are you are a Jack or Jill of all trades.

And while this might be a necessary (and often a dollar driven) decision when you first start out in business, it’s not a sustainable decision in the long run (more on this in Step 5 and in my next piece for Flying Solo).

Step 2:

Segment your list into High Value Tasks and Low Value Tasks.

High Value Tasks are tasks which are at your skill level (either in terms of qualifications or experience, or both) and which are either revenue-generating or cost-reducing for your business.

As the owner of the business, your typical High Values Tasks will include tasks such as:

  • designing new products or services
  • sales
  • marketing
  • customer/relationship management
  • professional development
  • documenting/re-designing processes to maximise efficiencies

Low (or lower) Value Tasks are tasks which are below your skill level and which are cost-generating to your business.

As the owner of the business, typical Low(er) Value Tasks will include:

  • administration
  • rework
  • not documenting key processes (and so re-inventing the wheel)
  • allowing interruptions
  • procrastinating
  • getting stuck on social media
  • internal meetings
  • trying to do stuff you have absolutely no idea how to do and should get in an expert to do for you, but you don’t want to pay an expert, and so you end up spinning your wheels on it for five hours before finally conceding you have no actual idea, and so you finally engage an expert who deals with the issue in 30 minutes.

Stressed looking woman surrounded by colourful post-it notes

Step 3:

Your day, week, month and year should be planned to ensure you spend most of your time on your High Value Tasks. That is, the jobs which are at your skill level and which bring money into the business or strip costs out of the business.

Step 4:

Equally, each day should be structured so that you focus on your High Value Tasks when you are at your best. For example, if you are a morning lark you will structure your day to lock in two to three High Value Tasks between 8am and 12pm each day.

Step 5:

Outsource or delegate as many of your Low Value Tasks as possible (after all, your Low Value Tasks will be another role’s High Value Tasks – more on this in my next piece: What Should I Outsource in My Business?).

However, there will always be a place for Low Value Tasks in your role because it is impossible (and not really affordable) to delegate or outsource every single Low Value Task from your list. Your day/week/month/year should be planned to allow you to perform these tasks when you are physically and mentally ‘not’ at your best.

For example, if you are a little firecracker of energy in the morning (aka a morning lark), then it makes sense to schedule your Low Value Tasks for the afternoon when you feel like curling up for a little snooze.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"