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A Thousand Dollars an Hour

One of my mentors describes a person or activity that wastes your time as a “time vampire”.

This might be someone who repeatedly interrupts you for information they could easily find on their own – in other words, they’re really making a social call.

It might be you checking CNN or Facebook.

Interruptions often happen because the interrupter hasn’t been trained to find what you’re giving them – that’d be your responsibility.

Sometimes these inquiries are valuable because of the resulting discussion, but the interruption is often costly because it pulls you out of the zone – a hyper-productive period of work.

That work thing

Even “Work” can be a time vampire.

How do you decide what to delegate, outsource or (gasp) what not to do at all?

We’ve talked at length about how to evaluate this with your staff, including automation and what to retain as a manual task – because it’s important enough that you’d never want to outsource or automate it (like most customer service tasks).

One thing we haven’t really talked in detail about is deciding what YOU do.

At the top of your list: things that no one else can do. Yes, I mean those things that no one literally has the ability to do except you.

Driving, Chipping and Putting

In a professional golfer’s work world, only the golfer can hit the ball. Almost everything else except for promotional talks and photos can be delegated. On the golf course (or the practice range/green), work gets done by the golfer that cannot be delegated. It might be 1000 dollar an hour work, maybe more, depending on the golfer.

While it’s obvious, that’s what I want you to consider: What work of yours is the equal of the pro golfer’s professional-grade driving, chipping and putting?

A Grand an Hour

If the golf thing doesn’t work for you: What work do you do that easily provides 1000 dollar an hour value to your business?

If the 1000 dollar an hour figure bothers you (I hope it doesn’t), try $500 or even $250. It’s possible that the work you do at this level is work that a client never sees, such as big picture planning (mission/vision/strategic stuff) work. Strategic planning and that sort of thing that drives your company for the next three to five years. Decision making at the highest level should be in this pile.

If you do this kind of work for clients (as I do), you probably know what it’s worth to them. Is this work that you can’t possibly delegate? Write that work down on your list.

You can categorize this work however you like (“Class A work”, “CEO work”, “Meat and potatoes”, etc). The idea is to remind yourself that this very high-value work that you can’t delegate is more important to your business than any other work. If it *can* be delegated, then it don’t put it on this list. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important, it just isn’t the MOST important.

One floor down

Once you’ve put everything you can think of on this super-important, cannot-be-delegated list, consider the work that is a level below that.

If this vision helps, consider the work that  gets done on the floor one flight of stairs below your CEO suite (which might just be your corner of the basement, bear with me).

This work is still very important, but the gap in value per hour provided to your company (no, not to your clients) vs. that on the level we just discussed might be substantial. That doesn’t make it unimportant, just less important than the earlier list.

Perhaps you do weekly group webinars online or some other form of group sales or lead generation (that’s marketing-speak for “doing the things that attract and find new prospects”). Creating the conceptual design of a new product or service. Creating new strategic partnerships with other vendors might also be on this list. Training your staff to do important tasks that you do now is probably on this list since it gives you more time to do “CEO level” work.

It’s possible to delegate this work, but it’s still valuable enough to the company that you feel it is worth your time to do it.

The goal? To do more of the right work. The work that advances your business in massive steps.

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Warren Buffett to Josh: Read, read, read

Creative Commons License photo credit: gualtiero

Today’s guest post is from Josh Whitford from over in Fargo, dere (hey, we’re both way up north here so I can say that dere).

Josh did a really smart and simple thing to get in touch with – and get advice from – Warren Buffett.

While it’s great to get advice from Mr. Buffett, the key thing here is not so much the specific task Josh was assigned but that he sought out the wisdom in the first place. Constant improvement is not a luxury, it’s a requirement.

Asking questions of those who know more than you (and/or know the success you want) is definitely a good strategy (ever hear of “Think and Grow Rich”?)

Speaking of, I’m on a quest to increase my reading to at a least a book a week this year. While it has impacted some other things negatively (at least from their perspective), I see positive results in my work, this blog (sometimes negative results – like far fewer posts), and life in general. Highly recommended.

And yes, I should be blogging about those weekly book adventures, shouldn’t I?