Imagine a close relative needs to be driven to the hospital and you don't have time to call an ambulance. You have to drive your relative to the hospital right away. So what do you do? You drive, don't you? And you get your relative to the hospital.
And obvious as it may sound, you got to the hospital because you could drive.
If you couldn't drive, you'd have to wait for an ambulance.
Or you'd have to hail a taxi (yeah, right!)
Or you'd have to persuade someone else to drive.
What you're losing is precious time
Just like business owners do every single day. In their desire to just get the job done, most business owners miss out on the big, unknown secret of time management: namely having considerable skill to do the job. This means that if a business owner has to change stuff on their website, or tweak some graphic, or do something that's related to their business, they have to wait for the ambulance. Or a taxi. Or someone else.
Or worse, they try to drive the “car” themselves
They aren't confident about driving the “car”. They know the difference between the clutch and the brake, but with their limited “driving” knowledge, they're a menace on the roads. They may kill themselves (and their passenger) and take a few other folks on the road with them as well.
I used to be that kind of business owner
I write a lot of books and create reports. And so I learned how to use the page layout program called Adobe InDesign. But because I was so keen to “get on with the job”, I only learned enough to get behind the wheel and play with the accelerator and clutch. This made me a menace on the job. I'd struggle to put a document together. I'd often not know what had gone wrong (and things would often go wrong). I fudge, fumble and grumble my way through it.
Of course I was wasting precious time
I was slow and inept because I refused to get a higher level of competency with the program. And not only was I wasting my own time, but I'd slow up deadlines of several projects. This ensured that I'd be permanently distracted (the more frustrated you are, the more time you spend checking email and Facebook updates) and the jobs would edge towards a “thank goodness that's over” finish.
Most business owners think they're saving time by getting the job out of the way
But in fact they're just wasting time. Your business is rarely restricted to your trade. So let's say you're a hairdresser, then you may believe it's your job to learn how to cut hair in the latest styles. And sure that's what you have to do. But you also have to learn how to use the technology that's around you. And you have to understand and control your marketing.
But surely you could outsource a whole bunch of things, couldn't you?
Sure you could. But there are things that are involved in marketing, technology and your trade that you shouldn't outsource. That if you simply took the time to learn the skills and keep the skills updated, you'd have remarkable control in a very short time.
Except there's one big problem: You don't have time to save time, right?
Who's got the time to learn this, that and the other? You're busy enough as it is, right? Right, and so was I. I was busy wasting time for a whole five years. I fumbled my way through InDesign and wasted enormous number of hours by being stubborn and idiotic. Then over three weeks in January, I spent an hour every day learning InDesign.
I probably spent thirty hours in all learning the program
And my productivity skyrocketed. Every time I turn on InDesign (and it's a reasonably detailed program) it's like jumping onto the swing at the playground. I'm in control. I know what I'm doing. I'm not getting frustrated. And most importantly, I'm saving enormous time. I'm a bit of an expert now, and I want to learn a whole lot more so I can save even more time.
If you want to save time you have to ask yourself: Am I so busy that I don't have time to save time?
It's a sobering question, isn't it?
And most folks would rather muddle their way through life saying “I don't have time” than learn how to “drive their car.” Once you learn to drive, you can drive anyone and anywhere. And if you choose, you can outsource what you don't want to do. But learn the skill. Then outsource.
Believe me. It's a time saver. Often a lifesaver!
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A great article, and you’re right so many of us don’t make time to save time.
You have a point an I guess it is a double edged sword. Once school of thought says we must leverage our time by using the art of delegation, yet we need control to be quick. I personally like to learn everything before I out source. In most trainings that I conduct, I discover that delegation seems to be a neglected skill – People just don’t want to let it go…I like your point because by learning a skill you create more options for yourself…
I am a firm believer in learning to do things myself. I recently wrote a similar article about “learning web design” to take control of your own success (for people starting online businesses). IMO, knowing how to manage a website is as essential as learning how to type. This is the information age… even if you are going to outsource, it’s good to have the knowledge about what is possible, how long it should take, and what it should cost.
I will start by finally trying to buy a copy of the Brain Audit for myself. Howzzat!
Please advise how do i get one copy for myself in India?
Sean D'Souza says
That’s the problem.
People listen to these big shots.
As a small business owner, you can’t do what big shots do.
So you quickly become dependent.
Malcolm Forbes didn’t live in our world.
The stuff we need to do today is far more complex.
And far more urgent.
And if we wait for someone else to do it, we may as well wait forever.
Brandon R Allen says
Generally you are right on the money. I am not so sure about this. While you should have some basic functionality with things. If your passion doesn’t lie in a certain aspect of your business then give it to someone who can do within the parameters that will keep you successful. Take bookkeeping. I could do my own books but I have a firm who will have me tax ready in 24 hours and have my books done right. It’s worth the money for me to not do something I hate and focus my time elsewhere.
Doing something yourself certainly doesn’t equal productivity. Your indesign is a great fit for your business and makes sense for your business but I m sure there are plenty of other activities that are best left to someone else.
Sean D'Souza says
I don’t do book keeping. 🙂
So no, I’m not suggesting you have control over everything. I should have made it clearer.
1) Your trade skill
These to me were the core of what you need to keep on top of to be very efficient.