As I work with senior executives, sales leaders and salespeople, I’ve observed a trait that is common among top-performers in all three roles: The very best executives, managers and individual contributors are Selfishly Productive.
I started incorporating the description Selfishly Productive into team sessions I was leading a few months back and noticed what an impact that phrase had on the audience. So, like any good consultant or coach does when something works, I started using it more. And now as I walk the halls of client companies I smile hearing people talk about the importance of being selfishly productive.
Why is this on my mind? Because everyday, in almost every organization, I see under-performers underperform for a very simple reason: They don’t spend anywhere near enough time focused on their primary job or their highest payoff activities. Said differently, there are a whole lot of managers failing to produce results because they spend the majority of their days in reactive mode, wearing the fire chief’s helmet, instead of focusing their attention on the very few activities that can move the needle on their team’s results. Beyond the daily firefighting, these managers and executives are overwhelmed in details and buried in administrative work. Somehow, under the guise of “being lean,” the very few people who can most impact an organization’s performance have gotten sucked into day-to-day minutia – playing administrator, planning travel, trying to coordinate meetings around everyone’s packed calendars. It’s absurd.
I know it’s absurd because earlier this year I was committed to doing all of this myself in my own business. Administrative work became the bane of my existence. My inbox overflowed with inbound requests – many valid and valuable, but many a complete waste. Managing email became an overwhelming task. Planning travel, something I actually like to do, was taking more and more time, and becoming a painful burden. And scheduling meetings with clients and others who wanted my time was overwhelming, almost paralyzing, because of the pace I was running.
My high-value, high-payoff activities are crystal clear to me. The best, most productive and most profitable use of my business time is when I am doing one of three things – consulting and coaching clients, creating content, or meeting with potential clients. Period. I hope as you read this, your high-value, high-payoff activities are quickly coming to mind!
The odd reality for me was that the more success I was having with my business, the less and less time I was able to spend doing what I loved, what I am best at, and what most moved the needle for my clients and me. I was stretched and stressed, and knew something had to give. I had starting reading Michael Hyatt’s blog and getting great value from his insights on leadership, productivity and building your platform. And right as I was coming to grips that I was either going to drown or implode if I didn’t make changes or get some help, I found one of Hyatt’s posts describing his own journey using virtual assistants. He had discovered a company called eaHelp and couldn’t say enough good things about them. And now five months later, neither can I!
My virtual executive assistant is Mary. She lives in the Chicago area. We communicate by email, phone, text and Facetime. Because of the wonderful job Mary and eaHelp are doing for me, I am no longer drowning under the administrative burdens of my practice. I certainly am having more fun, and am significantly more effective, productive and profitable. I am learning how to let go of things I don’t need to be doing so I can spend more time on the big three high-payoff activities described above.
Michael Hyatt just published an ebook that is titled “The Virtual Assistant Solution: Come up for Air, Offload the Work You Hate, And Focus on What You Do Best.” Even though I already use an executive assistant from the very company he recommends, I plunked down $3 to purchase the book, knowing I’d get value from Hyatt and ideas how to maximize the effectiveness of using a virtual assistant. Hyatt didn’t disappoint and this book prompted me to offload even more of the work I hate to Mary. In fact, I have decided to direct several of my clients to The Virtual Assistant Solution because I believe their eyes will be opened to how poorly they spend much of their time.
Let me leave you with a few challenges:
- Ms. Executive and Mr. Manager, how much is your time worth? What do you earn per hour?
- What are your three highest-payoff activities? What percent of your time is spent there?
- Where are you currently drowning in details and administrative work that someone else can and should be doing?
- How can you increase your impact and effectiveness by becoming more Selfishly Productive?
*Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this, am not being paid in any way to share this information, and I have no affiliate relationship with Michael Hyatt. The link provided to Amazon is a generic link and I will not be compensated if you purchase this book or engage the services of eaHelp. Having said that, if you’re in management, invest the three bucks and 30 minutes to read this book.