Jim Collins is known for his business classics Good to Great, Built to Last and his latest title, Turning the Flywheel. His secret, though, may just be good old-fashioned time management.

In a recent Tim Ferriss interview, Collins broke down his system. Let's see if you have the discipline to follow it.

The formula 50/30/20

Years ago, Collins says he began keeping track of how he spent his time. How much time did he spend doing things that got him really excited? What about time feeling the most productive? He kept track of the hours day in, day out.

He discovered his best weeks, months and, eventually, years broke down into three segments:

  • 50 percent: New, intellectually creative work
  • 30 percent: Teaching or sharing knowledge
  • 20 percent: Necessary tasks

Here's what occurs

Half of your time is spent growing into your next role. Whitney Johnson calls this the bottom-to-center of the S-Curve, or the area where you are learning the most. You worry less about being innovative because seeing what's coming becomes your primary function.

A third of your time is sharing your mastery, which, as myself and other coaches know, teaches you as much as it does your intended. Any knowledge you gain becomes solidified or reevaluated into a better idea.

Lastly, a fifth of your time is making sure your business stays on track. How much of your week is spent handling basic business tasks? The pressure to use the equivalent of one day a week on important, yet non-growth oriented work forces you to create systems to run the business without you.

How to implement it

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam, whom interviewed me for her book Off The Clock, highly recommends tracking how you spend your time. Like dieters writing down their food intake, monitoring your time shows you how you have really structured your day.

We have a bad perception of how much time we spend doing something. Vanderkam found that the average person was off by a significant amount, like 20 percent or so. Think you work 50 hours a week? Probably closer to 40.

I've found getting the necessary tasks to 20 percent is the most important, and challenging aspect of Collins' theory. Frankly, it's hard because the needs of our business can change daily. Today, though, there are simple actions we can take to save time. For instance, the online calendar Calendly handles all my coaching and business meetings - so I'm not spending hours emailing equally busy people back and forth for suitable times.

Find ways you can offload the menial and you can focus more on the meaningful.

You may never fully achieve the 50/30/20 split, but having it as a North Star could radically change your productivity, fulfillment and impact.

Published on: May 29, 2019
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