You can use your time for 2 things:
- For fire killing: solving urgent problems, bugs, last minute schedule changes, chasing a new contract, bookkeeping, answering emails, handling calls, dealing with a random day to day flow of unpredictable events, sinking away in administrative duties and urgencies.
- For working on procedures and putting systems in place in order to avoid fire killing: stepping out of the day to day rush, thinking on how you could set up rules in place so your life or business becomes an engine that runs on autopilot.
The first I call consuming time. It’s like consuming money. It gives instant happiness. You spend 10 minutes on something urgent, and hooray, it’s solved! Up to the next thing. And the next. And the next. And the next… The issue with this is that there will be a never ending stream of burning things, calls, persons, emails, issues, … that need your attention. If you keep on just consuming or burning your time for random urgencies, you or your business will never grow. You will be always the “master hero” jack-of-all-trades that has everyone’s respect, but no free time to enjoy life or to make any progress in your business.
Instead of consuming or burning your time, invest your time. Just like with investing money, investing time has an ROI (return on investment). Think wise about how you could organise and master your life and business. This is of course less instant. It’s an upfront investment, but with a return later on. By working out a clear and organized procedure to support your clients, you don’t solve the problem of the client that is calling you right now. So that particular urgency is still there. But with a clear, organized and documented procedure in place, spread across your company, all your future clients urgencies will be on auto pilot. Instead of handling support calls, text messages, emails and Twitter messages yourself in a random way, set up a centralized support email box across the company, with clear rules in place. Make this an engine. Define the rules of the game so clearly that there is no room for misunderstandings. For your clients: route them to this one central support email box. For your company: define who should handle which support request, how, what are the conventions, etc. Great, you are now on auto-pilot. Everyone is handling in the same way. There is less management or monitoring needed. You can even predict your workload and how things will evolve. You have more time for useful things (like investing in even more procedures).
Just like investing money, investing time is an upfront investment. But it pays itself back. It’s an elevator for growth, more free time, more money, confidence. It allows you to scale.
The support box example is just one of the so many areas where you can set up procedures. There are so many aspects in life and business that you could automate. The highest return on time investment is in recurring and simple tasks. Because they are recurring, you invest once, and benefit forever. Because they are simple, the rules of the game are short and clear. Client support, holiday requests, going to the store, healthy food habits, recurring payments, your email inbox, clients that call you late in the evening, a todo list, your agenda, your daily wake up routine, good sport habits, and so on. Don’t let them define your agenda.
With fire killing, you kill fires, but you never improve!