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Check your Calendar.

By June 3, 2015Advice, Business



In most businesses there are two kinds of activity, “Minding” i.e. looking after the work you have, your business, and your existing clients or customers and “Finding” i.e. looking for new customers, new opportunities and ways to grow your business.

Its easy to get caught up in the the “busyness” of business. “Parkinson’s Law – Work expands to fill the time available” is alive and well in many of the businesses I have seen, including, at times, my own. In a recent review of our business activity we identified that the majority of our time in the last year had been spend in “Minding” and that we had spent insufficient time on “Finding”.

Our solution was to examine a full year calendar and compress the “minding” work into a defined timeframe to allow us the space, both real space and head space, to focus on growing our business. As my team put it, we needed to identify that work which needed to be done in the year, and “smash it”.

By a short but sustained effort we were able to get through the work which had previously occupied much of a year in about 3 months. This was achieved by a combination of concentrated effort, better use of technology and refinement of our business processes. It’s not that we were inefficient or lazy to begin with, just that we asked “what if”. What if we only had 3 months to get through this stuff, what would we need to do to achieve our goal. We found that many of our processes resulted in duplication of effort, had inbuilt unnecessary delays, and contained redundant steps.  One important thing we identified was that at several stages in our process we ceded control of completion of the process to people outside our business, be they clients or suppliers

The keys to our success were:

1. Identify those repeating activities which are taking up much of your business year

2. Review how you go about achieving completion of these activities

3. Ask “What If” I needed to get all of this done in half (or less) of the time it is presently taking.

4. Refine your process, look for ways to better use existing technology, identify redundant steps, ensure you maintain control of process completion wherever possible.

5. Examine your calendar and block out a period in which to “smash it”

Our refined process is now the new norm for us, and will deliver benefits for a long period into the future. We will need to continually review and refine our processes and our calendar to ensure that Parkinson’s Law does not creep in once again.

Of course, the next challenge is to ensure that you properly utilise the time you have freed up. It is tempting to take a deep breath and relax after such a period of intense activity, but that wasn’t why you subjected yourself to the level of pressure was it? A level of discipline is needed to then focus your attention on the “finding”, to concentrate on growth strategies to realise the full benefit of your efforts.

I’m not sure who said “Business would be great without customers”, but that is not what I am talking about here. Of course we need to deliver a level of service to our customers and clients that compels them to refer us to family friends and colleagues, but if we do this efficiently, in a time frame over which we have control, better service can only result. This will then allow us to properly deal with those new customers which we all need for growth, both in terms of finding them, and in delivering service to them once found.

Not all businesses can block out a 3 month period in which to deal with the “Minding” as the nature of their activity does not allow for that. What you can do though is focus on a week or a month, block out time for “doing the doing”, work really hard in those periods to ensure completion, thus freeing up time in the week or the month to find ways to grow your business, and beware the temptation of allowing this work to expand to fill all of your time.

Try it, I’m sure you will like it.

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