I was recently in a hardware store and an effective display for a gutter-guard system caught my eye. The marketing talked about all the clutter that can clog up your gutters and cause large amounts of water to pour into, flood and damage your house. That marketing got this business coach thinking about clutter and business. What clutter is clogging up the gutters (daily operations) of most business owners? What junky “stuff” is clogging up the flow of business and productivity? What clutter is causing owners to feel “flooded” and “overwhelmed”?
“What is clutter and how is it related to business?”, you ask. At The Growth Coach, we define clutter as the low-value, urgent, unimportant tasks (the trivial many) we entrepreneurs routinely and habitually handle each and every day. It’s the low-value stuff that screams for our attention, consumes our days, clogs our creativity, reduces the flow of meaningful work, keeps us away from strategic matters, and ends up drowning out our productivity. Bottom line, it’s the wrong kind of work for an owner and leader. Got clutter?
Sure you do. We all have clutter, some more than others. For some examples, clutter could be: excessively checking and handling your smart phone or PC tablet, playing with worthless Apps, checking and responding reactively to email throughout the day, doing administrative or hourly types of tasks, doing other people’s jobs, solving the problems others created, doing mindless trips or chores, reading the paper, chatting with co-workers, handling paperwork, accumulating unread or unorganized emails (email limbo), surfing the web, answering the cell phone no matter what, messing in the factory, roaming the office, listening to the radio, putting out fires, etc. Many of these activities are just habitual and tension-relieving and not goal-achieving. Be aware of your clutter.
Realize that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your talents and activities. Therefore, wake-up to the fact that 80% of your daily activities may well be unimportant stuff … sheer clutter! A real waste of your time, energy and talents. Sorry, but you probably already know this deep down to be true. Stop wasting your time doing the wrong kind of work. Think of the time you could free up for more important, strategic opportunities (leading, marketing, selling, systematizing, planning, etc.) to grow your business and profits as well as spend more time with your family. Commit to clean out the clutter from your professional and personal gutters!
Spend 15 minutes now and write down all the clutter in your professional and personal life. What is wasting your time and talents? What work should you NOT be doing? Or doing far LESS of it? What is steering you away from critical priorities? What diversions and distractions are robbing you and your company of greater productivity? Look honestly at the list. Accept the truth and acknowledge the clutter. Commit to eliminate, delegate, or diminish the 80% of your activities (clutter) that produce minimal results for your business or career.
Instead of creating a “to-do” list each and every day, we at The Growth Coach strongly encourage our clients to create a “not-to-do list.” You should do the same. Start giving up tasks that are not worthy of your time … either delete those tasks all together or delegate them to others. If you are having a hard time deleting or delegating some of the tasks, at least diminish doing them or delay doing them … that way you will find out they are not really that important.
Choose instead to focus on the meaningful 20% of your talents and activities that drive the vast majority of your results and success. At the Growth Coach, we call these the “vital few” tasks that produce money, save money, or keep your customers happy.
Work smarter, not harder! Commit to give up the “clutter” in your professional and personal life.