I thought maybe today’s topic would be activity versus achievement because it’s Monday and Monday is usually a crazy day in terms of all the email onslaught and the busy work we end up with—and I know we’re not alone. Everybody is like that on a Monday. I even have talked to people who start their day Sunday night just so they will have a clearer inbox just because of all the stuff that will land on their desk on Monday morning.
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Activity vs Achievement
I’m probably guilty of not having the right balance of activity versus achievement. We all get bogged down with so many things we think we need to do, but are we really doing the things that we should be doing to achieve the right things for our business, our job, our work, or even our learning curve on 3D printing? It’s the same thing. If you want to achieve the goal of doing something, I’m probably guilty myself of spending a lot more time than I should on the 3D printing machine itself dealing with things that I think are really cool or technical about the machine. That’s not really helping me as much as creating the next thing that I want to print on that machine.
It depends on what your achievement goals are. If your achievement goals are to learn everything there is to know about the printer and dive in deep, then maybe that is a worthwhile amount of time spent, assuming you have the wherewithal and unlimited funds and the time to do it. Or you can afford the sacrifice of time against something else.
I think you have to define activities and achievements. I think of the things you do, the activities you do. To me, they have to be worth the time spent. If you are spending time on activities just being busy, I hear this all the time: “How are you doing?” “Oh, I’m busy. Things are really busy.” That doesn’t necessarily mean things are good. When I ask people questions, you dive in and find out that they are busy but are not making more money. What are you busy doing? What activities are you doing?
I did this exercise a couple months ago where I spent ten days cataloguing and detailing every single moment I spent in the office doing something, or when I was working outside the office on something business-related. I carried around a pad of paper and took notes. I tried to be extremely accurate. Every 15 minutes, whether I was done with the activity or not, I would log minutes under that section. I separated it into types of stuff. Was I doing email, something related to 3D printing, something related to podcast, whatever it might be? I tried to catalogue every single minute that I spent so that I could not only look at overall time I spent on it but was any of that actually useful to the bottom line of our business?
Then I took it and found out how much we earned that month. The net result is a certain amount per hour spent. How much is my net hourly rate out of that? To be honest with you, it was pretty sad. I was shocked at how bad it was. I was doing 66% overtime, which is way too many work hours and more than what you thought you were doing. And granted, my part of our business is business-building, so there isn’t a direct correlation necessarily with money that comes in today. It’s money that will come in a few months or a year. That long-term business-building isn’t something you can immediately quantify. Consider that marketing for your business.
This is resonating to me because it is related to another podcast that I listened to recently. It was one of Ken Courtright’s Today’s Growth business podcasts, which is a good podcast for any of you entrepreneurs out there who are interested in business mentorship or self-improvement for doing your business. He was talking about how they have each of their people log every day what they did related to their job. It wasn’t about accountability of whether the person was doing their job; it was so when they saw in the future that business improved, that things were going better, they can look back and see what actions actually affected that and produced results and what actions did not. That is somewhat related to what you’re talking about.
It’s why I did it. I wanted to see how much time I was spending on marketing, growing our business that way. I wanted to see how much time I was spending on 3D printing, how much time I was spending on accounting. It’s ridiculous that I spent a lot of time on accounting. How much time do I spend on operations of our business? Overseeing virtual employees. And how much of that is yielding money now or in the future or supporting our existing investments like this podcast for instance? This is an investment in something we are working on for the future. You look at all of that. That way it is also a guide for me to decide at which time those activities no longer make sense for me to be the one to do. When is it time to hire out and do that?
I have a thought on that, which also came from a Ken Courtright episode. He was talking about if it is something only you can do, then you do it. But if it is something somebody else can do, assuming you can hire people, you should be hiring and delegating that.
This was my way of listing out and identifying those things that I should not be doing anymore, like our taxes. I should not be doing our taxes anymore. It’s ridiculous that I am still doing it. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should do it. I remember watching something one time on the Biography Channel about the Coors beer company.
When the Coors beer company—this goes back to the ‘60s or ‘70s in this company—they were already a $350 million a year company back then. Their books were still being done on a ledger by one person, the CFO of the company. At that point, even in the ‘70s, there were computer systems. People were using Mainframes to do accounting. They were still doing it the old way, and he probably shouldn’t have been.
It really is that kind of thing where you look at it and ask if you’re being efficient. That’s why identifying those things that are activities and those things that are actually leading to achievement makes a really big difference. It starts with recognizing you have a problem. Hold up a mirror to it and look at it.
When I held up a mirror and noticed I was spending 66% overtime for a normal 40-hour week, I asked if that was worth it. For us for the most part, it is. But that is a lot of time away from our daughters. I have to think if that activity is really worth that.
I never expect to work just a 40-hour work week. Anybody working independently or in business for themselves never expects to work only 40 hours. If you are in a job and wanting to work for yourself because you think you will work fewer hours, let’s dispel that fiction from fact right now. That’s not reality. But we work after our kids go to bed to keep doing work. Still, 66% over a 40-hour work week is more than I would have thought, too. I was shocked.
It’s a couple hours of reading at night. It’s a bunch of extra emails through a lunch hour. It was taking the time to do social media over my phone while we are out somewhere. Those things add up. That’s what I did. I catalogued every single one of those things. They creep into our personal lives in ways we all don’t realize. Those activities are maybe not producing return, but they are creeping into our personal lives and having an effect on our work-life balance we talked about recently. We have to consider that.
That took some discipline for you to log everything. You were supposed to do it, too, and you failed miserably. I did, but I accept the fact that there is too much activity and there needs to be more achievement. I can course-correct without doing all of those numbers. But I still want to see it. I know you do. I want to see exactly what you do. I keep asking you to try to dial in what your day was like, and I can’t get you to say it. I want to see it on paper. To me, that is just more activity. I need to be achieving.
You’re right. Even today, before we were recording this podcast, I have been communicating with an intern. You can think about getting an intern; it doesn’t cost a ton of money to get help to deal with some of this activity, and I am looking on getting an intern. There is a design intern who can help with some of the executing of printing some of these things on a 3D printer, and I can not deal with having that clog up my day and keep working on things that are advancing our business forward. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to hire people, you can still find a way to get help.
I hope that helps you guys. The idea came to me from David Meltzer, who wrote a great book called Connected to Goodness, which is interesting. His premise was that he would identify exactly where he could shave minutes off. This was like the Friday Night Lights thing where everything is in inches, except everything is in minutes here. If you want to be more efficient, then you have to shave minutes off of your day. You can do this by learning how to be ultra-efficient at something. But you have to first identify what it is where you could free up time to do this.
If you could automate social media because I spend this much time on it, when you automate it, you could have minutes off of your week. Would that have a significant impact, especially if social media wasn’t having an achievement impact to our bottom line? I chose not to do that a while ago because I wanted to personally handle our social media in terms of us being able to answer people. I didn’t want to do this autobot stuff. That was a choice that was made. At some point, though, we will have to reevaluate that. Does it make sense to 100% do it, or maybe there is about 80% we should autobot and the rest we should handle?
Those are questions that happen at various stages of your business. You might come back to that decision again later and say, “I have to automate here,” or “I need to figure out how to become more efficient at something so it doesn’t drag me down anymore.” It starts with figuring out where your activities are and where your achievements need to be. When you identify those two things, you can make yourself much more efficient.
I think it’s a great subject for today, Tracy. I appreciate that, except for the part of you wanting to document my activities. Other than that, awesome. He doth protest too much for reason because he doesn’t want me to see.
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