I have a tool that I use weekly which has become the best productivity builder in not just my business, but my entire life.

The tool is based on helping me capitalize on my most valuable resource, which is time.

Most people, me included, wish they had more time, and as the years go by and we get older, we realize that time goes by very quickly, and we wish we had more of it.

I review this tool on a weekly basis, usually on Sunday’s, which is generally my day of the week that I use to rest, reflect, re-organize and re-prioritize. It is a simple tool that can be used in any document processor.

This tool has 4-components.

Component #1:  Friction

I define friction in my life as anything that causes friction from my moving forward.  You need to define what moving forward is for you, but for me, I tie it to my goals that I lay out for myself, both professionally and personally.

There are a lot of things that cause friction I can’t get out of doing, like brushing my teeth, or showering.   Exclude those kinds of friction from consideration.

The friction I am talking about is that which you might be able to outsource to someone else.

I have several sub-lists within my friction component:  personal and professional.

Personal friction for me has increasingly become necessary chores around my home and property where I live. For example, I actually like getting on my tractor and mowing my acreage, but its become a source of friction for other things that are more important.

My personal friction list is anything that can be outsourced for someone else to do.  That does not necessarily mean I can outsource it, because maybe I can’t afford to pay someone else to do it, but it goes on the list for me to eventually figure out how to get someone else to do it for me.

Professional friction for me is backend admin of my work.  Updating records and accounting, for example. I actually despise doing this stuff anyway, so it is an easy decision to outsource.

But some backend admin work I use to not be able to outsource because of system limitations. It use to be that processing transactions into my accounting spreadsheet could only be accomplished by me, but I changed that to an online system that automates a lot of that and allows for someone else to do.

Friction can also be anything I struggle with, which ends up taking me more time to do.

I am not very good with brand and product names, color pallets, or design.  I struggle with this and end up spending time on these functions that is not efficient.  So, I outsource these kinds of things to others.

I prioritize my friction lists, so those that are further up are candidates for outsourcing more than ones further down. Those that are really causing a lot of friction go up to the top.

Component #2: Prune

There’s lots of stuff you cannot outsource, and maybe it becomes a candidate for pruning.

For me, I have dramatically pruned my personal and professional social interactions.

I don’t socialize as much with friends like I use to. In fact, certain people have just been pruned off my list.  Not that I do not like them, but I just need to be allocating time for those who are more important in my life.

I also have dramatically cut down on my in-person networking that I use to do through one-on-one meetings, events and tradeshows.  Especially when so much of this can now be done online, these activities where not giving me enough bang for my buck, so I cut them out.

Like friction, I prioritize my prune list so I focus on making the changes for the ones that are higher up the list versus ones lower on the list.

Component #3:  Leverage

I define leverage as anything where I can push and get more results compared to others, which really means to play to my strengths and not my weaknesses

Leverage is also defined as the compound effect of what I am doing.

I try to do things that will give me more leverage.

For example, I love figuring out ways to solve problems that can also end up being a product I can sell.

My wife and I put the time and effort into researching and making raw dog food for our dogs, using the right ingredients and the right proportions, because we were disgusted with all the commercial options available.

Because of the lack of commercial products available, we also figured this could be leveraged to a product.

But we did more than that and leveraged it into multiple products.

Now that is what I call leverage.  We fixed our own personal problem that ended up becoming a line of products.

Component #4:  Margin

This last one is more of an indirect productivity tool, because I find if I neglect this, then I may not lose productivity in the short-term, but over time, it will impact my life negatively.

I try to build in margin to help absorb the inevitable twists and curves along the path of life. There are 4-areas of margin:

  1. Physical margin. I am careful to not stack on too much work, exercise or travel into my schedule where it impacts my health or prevents me from recovering.
  2. Spiritual margin.  I guard my prayer time and make sure I do not stack my schedule where it takes time away from that on a daily basis.
  3. Financial margin.  I try to build in savings for the proverbial rainy days, and I admit I have not always been good at doing this in my life.
  4. Emotional margin. I define this one as having quality and deep relationships in my life.

Each week I do a quick check of these 4-areas of margin and adjust my schedule accordingly if margin is starting to slip.