How to spot the time suck

Guide to Identifying and Managing Distractions

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working with tiime management
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How to do more with less effort

There has been the theme in the house this week: How can you do more with less? My kiddo learned how to take her room from disaster zone to Pinterest-worthy in 20 minutes by looking around and asking “what would make the biggest impact” over and over with each step.

This is also how I coach my clients:

What’s the biggest bang for the buck, and where’s the time suck?

Working smarter, not harder, holds the key to a relaxed, stress-free, and successful life. It’s creating habits and routines that get rid of friction and create focus on the good stuff. But, how do you know what to focus on?

Create your own Effort / Impact grid

A project manager in my studio shared this handy tool with me and instantly I was in love. Mentally we do this all the time: evaluate and assess. But when it’s written down there seems to be a bit more clarity.

Effort/Impact Grid for ROI

You want to live in the green (great) and yellow (good) zones. If it takes lots of effort and gives you low yield, look for a shift on how to do that task. Most of the time that’s outsourcing the task. If it’s in the red zone, leave it alone for now. It’s also important to look back and see if the red zone is just a “marshmallow wall”—I talked about that here—and you’re in need of a mindset reset on the task at hand.

I like to keep this exercise loose and fast. I use sticky notes and put them down on a table in a grid, this way I can move them around and not get caught up in how it looks.

Here’s an exercise when I ask the question: “What will create the most traffic to my blog”

My own sticky note impact grid for generating more traffic

Here’s what that same exercise looks like when I ask the question: “What will make the most financial impact”

My own sticky note impact grid for generating revenue

Depending on my immediate need, I evaluate: what moves the needle the fastest? Where am I spinning my wheels? Now I know where to spend my day/week/month.

Here’s how you’re going to do yours:

  1. Create a list of all the tasks and areas where you spend your time. Put each task on a sticky note
  2. Then categorize the output that is generated from them in terms of High Impact or Low Impact. (For business, Impact should be measured in actual sales first, brand awareness second.)
  3. Now, evaluate each item in terms of the Effort it takes to create that task (see table.) Effort is measured in both time, resources, like staff or money, and emotional effort. Use this formula to help you decide what’s working and what’s not.
  4. Using the grid, notice you want to be spending your time in the top left-hand quadrant.
  5. For the yellow and orange quadrants, look for ways to increase the impact, or reduce the effort.
  6. Anything that is in the red quadrant should be ignored for right now and seen as a “nice to have.”

By being aware of where you’re spending your time, you can quickly cut out the noise, get rid of the busywork and overwhelm, and start making some big moves. Every time you create a little win for yourself, you’ll feel good and want more of that. This charting tool is good for all areas of your life. Feel free to create two lists, one for your personal life and one for business.

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