The Difference Between Being Productive Vs. Being Effective – Part 1

October 11, 2015

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When I meet salon owners and they find out I own and operate three salons, their reaction is almost always the same.   Eyes get big, mouth opens wide and then what normally follows is the question, “Do you sleep?”   I smile and politely reply with a simple, “Yes”.     Then they ask me, “How?  How do you do it?”.


Here’s the honest truth.  I try to get eight hours of sleep at night.  I don’t always get it, but I normally get at least seven.   I usually enjoy a twenty minute power nap every day and I like reading for at least thirty minutes daily.  I like to meditate and workout at least five days a week.  All of this, in addition to overseeing a multimillion dollar salon operation.   I don’t mean to sound conceited as I share this.   I’m sharing this to give you hope.   Hope for a better way to spend your time and energy.   Hope for helping you spend more time on the things you love doing.  Hope for getting the things done that really matter.   I’m here to tell you that with a little practice, you can do it.
leadership, effective leadership, happiness, managing, time management, getting things done, productivity

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This is the first blog in a series of three where I’ll share how I’ve managed to design my days (and my life) in a way that allows me to spend time doing the things that I’m really good at and the things that I actually enjoy.   These days, my main objective is to only allow myself to do the things that are going to have the biggest impact in helping me achieve my personal and professional goals.


So let’s get started.   First, it’s important for me to say that I didn’t get here overnight.  It wasn’t easy.  And for the record, I’m always looking for ways to get to an better space!  Life is a work in progress.    I got here after making a ton of mistakes, wasting a lot of time, and after working myself to exhaustion.   You might feel like you’re there right now.   Quite honestly, when I think back to those crazy stressful days, I was the most stressed when our business was smaller; fewer employees, and fewer locations.   The irony right?  I felt like I was the one guy doing everything.   Actually, I WAS the one guy doing everything.


That’s actually a perfect jumping off point.   Do you feel like you’re doing everything?   Do you feel like you’re the only one that “knows” how to do everything?   Let’s see.   Are you still the one that goes to Sam’s Club or Costco to pick up supplies?  Are you still paying the salon bills each month?  Who’s replacing the light bulbs in the salon or spa?    You are so busted.   Okay, I’ll admit it.  Every now and again, I’ll have a weak moment and climb on a ladder to change a light bulb.  However, these days, the few times I’m up on that ladder, I half-jokingly broadcast to those below me that for what the company’s paying me, it makes no sense for me to change the damn light bulb!  In fact, it’s a waste of resources!  That’s no joke.


After years of changing light bulbs, running errands, and working fourteen hour days, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired.   I knew there had to be a better way for me to be more effective in my work.  I knew that I could accomplish a lot more and actually enjoy being an entrepreneur if I just changed a few things.   Okay, let’s be honest, for me, I needed to change A LOT of things.


The first thing I did was stop and acknowledge my current reality.  Sometimes we get so focused on all the shit that needs to get done, we put our heads down and we power right through all the crap that’s piled up all around us.  We don’t even realize what we’re doing.  We just know we’re checking off our lists and getting shit done!  But just because you’re busy doing things, doesn’t make you an effective leader, team member, manager, etc..  The first thing that I had to acknowledge was that the more stuff I was getting done, the more stuff people started relying on me to do.   One of my sayings is, “If you won’t let anyone help you, guess what, people on your team will gladly let you do everything!”   And for those of us entrepreneurs, as much as we hate to admit it, we like to be in control of everything.  Right?  At some point, it gets overwhelming.


One day, I was reading a productivity blog or book and I found a list of questions that hit me square in the face.  These questions were designed to help readers see where they were spending most of their time and then determine what they really should be focused on.     When I read these questions, they immediately helped me break things down in a way that I could easily digest.  They helped me work my way out of that horrible place of having to do everything.


Here they are:
1)  What are you working on that you really don’t enjoy?
2)  What you are working on that you’re really not good at?
3)  What should you be working on that no one else can really do?
4)  What do you enjoy working on?
5)  What are you really good at doing?


I took a moment and thought about my own work flow.  I went through this exercise about five years ago. Here’s how I answered the questions:
1)  What are you working on that you really don’t enjoy?
I hate running errands, like Sam’s Club, Costco or Armstrong-McCall.  I don’t like routine stuff like paying bills, bookkeeping entries, etc..  Busy work like running reports to gather information.  I just like to see the info and make a decision.   Handyman stuff.  I can’t stand it when the salon needs spot painting, repairs or when the dryer starts making a funny noise and needs attention.  I don’t like to paint and I certainly don’t have the patience to fix stuff that breaks.    


2)  What you are working on that you’re really not good at?
Details.  Don’t ask me to do payroll.   I mean, I can do it but I usually make a lot of mistakes.   That’s not good, especially when it comes to people’s pay!   And don’t even think about getting me to work on a new schedule for team members.  I can do that too, but it takes me twice as long as someone else, and I normally end up with five team members working a 60 hour work week. Managing people.  I’m horrible at it and I really don’t enjoy it.  Don’t ask me to manage.  Leading,  that’s a different story.


3)  What should you be working on that no one else can really do?
Marketing initiatives,  defining and cultivating the company culture, long term growth strategies, client loyalty programs, services and product development, operational efficiencies, forecasting sales and expenses and fine-tuning the cashflow plan.  


4)  What do you enjoy working on?
Marketing, building audiences using social media, connecting with team members, recruiting A players, developing leaders, problem solving, brainstorming on innovative ways to serve our customers, coaching, developing multiple revenue streams. 
5)  What are you really good at doing?
Marketing, thinking differently, doing things more efficiently using technology, systemizing work flows, big picture, strategies, developing leaders, coaching.


Once I was able to organize these thoughts in my head on paper by asking myself these questions, I could actually step back and compare what I was actually doing to what I should have been doing. What I realized was that I was doing a bunch of busywork and not enough of the things I was really good at or the things that I enjoyed.   I realized that somewhere along the way, I got sucked into doing the stuff that no one else wanted to do or expected me to do because I was the owner.


When I was able to see the stuff that I was working on daily compared to the stuff that I should have working on, it was clear that I needed to make some changes.    I encourage you do take some time to answer the same five questions above.  Don’t rush the process.  Take 15 to 20 minutes and really think about what you do on a daily basis.   Are there things that you really like doing?   Are there things that you don’t like doing?   Are there things that you know you shouldn’t be doing, but don’t know how to get out of doing?  Just bringing awareness to all of this is a start.


In my next post, I’ll share with you how I took what I learned and started applying changes.  In order to design your ideal work day and be your best self, you need to be able to acknowledge your strengths and apply them in a way that has the greatest impact on your goals.


In the meantime, tell me where you’re stuck.   Are there parts of your day where you find yourself doing things that you don’t enjoy?  Do you feel like you are the only one that is able to do what you do?   Share your thoughts.  Let’s get a conversation started.

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy