Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Power of Energy

I'm flying back from a business trip right now.  My intent was to read during the two hour trip, and instead I spent most it passed out in my seat. Thankfully I woke up long enough snap that photo of the clouds hovering over Oregon [and write this post].

And then I got to thinking about energy and productivity. So here come some thoughts while cruising in an airplane... Tired...

I don't know about you, but I have clear energy patterns, which I leverage to be productive.

1) I'm a morning person. I'm WAY too chipper at 6am. I'm positive and can take on anything. Therefore, I try to structure my day to get the important things done in the morning. I even go as far as waiting until the afternoon to workout and shower to not waste that morning energy, and give me an afternoon boost. The apartment project doesn't allow for that, but that'll end... Eventually...

2) I can handle minimal sleep for 2 nights in a row. And by minimal I mean less than 7. I have never pulled an all-nighter, and don't want to. I got close last night with only 2 hours of sleep thanks to a late working session combined with an early flight. The previous night was also minimal (5 hrs). I already know that I'll be fine today and can continue to push myself once I land. However, I also know that I absolutely MUST go to bed semi-early tonight, or tomorrow will be bad. Low Energy introduces lots of mistakes on my part.

3) I need to change my setting regularly. For some reason, after 2 weeks of working in the same place, I start to goof-off and get less done. A LOT less.  I find that if I change my setting, even just slightly, my productivity jumps back up. For example, I move from working at my desk to on the couch. I change my chair from a ball to a regular chair. I use a monitor, I don't. I work from home, and then in the office. I only have to do it for a day, and I reset. Again, it's a noticeable amount. That's weird, right?

I learned these patterns by testing and paying attention. In college, I experimented with waking up crazy early to study instead of staying up crazy late. I learned that I read twice as fast in the morning. So waking up 1 hour early was the equivalent of staying up 2 hours later. This was easy math and I started going to bed at 9pm and waking up between 4am and 5am when I had a lot of homework.

4) Being too busy is a function of over committing.  I still need to get better at saying no. I also need to get better at delegating tasks. The apartment project has been a huge learning experience. For example, even though I was away on business, the guys kept working & Jessi gave me regular text updates. How cool is that?! I need to do more of that. The book I'm not reading right now is called "Landlording on Autopilot". So my intentions are good. I just need to somehow be less busy so I can focus on being less busy... Going back to delegating: The trick, is to have the task be valuable enough that you can afford to split the reward with someone. You also need to be in a place of authority to make that decision. Being an employee doesn't allow for it. Running a slim-margin business doesn't either.

Well... It's time to store my device for landing. Thanks for reading! Do you have any weird things you've noticed that affects your productivity?

Friday, November 07, 2014

When To Delegate

(Image: Some of the bathrooms didn't have an electrical outlet. Weird, right? I hired a friend who's an electrician and we spent a weekend adding electricity to the bathrooms.)

When buying the apartment building, we knew we were going to hire people to help. The big question though was what I would delegate and what I would do myself. Around that same time Inc had an interesting article called "When to Delegate? Try the 70 Percent Rule" (via LifeHacker). Here's the main point:
"Smart CEOs, on the other hand, use the "70 percent rule." Put simply, if the person the CEO would like to perform the task is able to do it at least 70 percent as well as he can, he should delegate it. Is it frustrating that the task won't be done with the same degree of perfection or perceived perfection that the CEO himself could achieve? Sure! But let go of perfection. Is it easier said than done? Yes, certainly. But there is no place for perfection when it comes to delegation. The upside for the CEO is that he doesn't need to spend any time on the task--zero. The "return on time" doesn't spend on that task is infinite, in addition to gaining that same time to invest in a higher impact project."
This helped point me the right direction. It also helped that I'm not a master craftsmen, so the barrier is pretty low. :)

After a few days of observation, I got a good idea of their skill level and was able to pick the tasks I would do verses the ones they would do. For example, I built a new wall because I had the vision and expertise. I let them patch large sections of drywall because 70% would still look good enough.

It also got me thinking about other aspects of my business, like accounting and record keeping. I'm good at it, but it does take time. Is this something I could delegate? Would 70% be good enough? Honestly, no. It would need to be pretty close to 100%. Then I started thinking about systems. Is there a way to build a system that makes it easy enough to run that 70% is more a question of how long it takes instead of the accuracy? That sounds quite do-able. McDonalds figured it out, I could too.

So that's my next step. To focus on building systems that will enable me to easily delegate a task without having to worry about too many errors being made.