Join my FREE business growth workout!

And I'll show you how to grow your business, work less and make more money with proven strategies that work right now...

  • get more clients without cold calling
  • reduce costs, without cutting service
  • know your numbers, without knowing numbers
  • what tools to use to make you more productive
  • Plus much, much more

Get Instant Access To My Free Business Growth Workout

Work With Me

You, Me, Big Results.

Learn More →

Blog

Regularly updated straight from the vine

Learn More →

FREE Resources

Not your average Business Toolbox

Learn More →
Home » Random

20 Days To Build a Better Business: Day 18 Focus on Results, Not Time

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.  

8 Comments »

  • Rob Cubbon said:

    This is very pertinent to me at the moment, Matthew. I’m signed up to so many “gurus” email lists and my browser has so many open tabs of stuff I need to read/watch. I need to edit down my weekly info intake.

    You’re right that we’re time obsessed. The quotes you make: “I spent 4 hours preparing for that client meeting” or “3 days preparing that presentation” remind me of C. Northcote Parkinson’s saying “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Not exactly the same thing but it recognises that a lot of work time is wasted time.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Absolutely Rob, that’s a comment that frequently springs to mind when there’s plenty of time available.

    A low information diet certainly helps you get more done!

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Matthew

  • Rick Byrd said:

    Matthew:

    I am definitely guilty of focusing on time, especially wasted time. The more positive way to look at it is to focus on the result.

    Take today for instance. I took off today from my full-time job and decided I would focus on my internet business. My first mistake was I opened my email. I have so much email and so many webinars to watch that my results today were minimal. I read the same emails and listened to the same information on these webinars that I really did lose focus on the results I wanted for today.

    I have created a sticky note to place on my monitor that says “Focus On Results, Not Time”.

    I should have read your post early this morning and I might have been more productive today.

    Take care!

    – Rick

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Rick

    I’m honoured that on your day off that you’ve taken the time to catch up with what’s going on here!

    I’m glad the post has been a source of inspiration for you too!

    Perhaps I should offer desk magnets or something with the focus on results, not on time mantra printed on them!

    Cheers

    Matthew

  • Henway said:

    Great point… I apply this principle to my friendships and relationships too, and also my job. If they stop serving me, and no longer are aligned with my purpose, I just cut them short.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Henway, I’d also add that you need to surround yourself with positive people who can help you achieve your goals.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Matthew

  • Steve@Internet Lifestyle said:

    Matthew,

    I like this idea. It is certainly the work that is the important thing. It is, and should be, all about results. If person a can do in 3 Hours what it takes person B to do in 8. That is great.

    I run my tasks by strict time blocks. But they are “task oriented” time blocks. In my way these are fighting the concept of “the time it takes to do a job expands to fill the time you give it” These work blocks are fairly short (50 mins) and I am always scrambling to get as much completed in the time as possible.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Steve, glad you’ve found a productivity idea of use 🙂

    As I would expect from you, you have a system and a clearly defined process for making it work.

    Have you used the Pomodoro Technique? http://bigredtomatocompany.co.uk/posts/pomodoro-technique/

    Thanks for the comment, Matthew