In a previous material, I touched on the three methods or three approaches to how I tackle what goes into my time. The first one is the “anything and everything approach”, the second one is “causal management”, and the third one is the utopia, the highest level of the second method called “scheduled creation”.
Now, my next talking point and goal is to explain how causal management is a powerful method of running a calendar and how relaxing in the numbers is the holy grail of many businesses.
Putting the Big Rocks First
Many people know the story of the large five-gallon glass milk jug. The “jar of life” story, a metaphor used by Dr. Stephen Covey in his book First Things First, is a great analogy of casual management. This is figuring out the important things only you can take care of and focusing on them until you hit the numbers you need to hit.
The story goes like this. There is a guy on a stage and he puts these large rocks in the jug. It fills up until overflowing, and then he asks “is it full?” Half of the audience says “yes, you did a good job”, but the other half is not sure. Then, he takes out a couple bucket loads of pebbles and puts them in, and he shakes the jug. They all settle, and the pebbles are overflowing. He says, “OK, is it full now?” Half of the audience agrees while the other half is still unsure. He grabs a couple litters of sand. He shakes it. And then he asks again, “Is it full?” And one guy in the back says “No, you can still add water”.
Everybody needs to picture their week like that five-gallon jug. The point of that story is you can’t do it backwards. You can’t put the water in first, then the sand, then the pebbles, then the big rocks. You will only get a few big rocks in and they won’t fit. Life and business move forward when the big rocks are put first.
So, the “big rocks” concept is known as causal management. Whatever big rocks move your company like certain sales, certain marketing, whatever is the mover, you have got to make sure as a business manager, business leader, or owner, that you are putting the big rocks in first. Many time management experts will tell you that you have to do it in the morning in case the day gets away from you, which is true. I absolutely recommend you to carefully assess your calendar and get to work earlier than usual.
Relaxing in the numbers is the holy grail of many businesses.
Dr. Stephen Covey took causal management to a whole new level. He wrote the famous question: What one thing if done consistently and superbly well gets you everything you have always wanted and takes away all of your pain? Many of you can answer this question numerically well.
- “If we ran 20 commercials a week, man, we would be done. We would be set.”
- “If we knocked on 300 doors a month as a company, we would hit all of our numbers.”
- “If we showed 3 presentations a day, we would be there.”
- “Or, if we as a company maintained 35 active sales reps, we can absolutely achieve our goals.”
Now, if you can answer that question numerically, then I need to suggest to you all that 60% of your week, if you do a Monday through Friday , or whatever, 3 days in a row, 60% of your week needs to be spent doing whatever it takes to insure those numbers are hit. This allows you to do what is called relaxing in the numbers. If you can use causal management and come up with a number, and then you can build your big rocks into your personal calendar, in the mornings, then you can literally build a company that will allow you to truly relax in the numbers.
If the business could just figure out the recipe to guarantee consistent numbers hit, then they can relax. This pursuit led a gentleman named Tim Ferris to write his famous book – The Four Hour Work Week. The underlying principle of that book is that most results come from short bursts of focused effort not a grinding out of the doing anything – doing everything approach to business.
Tim Ferris decides to write a book and to prove to the world that you can put in tiny short bursts of focused effort and get tremendous results, but you have got to do one thing. You often have to shut off all other forms of communications. At some point in the book, Tim told the world that there are two times a week he checks email. Most people reading that would probably say “What? Wait a minute! I can check email only Monday at ten and Thursday at noon?” People would say that is impossible. Yet the truth is Tim proves in that book that people run emails. Emails do not run people.
Scheduled Creation. The Balance between Performance & Assessment
Let’s say I am away recording a podcast or writing a book. It’s a Monday and my autoresponder on my email clearly tells the world that I am away from my desk until late Thursday. Why do I do this? Because I practice the highest level of causal management which is known as scheduled creation.
I have found that our company’s greatest growth comes from times when I shut the world off, truly think, and create. I create podcasts, I write books, I study the market, I create new products. I live the rule that I can only do what only I can do. I believe God put me on this earth to do certain things. I don’t think he put me here to answers emails. I am pretty sure God did not put me here to have Skype meetings. I think God put me on the Earth to read, study markets, assess things, and then create things.
I believe in what I do. During the weekends, when there is no phone, skypes, etc., I assess the coming week. I settle down and think “if this week finishes, what causal management big rocks can I put in to ensure the numbers were already hitting continue to grow, to ensure the podcast continue to get creative at a high level, the books continue to get written?”
When nobody is attacking me, when the world is silent, I then set the schedule. I strongly recommend you to not try to set your schedule during the week. During the week is the time of performance. During the weekend is the time of thinking.
Remember business utopia is when you can relax in the numbers. I can, from 24 years’ experience, tell you it is a lot easier to relax in the numbers when you put the big rocks in first. And when you can put the big rocks in succession, those numbers are hit.
Setting Aside Time to Focus
Kevin Kruse showed the world in 2015 that the brain goes from full energy to complete fatigue in as little as 90 minutes. It depends on what it’s working at. After interviewing seven billionaires, he tells us that the most successful people today, schedule what he refers to as solo concentration periods.
For instance, my buddy Ron Fossum, an extraordinary business man, is the only person in the office on Fridays. Friday is Ron’s day. He sets aside time to simply think. It’s not an accident that Ron runs the Smart Money Financial Group, one of the most successful firms in the United States.
Bottom line, Ron takes time to concentrate on what is truly important. And Kruse points out that the most successful people today are setting aside time for themselves. He is not talking about groups getting together to focus. This is solo concentration.
In the context of the massive push against everybody with technology these days, sucking up our time, solo concentration periods are proving more poignantly as some of the greatest time management techniques. Bottom line, it’s simply has to be forced into work.
First, you have to realize it, then you have to physically use causal management to jam the big rocks into your schedule, with no distractions for a period of hours or days, and finally, you win. You hit those numbers.