I've been reflecting on what's important in my business and personal life. Part of this reflection comes from contemplating my business--what direction to take it and how to make it better. Part of it was prompted by the recent tragedies in the news. Time often seems to move too fast and things happen that are outside of our control.
To achieve our goals, it's important to remember to manage our time effectively and focus on what's really important, on tasks that move us closer to achieving a longer-term goals.
Borrowing from Dr. Stephen Covey, try this exercise: imagine having a bucket of tiny pebbles, dozens of small rocks, and a small number of big rocks. The rocks represent all the things you need to accomplish and the bucket represents time and resources.
All of the pebbles and rocks can fit in the bucket, but only when placed in the proper order. If you put the big rocks in first, you can fit the remaining smaller rocks and pebbles around the big rocks. But if you put the pebbles and smaller rocks in the bucket first, you won’t be able to fit the big rocks in.
This little exercise shows why it's important to focus on the big rocks first, on the important tasks to reach your goals.
It's easy to get distracted by little things. We're all so easily tempted to responding to non-critical emails, schedule or attend unimportant meetings. We're all so easily distracted by clients who habitually take too much of our time. It's so easy to let people drop-in for a visit and hijack the day, or to get caught up with Facebook, LinkedIn, or surfing the Web. Such distractions leave less time to work on tasks and projects that are important to reaching short- and long-term goals. The little things, the pebbles pull us off course, when the big rocks are what should get attention.
The big rocks are the three to five most important things you and your staff need to accomplish in a given period of time. They represent those tasks and projects that are critically important to the firm’s growth and success as opposed to things that we may perceive as important but are often just “time thieves.”
The big rocks are priorities. They provide the focus and drive the tasks and projects each employee works on and keep the firm from drifting off course. When they become the focus of everyone in the firm, the rocks also become the main topic of conversation at meetings and employee reviews. A few of these would include: “Are we on track to reaching the big rocks?” “If not, why?” “What course of action do we need to change or add?” “Did my employee reach their big rocks during the year?”
Review your big rocks twice a week. On Monday, identify what needs to get done during the week. On Friday, review your (your staff’s) progress during the week to see if you are staying on course.
The “rocks” analogy is not only applicable to working on business but also on our personal issues. Spend time on the big rocks including… family, faith, health, friends, education, supporting a cause, making a difference in the lives of others.
This analogy is equally applicable to the lives of your clients. I’m sure some of them struggle with these same challenges and it can help them focus on what is most important to them. It might also start a dialog between you and your clients regarding what is important to them and help develop a deeper client-advisor relationship. If you know what their big rocks are, you can incorporate them into their overall financial plan.
Build your business wisely, live your life wiser.
If you would like to see Dr. Covey demonstrate the analogy, Google “Stephen Covey Big Rocks.” There are a few different versions posted.