I’m chained to my desk for what seems like 20 hours a day. And there are days I feel like even though I put in the time, I got nothing done. (Today would be one of those days.)
Since I figured I wasn’t alone in my hamster-wheel feeling, I got some advice from Sam Carpenter, author of Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less. And a guy who claims to have cut his own workweek from 80 hours to 2, while increasing his income to a factor of 20.
According to Carpenter, if you simply adjust some of your primary assumptions about how you work, you can follow in his short workweek footsteps. “If we can look at our business lives from a slightly different perspective,” he says, “it will not only get us organized, but enable us to get more done in less time.”
And because I can’t play golf alone, here are his top tips so you can cut the fat out of your workday, get more done in a lot less time, and get out on the course.
Stop “Doing the Work”
The reason a successful business owner or department manager can work a few hours a week, or take an extended vacation without stress, is because he or she has created systems, implemented written procedures, and has learned to delegate. Successful people don’t work harder; they work smarter. So focus on what needs to be done to make your business grow. Automate or delegate the rest.
Use Your “Prime” Time Wisely
Understand this: “Biological prime time” is when your brainpower is at peak capacity. People function at maximum effectiveness only about six hours out of a twenty four-hour day. It is important to determine precisely when your personal prime time occurs, and then use that time period wisely.
Six hours each day is not much, so, presuming you want to reach your goals sooner rather than later, it’s best that you perform the tasks that contribute most to your success during your prime time hours, and that you protect those hours from interruption.
Create Written Documentation
More than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first year, and 80 percent fail within the first 5 years, according to the U.S. Small Business Association. Boring but true, the single, major difference between a small, floundering company and a large, successful company is this: The large, successful business employs documentation.
It’s a simple equation: Documented procedures equal freedom and profit. If you already own a small business, and you don’t have documentation, carve out time today, sit down, and develop a Strategic Objective for your business. It’s like a mission statement, but punchier and more specific. Next, move on to your General Operating Principles, a 2-4 page collection of “guidelines for decision-making.” Third, you need written Working Procedures – instructions describing how the individual systems of the company or the job are to operate.
If you own a business, your mission is to work hard but not long, to reduce the workweek by 95 percent, and to make more money than you require. If you have a job, the goal is to quickly ascend the management ranks until you can call your own shots. But no matter what your situation, if you are going to work, then work! Turn the radio off, get your feet off the desk, stop the pointless babbling with a coworker, and put your head down.
Get in, do the work, and get out. Suggest polite ways for keeping a conversation moving along, especially if a long-winded coworker comes into your office for a “quick question,” then starts recapping last night’s episode of American Idol from start to finish. And, what about staff meetings? Are they a waste of time? Yes, if you don’t have an agenda.