Each Monday we focus on one activity you can do today or over the next week to build yourself a better business. These short, actionable posts will show you what steps you need to take to take your business to the next level. We are almost at the end of this series, but in case you’ve missed the previous posts, you can catch up here: 20 Days to Build A Better Business.

This is Day 18: Focus on Results, not on time

Most people focus on time as a measure of their output. For example "I spent 4 hours preparing for that client meeting" or "3 days preparing that presentation." Put another way, most people account for time, not what they do with it. This is the wrong way around. If business owners or entrepreneurs focused on a result (or an output) rather than an input (eg time) then they could start to be far more productive and get much better results in less time. For example:  If you were an investor and you read two newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times (both essentially covering similar topics) What would be the point in reading the same articles in The Financial times and The Wall Street Journal? It would be a waste of time. The best use of time would be to focus on articles or topics in The Wall Street Journal where it was strongest (generally the US and Americas) and the articles in The Financial Times where it was strongest or provided better coverage (generally Europe and the Far East). The benefits of this approach are twofold: 1) You spend less time getting the information 2) You leverage two great resources to get the best information out of both of them. Most people read a book cover to cover. ie they start on the first page and read all the way to the end. But this might not be the best use of time. If after the first chapter you find yourself disagreeing with the author or you find the writing style heavy going, is it really worth your time continuing with the persevering reading the book? Are you really going to get anything out of it by carrying on? When you read something you need to be clear with yourself what your intend to get out of reading it. If you don't have a clear intention about what you expect to achieve then you're just hoping that you might find a gem which might be of use. Chances are you won't find something useful with a random approach. So, when you pick up something to read, attend a conference or a supplier meeting, be clear in your own mind about what you expect to achieve out of that book, conference or meeting. If it isn't meeting your expectations, then feel free to cut it short, put it down, walk out or do something else. Similarly stop working in hours.  Work expands to fill the time available to do it. If you set your meeting lengths to a shorter period then that focuses your mind to achieve what you need to achieve in that time. But once you've achieved what you need to achieve, wrap up the meeting. Don't feel compelled to carry on.  

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