After working in and owning small businesses for over 30 years I have concluded there are a number of Laws which, if applied consistently, will enable small business owners to maximise their personal productivity. These Laws can be distilled down into a single sentence and if you only take one thing from this blog, then take the following sentence.
Focus on what is important and take some action.
If you adhere to this philosophy, all your important activities will get addressed. Let’s look at the individual Laws in a little detail.
Law 1 – The Law of Goals. Knowing what you want is key and you determine what actions to take by reviewing where you are along the path to achieving each goal. It will be helpful to maintain a list of “next actions” for every goal you are working towards. Knowing your goals helps you to work out whether or not an action is important. Of course, there is little value in taking action on a task that needn’t be completed. Using your goals and list of “next actions” you can focus your energies on tasks that really matter.
Law 2 – The Law of Greatest Impact. Of all the possible actions open to you, look for those tasks which will have the greatest impact. Focus on those 20% of actions that directly produce 80% of the desired outcomes. Leverage your time as much as possible.
Law 3 – The Law of Scheduling. Ordering all the activities that need to be completed to achieve your goal allows you to develop a schedule for their completion. By working to this plan you will maintain your momentum towards your goal and it will help to minimise your tendency to procrastinate and switch between activities.
Law 4 – The Law of Urgency & Importance. By using the Law of Scheduling you will bring considerable order into your life. Things will now happen when you plan them to happen and you will spend far less time reacting to the demands of others. Crisis management comes about when you are swamped with urgent, time-critical tasks. These always demand to be treated as top-priority and this means all your planned activities will fall behind schedule.
The strategy of handling Important / Unimportant / Urgent / Non-Urgent tasks is addressed in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Your aim is to minimise tasks that are both urgent and important (crisis level activity) and replace them with non-urgent and important tasks (measured and managed activity). It is fair to say there is little value in doing unimportant tasks at any time.
Law 5 – The Law of Reciprocity. This is often referred to as ‘Give to Get’. In essence, you should aim to provide others with help and assistance without any expectation of getting something in return. This is the Giving part. Good examples here are offers to download a free eBook, audio or video which imparts information that will be of value to the recipient. Good deeds and value will then come back in your direction, but not necessarily from the same people that you have previously helped. This is the Get part.
However, if you ever link your giving to the getting of something back from the same recipient, you have moved the activity from Give to Get to a simple transaction. This is subtly different but the consequences are significant because a transaction doesn’t trigger the Law of Reciprocity.
Law 6 – The Law of Delayed Rewards. This comes into existence as a result of the Law of Reciprocity. When you give value of some sort to a prospect or an existing client, there will not be an immediate response. You will not receive something straight away. There is a delay from you doing good deeds to you receiving your rewards. This delay might be measured in days, weeks, months or even years. Sometimes it is hard to maintain your enthusiasm to give value to people if you feel you aren’t getting anything back in return. People often give up with Give to Get just before they are to receive their rewards. Never give up and always be ready give and to receive.
Law 7 – The Law of Attraction. This Law is one of the oldest Laws of the Universe and it states that you have attracted everything you have in your life because of the way you behave, the way you think and the way you treat other people. Enjoy what is good in your life. Look at the things you aren’t so happy with and investigate how it is you have attracted them into your life. Make the necessary changes so that you only attract what you want.
- Laws 1 – 4 help you to become clear on what tasks need to be performed and in what order to give you the greatest return on your efforts. Focus on these Laws and put them into practice for the next 30 days, until they become a habit.
- Once you are on top of prioritizing and scheduling your tasks, move onto Laws 5, 6 and 7. Look at what is happening in all parts of your life and explore how you could help other people who you know. Ignore the question “what’s in it for me?”
- Concentrate on minimizing crisis-level activities and focus, instead, on measured and managed activities as defined in Law 4. Read Stephen Covey’s book.