Spare Time Doesn't Make Itself - FP Advance

Spare Time Doesn’t Make Itself

BY brett

Spare time doesn’t make itself.

For you to create some breathing space, some thinking space, some planning space, you’ve got to change the way you operate.

This is a lesson all experienced business owners have learnt or will be forced to learn at some point on their journey. The sooner you embrace the lesson, the better things will go for you.

What most firms are doing

In the vast majority of businesses they work on multiple “important projects”.

Yet, if something is truly important, what I’ve learned is it should be your only focus.

“But how can I do that Brett when there’s so much I can see that needs to be done?”

💡 Try this exercise

Here’s an exercise that goes to my point. You can do it if you like, it will literally take 2 minutes.

Step 1:
Use the stopwatch function on your phone and time yourself doing this exercise:

Write the sentence, “I am a great multitasker” across a piece of paper with a pen or pencil.

Then write the numbers, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 on a line below it.

How long did that take to do?

Step 2:
Now we do it differently. We want to end up with the same sentence and set of numbers as before BUT THIS TIME you write one letter on the top line (e.g. ‘I’) then you write one number on the second line (e.g. ‘1’).

Alternate back and forth between the next letter and the next number.

So it will look like this as it develops:



I a

1 2

And so on – you get the gist.

Have a go now and time how long it takes.

Even if you didn’t try it out, your logic will tell you that the second way took a lot longer than the first.

My point

Humans DO NOT multitask. Like computers downloading multiple files, they simply flick back and forth between each task and it takes much longer than focusing on one thing at a time. And as humans, we have a lot more to distract us than computers.

Small owner-operated businesses can’t multi-project very well either. Organisationally, we are switching back and forth between projects and it creates confusion and lack of focus for your team.

The job of the leader is to help people prioritise and focus.

  • What is the key project that is going to move the needle this year or this quarter?
  • What will you deliberately choose NOT to do so you can achieve that project?

Remember you’re already busy doing “business-as-usual” so it’s not as if you’re slacking off by having a singular focus.

This is how you get more done than your lazy competitors.

Ouch, ‘lazy’ feels really aggressive in that previous sentence but it’s not meant to be. I’m just trying to make the point that the lazy (and less effective) option is to avoid prioritising and choosing the most important project to move forward. It’s easier to ‘do’ than to ‘think’.

Any damn fool can try to do it all.

It doesn’t work.

What are the best firms doing?

High-performing businesses take a little longer to choose what they will work on. It hurts a little bit more and adds a little extra time to the decision-making process. Most importantly, it feels very uncomfortable.

However, by taking that pause and getting clear on what will move the needle most, the ensuing quarter is calmer.

  • There is time for everyone on the team to do their “business-as-usual” work.
  • There is time when your team can get access to you to move decisions forward.
  • Lots of other stuff is kicked down the road.
  • You get the main project done in double quick time and it’s done well.
  • Then it yields a benefit.

Now you’ve created some breathing space. Just a smidge.

Over multiple quarters, these small wins add up. And next thing you know, a few years later, everyone’s calling you an overnight success.

When does the penny drop?

To be honest, the penny never does drop for some. They grind themselves and their teams down slowly but surely by trying to do too much. They’re well-meaning but misguided in their efforts. They work hard, not smart.

For those that do eventually grasp this important issue, it happens when they get to breaking point and think “I can’t go on like this.”

Wouldn’t it be better if you could spot the futility of “do-it-all” efforts earlier and address the root causes BEFORE you have a meltdown?

How I can help

The Uncover Your Business Potential (UYBP) programme takes you and your business through some really important simplification issues right up front.

I can very quickly clear your head, clarify your thinking, and get you working on the right projects that will move the needle and give you some breathing space. After the first 12 months, you won’t know yourself.

Why do people fight me on this one?

A very good friend of my wife and I works for himself in another industry (not financial planning). He’s got no support staff and does everything himself. It’s painful to watch.

However, whenever we make a suggestion on how he could simplify things he replies with words to the effect of “there’s nothing else I could be doing”, which shuts down all options.

He’s proving himself right, when in fact my wife and I can see (as dispassionate externals to his situation), that if he made a few changes, he could remove a lot of his problems.

Spare time doesn’t make itself.

3 years is the fastest way to do it right

Uncover Your Business Potential

A crystal clear coaching programme for adviser-owners who want to create a world-class financial planning business.

If you think it’s time to take that next bold step, then let’s set up a call.

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ABOUT BRETT DAVIDSON When you work with FP Advance you work with me, Brett Davidson, directly. My motto is ‘advise better, live better’ and I practice what I preach. I’m straight talking and get to the heart of an issue quickly. There’s no beating about the bush, just a focus on helping things improve. Ask my clients – what I teach works.