Genius Time? It Matters

I frequently give presentations at small business gatherings, providing me the opportunity to have engaging conversations with owners about the challenges they face. Based on their input, the economy continues to plug along, heading in the right direction, and distancing itself from the difficult journey of the past few years. However, the resulting business climate is considerably different than before, with greater competition and higher customer expectations. Success as a small business owner requires maximizing your daily productivity, so you can focus more on the big picture and less on the many things that eat away at your day.

"Genius Time" is what you do that brings the most value to your small business. It is those high-impact activities ? and just the three or four most important things ? that lead to your peak performance. For example, Genius Time could be networking, client relations, employee motivation and/or providing continuing education. There are many other things that could make up your Genius Time, but know this?dedicating yourself to Genius Time will lead your entire organization to better results.

Success Handler Action: After you finish reading this e-newsletter, spend 30 minutes thinking about your Genius Time. Here are some questions to help you get started:

~ What do you spend most of your work time doing?

~ What things can you and you alone handle?

~ What are the most important roles you perform in your small business?

~ Which areas of your company are not getting the attention they need?

~ How often do you plan what you want to get done each day? Week? Month?

~ Why do you think things get in the way of executing your priorities?

Many of the small business leaders we work with struggle with their own Genius Time. They live in a world of crisis management ? trapped by a never-ending stream of tasks that keeps them in a state of "stuck" ? seldom able to grow beyond their current level. There are many reasons this happens, from lack of awareness about how they actually spend their day, to the never-ending challenges of interruption after interruption. Instead of developing systems and training their employees, which are the keys to creating more time to think proactively, they spend their days reacting to situations and putting out fires.

Success Handler Action: Having determined your Genius Time, keep track during the next week of how you actually spend your working days. Note things like how often you check e-mail, handle incoming telephone calls or work on personal matters. List all of the interruptions that distract you...from employees, to customers, to your cell phone ringing. Be sure to note all of the successful moments you spend on Genius Time.

At the end of the week, follow these five steps to identify where you're placing your priorities:

1. Take out a yellow highlighter and mark all of your Genius Time work

2. Put a red circle around those "time wasters" that cut into your productivity

3. Review all of the other ways you spent time during the week

4. Add up the hours you spent performing Genius Time, "time wasters" and "other" activities

5. Determine what percentage of your working hours you actually spent on Genius Time

One of the interesting people I met recently is a retired Army veteran and new small business owner. On 9/11, he told me he was sitting 100 feet from where the plane hit the Pentagon. He and another member of the military crawled to safety through smoke so thick they weren't sure which direction they were heading.

He said the reason he chose to start his own business is because working the system is the closest thing he could find to the life he lived and loved the past 20 years. "In the military, we spent our days taking the plan and working it, with the goal of maximum productivity and results," he said. "Tell me what the most valuable use of my time is and I'll prioritize that every day." This American Hero pursuing the American Dream truly understands the importance of Genius Time.

Copyright 2004 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (, and specializes in helping small business leaders find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there ? as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

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