Running a business isn’t easy. If you’re like most business leaders, you’ve got a lot you want to accomplish.
In a recent client session, the team had an a-ha moment while we were setting priorities for the next 90 days. They were frustrated because they felt like there was never enough time in the day to get stuff done. Even though they had clear priorities for the 90-day period, things just kept coming up throughout the quarter that they felt obligated to tackle right then. This put them over their time capacity.
The Time Capacity Ball
Imagine a ball that represents your time capacity – you have a limit to the amount of time you can work in a day – after all, there are only 24 hours in any given day (if you’ve figured out how to fit more hours into a day, please tell me!!). You’ve got to then choose how to spend your time.
Now imagine filling 3/4 of the ball with the time you’ll spend on your daily roles and responsibilities – all the things you’ve got to do day-in and day-out.
Another eighth of the ball is filled with the time you’re going to allocate to work on your 90-day priorities, called Rocks. These are the MOST important things that you’ve committed to working on over the next 90 days.
Now your ball is filled to 7/8 capacity. You’ve got another eighth to spare.
My client’s a-ha moment was this – they weren’t leaving enough buffer space at the top of the ball for all the unexpected things that would come up throughout the 90-day period. Throughout the quarter, the team would come up with a new project that needed to be done, they’d decide to do it, then they would become overwhelmed and things would quickly begin to fall through the cracks. Their priorities didn’t get done because they were trying to do too much.
Say No to Great Ideas
What they realized is that they did not push back on each other when great new project ideas came up. They realized their critical need to get better at saying, “NO, we can’t spend time on that right now because we already committed to these other priorities.”
Occasionally, if something comes up that’s truly important, the team will now collectively decide which of their priorities to deprioritize.
The team is now more disciplined about saying NO and not over-committing themselves from the beginning. Since they have begun leaving themselves more buffer room, they have made tremendous progress. The company is moving forward faster than ever before. The staff report that they feel like they’re getting more done, with fewer frustrations, and feeling like they have great work/life balance.
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This article originally appeared on the GPS for Small Business blog on February 22, 2017.