In the first part of this three part series we established that our time and attention is really our biggest competitive advantage. And that we need to treat these resources, time and attention, like they are finite…because they are. If you missed the first key to reclaiming your competitive advantage you can find it HERE.
Now we know we have this competitive advantage that are uniquely ours and we know it is limited. But what are our time and attention worth? The second key to reclaiming the throne of our competitive advantage is optimizing our value, maximizing our impact. Here are three concepts to light the way.
Key #2 – Optimize Your Value
Since we are talking about value we’ll borrow three terms from economics class:
- Highest and best use – The ‘highest and best use’ of your limited time and attention is what brings the most value to you, your company, and your clients. Notice I didn’t say the highest and best use of your time is doing what you are great at. Instead it is measured by the value of the outcome. For example, I have an hour left before a meeting to get something done. I’m great at processing incoming emails. But I’ll definitely create more benefit, more value, by completing the preparations for my client’s offsite strategy meeting. Focusing on the client deliverable is the highest and best use of my time and attention. But we like doing what is easy and end up doing it by default. It takes hard work to leave that for later and do the higher value task. Keeping this in mind as you make your commitments will allow you to make the best use of your competitive advantage. What projects spring to your mind that represent the highest and best use of your time and attention? What one thing would make the largest impact and create the most value for you, your team, and your company? That is the highest and best use of your attention. Go do it (without checking your email first).
- Opportunity cost – For everything you decide to do next, there is something you decide (consciously or unconsciously) not to do next. The value that would have stemmed from what you decided not to do is the ‘opportunity cost’ of your decision. Stated another way, opportunity cost is the potential payoff from the option you didn’t choose. Back to the previous example – say I decide to spend most of the available hour responding to emails and cram the rest of the strategy session prep into the remaining few minutes. The loss of quality and value of the strategy session is the opportunity cost of deciding to do emails instead. Maybe the value or opportunity cost of this decision would be not being hired back to facilitate their next strategy session. Or maybe missing out on a great referral. Alternatively the opportunity cost of using the hour to prepare better is really low – a few emails don’t get answered until the next morning. If we use opportunity cost thinking to allocate our time we can maximize the value we create. And it is definitely better than just using our time to respond to whatever feels urgent.
- Leverage – Even after identifying the ‘highest and best use’ and ‘opportunity cost’ of our attention, there are still things that have to get done. These are things that are worth getting done, just not by you. Enter leverage. If something has too high an opportunity cost, and/or isn’t the best use of your finite time – it is time for help. Leverage can take many forms. Delegate to a virtual assistant or administrative assistant. Invest in tech that legitimately saves you time. The dollar cost of this leverage is tiny compared to the value you will create with your freed up time. You can’t make more time but you can make more money. The time saved from doing the mundane buys you the bandwidth to focus on that new client or project, refine your strategy, and find even more things that are ripe for delegating!
Your biggest competitive advantage is your time and attention. It is finite and valuable. Make the most of it by –
– employing the principle of highest and best use to guide your focus
– using the concept opportunity cost to choose what to tackle next
– and dealing with everything that’s left with leverage
Capture the value of your competitive advantage. Reclaim the throne of your time and attention. It is yours after all.
Next time we will wrap up this series with Key #3 – vanquish the enemies of the throne.
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By Jonathan Walters with Crux Consulting, Inc. – Crux Consulting Inc. specializes in providing practical growth and success tools for general contractors and subcontractor trades in the construction industry. Want to know more? Contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.cruxconsultinginc.com.