You may have heard the phrase before that “time is the great equalizer.” Let that sink in for a moment. Everyone, no matter who they are, only gets 24 hours in a day. We can’t purchase extra hours in our day, nor can we sell our unused hours. So carefully thinking through how we spend these precious 24 hours is critical to our success in both our work lives and our personal lives. How do we structure our days so that they are both fulfilling and productive?
Thinking about my career in PPC, time is a topic that comes up frequently. We look at our full calendars and say, “I don’t have time for anything today,” or we examine our team’s capacity and think, “No one on my team has the time to take on anything else.” And while we are all definitely busy, is it really true that no one has any time to spare? Or are we making choices that are designed to put us in that position?
I listened closely to the feedback from team members and worked with them to find time that they could put back into their day. Below are a few of the things I learned.
People simply don’t delegate enough. That’s not a groundbreaking discovery. However, the reason they don’t delegate is either because they believe that no one else has any time to help or they don’t feel that they have the time to invest into teaching another team member how to complete the required task. I often hear, “I did it myself because it would just be faster that way.” That might be true, but by thinking this way people are missing out on a great opportunity. Teach another team member a skill and they are now empowered to be able to take on that task again and again. So, while it may feel like an initial time investment is involved with this delegation, the return on your time investment will be exponential.
Meetings About Meetings
When I asked most of my team what the biggest infringement on their work time was, the most popular answer was “too many meetings.” Looking at my own calendar, I can certainly agree with that. But when I delved into this a little bit deeper, I discovered that many people had meetings on their calendar NOT because they were talking about impactful things, but rather because they felt obligated to provide the client with a meeting. To correct this, we looked at two things. First, are bi-weekly calls more effective than weekly calls? In most cases, the answer turned out to be yes. When examining account performance bi-weekly, there is so much more data to sink your teeth into, which leads to a much more productive discussion with the client. Conversations are able to focus on testing results, learnings, and next steps instead of general status items.
Second, are the calls too long? When examining how people were conducting calls, I came across people who set weekly calls for an hour while others had their weekly calls set for 30 minutes. Looking closely at those who set calls for an hour, I learned that oftentimes there’s not a ton that can be revealed in an hour call that’s weekly, but yet it felt like an obligation to provide the client with what they had always been given. I challenged people to shorten the length of their calls and even cancel calls when there was nothing impactful to discuss. In the end, there was no client resistance to this and everyone was grateful to have some time back into their day.
Is This Making An Impact?
One of the most dangerous phrases in business is “We’ve always done it this way.” So often, we take on tasks because they are things that we have always done. But are they making an impact on account performance? If we stopped doing these things, what would the result be for the client? Would they even notice? When I challenged people to think about this, they were able to come up with “routine tasks” that were taking up time in their week that were not making any impact on account performance. After we talked it through, we concluded that the expertise the client hired us to bring them is not found in these routine tasks. Rather, it’s found in testing and learning, solving their problems, and devising a strategy that is going to result in long-term success for them. Once they let go of the non-impactful tasks, hours opened up in their week where they could focus on the things that mattered most. In the end, they enjoyed their days more and the client was more impressed with the level of service we were bringing them.
Time being the great equalizer is something that affects every single one of us. I encourage all of you to take a few moments and truly evaluate where your time is going. Own your schedule. Do things because they will make an impact, not because you’ve always done them. Be forthcoming to those you work with about why you are canceling meetings or no longer doing certain tasks and let them understand how everyone will be better off for it.