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When The Auditors Come Knocking At Naptime

It sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Time and energy audit. Like some guy in a suit is going to come to my office and demand to look at my books and audit where time and energy went. Well, we don’t need a guy in a suit. This is on you, my friend. You need to take a moment, take a breath, grab your diary, and have a look at what you’ve been doing with your life. Reflection is one of the most powerful tools in our armour, and don’t wait till your mid-life crisis or your heart attack or your divorce or your dead-end career or even your mid-mid-life crisis to do it. In the classes that I teach on Scaling Up, there is one piece of advice in the Cash section that is golden: Go to your banker and get the overdraft facility when times are good. They’ll look at your business, declare it legit, and give it to you, no problem. You just need the discipline not to overuse it, but you will have it. When the crap or the pandemic or the subprime mortgage meltdown hits you, you have a war chest. No way will they give you the facility then, because you’re in trouble. So, like the Bible said by way of those 7 fat and thin cows by way of Pharoah Elvis in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, or more popular in business circles Sun Tzu: In times of peace, prepare for war. In times of war, prepare for peace!

Ok, I got sidetracked. The point is, don’t wait for the meltdown to do the reflection work. Do it way before then. Here are the five steps to the time and energy audit, according to Buy Back Your Time by Dan Martell:

  1. Assess Time Allocation: This includes analyzing daily routines, work tasks, leisure activities, and personal commitments. Use our Retreat Workbook for an annual check-in, or the Sweet Spot worksheet for a weekly audit.

  2. Identify Time Wasters: I checked in on this. Procrastination, meetings, e-mails, distractions and micro-management are the top five things eating up leadership time. Could you track how much time you lose to these things?

  3. Energy Management: I talked about your Future Self in a previous blog. What do you find yourself doing that sucks your energy? Can you plan better to avoid doing those things, and if unavoidable, can you minimize their impact through a selection of stop, outsource, delegate or automate? Andy Clayton’s Sweet Spot book is great for this.

  4. Prioritization and Boundaries: What do you say no to? And why? To be a great no-sayer you need to be clear on your priorities. This is fundamental to the Four Disciplines of Execution. The second and third Habits in Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are “Begin with the end in mind” and “Put first things first.” Learn to say no with style and focus on what’s important.

  5. Optimizing Productivity: Well this isn’t really a step, but ChatGPT decided it’s a heading anyway. You do the other four things, you’ll spend more time doing what you love and are good at, you’ll spend less time with stuff that’s non-core and you’ll have better outcomes. Win.

So here’s my three-step simplification:

  1. Calculate (in hard hour numbers) how you spend your time.

  2. Figure out how you would like to spend your time with the best results.

  3. Execute a strategy to shift the hours from “as is” to “to be”.

- Figure out where you want to go

- Figure out the smaller steps to get there

- Curate your environment to focus on those steps

Ok yeah well fine. I cheated. Point 3 has sub-items, but I learned this trick from the guys at McKinsey. So sue me.

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