I just returned from a large business conference my company, Maui Mastermind, hosted in Florida. One of the most important themes we that came up in several of the question and answer periods was how could an entrepreneur, or any business executive for that matter, break the connection between hours worked and value created.

As business owners, we all know that we don't get paid for time, but rather, for value created. Yet if this is so, then why is it so many business leaders still waste so much of their day doing things that take up a lot of time, but add very little value?

Here are 7 time shifts that I shared with the business leaders in Florida that I think you'll find incredibly valuable as you struggle with the same challenge.

1. Clarify what you do that truly creates value. What specific tasks and activities that you do actually make the biggest impact on your company? There are likely 3-5 things that you do for your company that generate the most economic value. Things that increase revenue, strategically improve your team, give you a more stable or durable business, or that seize a big opportunity.

Keep this written list of your top value producing activities in front of you each week as you plan out your week. Make sure that you invest as much of your time as you can to these items.

You know you've picked the right items when you can invest 1 hour in doing one of them and generate hundreds of units of value or more out of them.

Common examples of these high value activities include:

  • Visiting and spending time with your top clients.
  • Selection of your newest leadership team hirer.
  • Being on a speaker panel at an industry conference.
  • Strategic planning time.
  • Meeting with a prospective new joint venture partner.

2. Schedule in a recurring weekly appointment for one 3 hour block each week of "focus" time. I recommend you do this early in the day so you don't get pulled off track by some errant email that ticks you off. Pick one day each week that you'll block out a full 3 hours for you to use on your highest value creating activities.

3. Score yourself daily (1-5) on how well you did investing your best time on your highest value activities. I keep a daily log that I fill out every weekday morning in my business journal, which takes me 2 minutes to do each day.

4. Enlist your team in guarding your "focus" time. Explain to them why this matters to the company. Let them know that you'll be accessible to them throughout the week but that during this one block of time ask for their help in giving you the buffer you need to focus on creating real value for your organization.

5. Teach this same worldview to your leadership team and encourage them to both clarify in writing their top value creating activities and to also block out three hours a week as focus time.

6. Regularly review and audit your own behaviors to see that you're actually investing your best time in your highest value producing activities. I know that I do this on a weekly basis on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning early.

7. Work with a business coach who can give you outside accountability in a structured, consistent way. Our clients do a 5-10 minute weekly check-in via a web based app and then a formal quarterly review. Many business leaders find that outside, 3rd party accountability on their use of time is a powerful rudder board to hold them on target.

The two bottom lines to all seven of these time hacks are first, we have to get out of the all too common rut of just putting our head down and working hard. Hard work is not the answer to how we'll sustainably grow our business. Second, to create real value for our company means we have got to do those specific activities that create the most value. When we identify these concrete activities and schedule in regular, weekly focus blocks of time to work on these high value activities, we have the ability to greatly enhance our companies. I've just suggested to you that each week you need to block out at least one three-hour focus block as a starting point. If you were to look at my weekly schedule you'd see 15 hours a week blocked off for me to do my highest value activities for my company. It's made such a dramatic difference for me and for our business coaching clients I strongly encourage you to do the same thing.

If you enjoyed these ideas on being better at self-management, I encourage you to get a complimentary copy of my latest bestseller, Build a Business Not a Job. Click here to get your free copy.