Time is a zero-sum game; a ‘yes’ to low-value tasks is a ‘no’ to a higher-value project.
What is getting in the way of allocating time to your strategy and project work each quarter?
Our clients faced this question at their recent accountability meetings with their respective Slipstream coaches. Whilst some clients have certainly mastered their time management, others acknowledge they struggle and have identified what holds them back.
Those who find spending time on strategy, project, and creative work a challenge identified their top obstacles as:
- Days filled with admin and money-earning work (i.e. red/blue work)
- Failure to plan enough time to achieve all tasks.
- Finding it quicker to complete tasks than to delegate them to others.
Color-Coding Business Priorities
We encourage firm owners to find capacity by colour-coding tasks to become more efficient. Owners who follow this plan free up the time needed to execute their projects. Our coaches have found that accountants and financial planners who truly focus on capacity and time management tend to get to where they want, faster.
Work and personal time should be planned in a 90-day cycle. The 90 days should incorporate annual leave, public holidays, and personal development etc and leave an allowance for unforeseen circumstances such as sick days.
Whilst we are unsure who originally came up with the Red, Blue and Black colour coding concept, our Director of Coaching, Scott Charlton has used this framework as a basis and added his personal stamp of ‘Gold’ time.
Red – Keeping the Doors Open
Red refers to general business administration and non-chargeable tasks such as payroll, HR, premises, IT, compliance etc. If you are not careful, red activity can take up most of your day. Many of these tasks can be outsourced. We encourage you to restructure the responsibilities of your team to move as many red tasks off your desk as possible. A winning formula is limiting the time spent in red to 20% or less.
Blue – Earning Today’s $$
In blue mode, you concentrate on ‘doing the work’. Delivering on client work, proposals, invoicing, scheduling, and client face to face time. This is comfortable territory for Accountants and Financial Planners. The ideal amount of time spent in blue for working principals is approximately 60%.
Black – Building Your Firm of the Future
Planning, strategising, projects, budgeting, future resourcing, and establishing systems are among the key tasks that sit in black mode. Ideally, you want to spend 10% of your time in black. One thing to note, is that black and gold activities are hard to dip in and out of, and as such, require larger blocks of time, keep that in mind when planning our your 90-day rhythm. The more quality time you’re spending in black, the more you’re building a better business for tomorrow. Without black tomorrow looks like today.
Gold – Capturing and Developing Secret Sauce
This is when you are going to be working on the things that set your firm apart from the rest – the products/services tailored to your ideal clients, the research into what the needs those clients have, developing strategy papers and content. You don’t want interruptions during these activities. Give thought as to when you are going to be at your inspired best. Some people book an extra day after a conference or after a coaching meeting for such activities. This is when you are out of your normal environment and likely to be thinking more strategically.
Top 10 Obstacles to Black and Gold Productivity
Spending too much time in red and blue can squash your growth potential as it’s the time spent in Black and Gold that propels a firm’s growth and strategic direction. Slipstream Group surveyed a panel of practitioners to find out what keeps them from dedicating more of their time to building the firms of their future. Here’s what we discovered:
12 Quick Wins to Reverse the Trend
No matter the excuse, there are ways to reverse the trend of spending too much time in the red and blue zones.
Scott has developed an entire 3-part series designed to help our clients find their capacity and we would love to share with you one element which is Scott’s “12 Quick Wins Checklist”.
The checklist provides a “grab bag” of ideas that if followed, have been proven to free up considerable time and capacity. We recommend allocating one month to implement each suggestion.
12 quick wins checklist.
Download the checklist to find your capacity.
Building a recipe for success
Slipstream Group’s client, Damien Balgera owner of Balgera Group has been able to clinch his firm’s time and capacity management. This, in-turn has enabled them to execute their projects which has had a significant positive impact on the firm’s revenue and EBIT.
Damien has put his success down to a few key factors;
- Hiring the right person into the team at the right time and putting the time and energy into training them well. “We hired on personality and team fit vs industry experience, and thankfully it has all come together really well”.
- Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities. As the working principal, Damien is predominantly customer facing (working in blue) and strategically working “on” the business (black/gold). The team understand this, and they work to keep red tasks off his desk as much as possible.
- Communication and planning. “Communication across the team is key, we meet regularly so the team understands what we have on. We also allocate time to planning out our client meetings which we plan for the year ahead, so we always know what we’ve got coming up quarter to quarter.”
- Project execution. “We only execute one project at a time which may be a little different to other Slipstream clients work on up to three at a time. We complete one project at a time and move on to the next once its completed”.
We’d like to leave you with a reminder that time is a zero-sum game, a ‘yes’ to your inbox (or insert any other admin task here) is a ‘no’ to a higher-value project. If you’re ready to stop wasting time and start achieving sustainable growth, download the full copy of our “12 Quick Wins Checklist” today to get started. If you’d like to learn more about the power of business coaching, reach out to our team to learn more.