In our work we function in different areas that can be defined by four different “zones” of aptitude:
Zone of Incompetence: In this zone you are not good at something—for example, managing workflow—and the work is best done by someone else.
Zone of Competence: Here, you are efficient at the work, but others can do it better.
Zone of Excellence: You have cultivated and practiced over time and are highly skilled in this area. Not many people can do it better.
Zone of Genius: At this level, you are exceptional, the work comes naturally to you and your thought leadership shines through.
The Goal: Staying in Your Zone of Genius. Time is life’s currency. Its finite, non-replenishable. Use it wisely. Staying in your Zone of Genius takes practice. Carve out 10% of your time for your Zone of Genius and, with practice, eventually increase it to 60%. Here are ways to free up time:
Create templated email replies
Have three email addresses: Personal, Private Work and Public Work
Create a set of email rules for an assistant/virtual assistant to use
Use a calendar app to allow clients to book meetings
Voicemail: Get a google phone number so that you can forward voicemail to text or enable an assistant to answer your voicemail and take notes.
Meetings: Meetings can kill productivity. It takes approximately 3.5 hrs. for a 60-minute meeting. Meetings involve:
Emails or calendar invites
Location or virtual booking
Agendas/distribution of agendas
Review, prep, confirmation
15 mins of non-productive time
45 mins of productive time
Downloading recording, uploading to drive, adding notes to CRM, etc.
Sending recap emails
Adding tasks to to-do list/project management
An Administrative Assistant helps. They can do all of these things for you.
Time blocking is the art of creating a schedule that truly works for you. Pillars of Time Blocking:
Identify the most and least productive times of your day—your work circadian rhythm.
Focus on a single task during your most productive times.
Try the Pomodoro technique: 25 min focus, 5 min break, 25 focus, and so on, with 25 min break on the 4th round
Deep focus tasks or “Maker Time” (Michael Hyatt) can be a longer block
Guard against distraction
Use indicators such as a Do Not Disturb sign, a Focus on Time Sign self-reminder, close your door, or other indicators that help keep you from being interrupted or distracted
Block out your productive time on your calendar. Don’t schedule meetings during productive times.
Start with high-level priorities
Add blocks of “reactive” tasks: email, chat apps, client requests
Create morning and wind down routines
Add buffers and breaks throughout the day
Add in “overflow” days where you can get caught up
Do a just did list—this reminds you that you were productive
Create an ideal schedule for yourself:
What does your day look like now
When are your productive vs slow times
Combine your daily routine with productive and slow times
Take a half-hour break between meetings
Have times when you are not available to clients such as evenings or weekends
Make time for self-care—when you feel good it is easier to stay in your Zone of Genius
Delineate the time of day you will spend in your Zone of Genius
Share your schedule with your assistant
Create a Month at a Glance that has upcoming action items. For example:
January: collect and send 1099’s
Feb Gather personal tax info
Eliminate social media distractions:
Facebook newsfeed eradicator chrome extension
Set social media hours
Turn off notifications—email, push, text, chat
Your assistant answers comments, messages, and engages in other ways
Prepare to offload time sucks and drudgery:
List the top 5 tasks to delegate
Who can manage these tasks? Local or remote?
Write a job description
Recruit from: your network, your team’s network, agencies
Create onboarding plan
Create communication plan
With diligence and practice you will find the time to be in your Zone of Genius!
Gwen Beren founded Illuminous Marketing in 2012 to assist small business owners in accomplishing their online marketing goals through SEO, social media marketing, and digital marketing strategies.