As you may know by now, I am very focussed on systems, processes and increasing productivity.
Mistakenly, people often think that productivity improvements can only be achieved through using new apps, new software or other types of automation.
Whilst all those things are great and true, you don’t always need new tools in order to increase your productivity. You can make massive changes and increase the rate at which you get work done, simply by changing your approach, and making one very important shift to the way you structure your day.
I was reminded of this over the weekend, while busy sorting out my CD collection.
Yes, I am old enough to still have a CD collection, with no plan of getting rid of it all anytime soon.
What I set out to do the weekend was to create more space in the living room, without getting rid of or losing access to my CDs. We recently had quite a lot of work done on the house, but this did not include an extension. This means the house is a lot nicer, but no bigger, and there was no room in the new arrangement for my 1300 CDs, not counting box-sets and limited editions.
So, I set about removing them all from their cases, in preparation to place them all in large CD wallets. This means I can still use them, but they take up a fraction of the space they do when in CD shelves against the wall.
As you can imagine, this was quite a task, starting at 10:30am and finally finishing at 8:15pm.
As you can imagine, this is mundane work, although quite enjoyable, as it is a trip down memory lane, going through a collection built up over the last 30 years.
I soon realised that something was slowing me down.
When going through a stack of CDs, all single albums in normal plastic cases, I could get through up to 15 per minute., because I was performing the same task over and over, getting into a rhythm, it was all going quite quickly.
However, whenever I came across a double album or one in a fancy Digi-Pack, it would slow me down, a lot. A double album took more than twice as long as a single, and the Digi-Packs even longer.
The same goes for you in your businesses. Jumping from one type of task to the next, impacts your productivity far more than you might imagine.
If you are busy doing a quote for a new customer, then answering the phone, checking emails etc… you will feel like you are getting a lot done, but in fact you could get far more done in your day.
It is estimated that when you are focussed, and “briefly” interrupted, it takes on average 21 minutes for you to get back to your previous level of focus.
Batching your work, will keep you focussed and massively ramp up your personal productivity. Once you structure your business that the bulk of your team work in the same manner, you’ll transform your business faster than you ever thought possible.
In our business, I very seldom do client work in the mornings. My mornings are focussed on creating content and working to improve our business. I check emails and make calls between 1pm and 2pm, and I don’t receive any inbound calls in the morning.
This means I am able to be very focussed for at least half the day, with no interruption, unless something really is an emergency.
The majority of business owners treat everything as an emergency that needs reaction right away, which severely diminishes their ability to stay focussed on developing and growing the business.
The first step you can take is by batching your work, in sections of the day. Unless you are a one-man band, there is no reason for you to answer the phone whenever it rings. In fact, even if you are a one-man band, you can use a call answering service, even if just for a couple of hours in the day, to help keep you focussed.
Batching also helps you to get more done, as you are performing some of the same tasks over and over, at the same time, instead of being pulled around from task to task.
Before you succumb to the age-old “…but my business is different”, try it first, even just for a day.
Unless you are head of an A&E department, or actually run an emergency service as a business, your business is not different. Batch your work, enjoy the increased productivity and then make it a practice across your business. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes, without needing to sign up for yet another app or monthly subscription for software.
Author: Pieter K de Villiers
Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Barefoot Digital and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.