Category Archives: Brian Moran

Work With Intention: The Three Components of Performance Time

By Brian MoranBrian Moran

Everything you want to accomplish in life requires an investment of your time, so when you want to improve your results, you must consider the fact that your supply of time is limited.

Even in this era of innovation and technological advancement, time, more than any other resource, is the limiting factor. Let’s face it, everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. Even more vexing is the fact that the supply of time is completely inelastic. No matter the magnitude of demand, the supply is fixed. Moreover, it’s perishable. And yet, time is perhaps the most squandered of all personal resources.

To become great, you must choose to allocate your time to your greatest opportunities. You will have to choose to spend time on the difficult things that create your biggest payoffs. To be great you will need to live with intention. This will require you to be clear on what matters most, and then to have the courage to say no to things that distract you. You will need to guard your time intensely, delegating or eliminating everything possible that is not one of your strengths or does not help you advance your goals.

To be your best, you must intentionally align your time and activities with your strengths and your unique capabilities. When you do, you will also experience a new and ever-increasing level of performance and satisfaction. To achieve this level of performance will require that you carve out time for the strategic—those actions that are important, but not necessarily urgent. Strategic activities don’t typically have an immediate payback, yet they create substantial returns in the future. To stay focused on your strengths, you will need to manage your interruptions and keep the low-payoff activities to a minimum.

In spite of the priceless value of time, many people engage each day on its own terms. In other words, they satisfy the various demands of the day as they are presented; spending whatever time is needed to respond without giving much thought as to the relative value of the activity. This is a reactive approach in which the day is controlling you thus preventing you from performing at your best.

The key to successful time use— intentional time use—is not trying to eliminate these unplanned interruptions, but instead to block out regular time each week dedicated to the strategically important tasks. We call this Performance Time and find that it is the best approach to effectively allocating time that we have ever encountered. Performance Time is an easy-to-use system that allows you to operate like the CEO of your business and life by spending your most valuable asset—your time—with intention. It utilizes a simple time-blocking system to regain control of your day and maximize your effectiveness.

There are three primary components of Performance Time: strategic blocks, buffer blocks, and breakout blocks.

Strategic Block: A Strategic Block is a 3-hour block of uninterrupted time that is scheduled in advance. During these blocks you accept no phone calls, no faxes, no e-mails, no visitors – no mental interruptions. You focus all your energies on the preplanned items – the strategic and money-making activities. Doing so concentrates your intellect and creativity and produces breakthrough results. You will be astounded by the quantity and quality of the work you produce. For most people, one strategic block per week is sufficient.

Buffer Block: Buffer Blocks are created to deal with all of the unplanned and low-value activities—like most email and voicemail—that arise throughout a typical day. Almost nothing is more unproductive and frustrating than dealing with constant interruptions, yet we’ve all had days when unplanned items dominated our time.

A Buffer Block allows you to take what would otherwise be inefficient activity and make it more productive by grouping it together. In this way you can handle each item expeditiously and move through the list with some momentum. This allows you to stay focused throughout the day on the important activities.

For some, one 30-minute buffer block a day is sufficient, while for others, two separate one-hour blocks may be necessary. The power of buffer blocks comes from grouping together activities that tend to be unproductive so that you can increase your efficiency in dealing with them and take greater control over the rest of your day.

Break-out Block: One of the key factors contributing to performance plateaus is the absence of free time. So often, entrepreneurs and professionals get caught up in working longer and harder. This approach is an energy and enthusiasm killer. To achieve greater results what’s necessary is not more hours. On the contrary, often it is more free time.

A Break-out Block is a minimum 3 hour block of scheduled time that is devoid of any work related activities and thoughts. It is time set aside to rejuvenate and replenish. Use this time for fun. Enjoy the hobbies in your life. Spend time with family and friends. Play golf. Go shopping. Get some exercise. Go fishing, or sailing…whatever you like to do that is non-work related. You need this time to rebuild your reserves and to open yourself up to fresh ideas and perspectives.

Benjamin Franklin said, “If we take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.”

Everything that we achieve in life happens in the context of time. The reality is that if you are not purposeful about how you spend your time, then you leave your results to chance. While it’s true that we control our actions and not our outcomes, our results are created by our actions. It stands to reason that the actions that we choose to take throughout our day, ultimately determine our destiny.

To realize your potential, you must learn to be more mindful about how you spend your time. Living with clear intention goes against the powerful natural tendency to be reactive because it requires you to organize your life around your priorities and consciously choose those activities that align with your goals and vision. When you use your time intentionally, you waste less of it and spend more of it on your high-value actions. Intentionality is your secret weapon in your war on mediocrity.

The key to successful time use is not necessarily in eliminating unplanned interruptions but in regularly blocking out time for the important activities. Just gaining control over a few hours each week often has a dramatic effect. Learn to use your time with greater intention and you will not only be more effective, but you will also feel a greater sense of control, less stress, and increased confidence. Try Time Blocking, it works!

Brian Moran, President and Founder of Strategic Breakthroughs, has amassed over thirty years of expertise as an executive, coach and consultant. Brian realized that most people don’t lack ideas but struggle with their effective implementation. His new book, “The 12 Week Year” is a powerful guide to creating results through Focus, Commitment and Accountability! Brian is a recognized expert and speaker in the field of leadership and execution. To learn more about Brian Moran, please visit BrianPMoran.com.

Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Most do in 12 Months

By Brian MoranBrian Moran

In an effort to improve, most companies and individuals will search for new ideas and strategies. They will seek out new marketing techniques, sales ideas, cost-cutting measures and customer service enhancements, hoping that these new approaches will deliver better results.

The number one factor holding individuals and entire companies back from achieving what they are truly capable of is not a lack of knowledge, intellect or information. It’s not some new strategy or idea. It’s not additional training. It’s not a larger network of “connected” people. It’s not hard work, natural talent or luck. Of course all these things help, they all play a factor, but they are not the things that make the difference.

You’ve no doubt heard the saying that knowledge is power. Knowledge is only powerful if you use it, if you act on it. It benefits no one unless the person acquiring the knowledge does something with it. And great ideas; well, great ideas are worthless unless they are implemented. The marketplace only rewards those ideas that get implemented. You can be smart, you can have access to lots of information and great ideas, you can be well-connected, work hard and have lots of natural talent, but in the end, you have to execute.

Execution is the single greatest market-differentiator. Great companies and successful individuals execute better than their competition.

The barrier standing between you and the life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution. Effective execution will set you free. It is THE path to accomplish the things you desire.

The 12 Week YearTM: One of the things that get in the way of individuals and organization effectively executing and achieving their best is the annual planning process. As strange as this is going to sound, annual goals and plans are often a barrier to high performance. This doesn’t mean annual goals and plans don’t have a positive impact, they do. There is no question you will do better with annual goals and plans, than without any goals or plans. However, this annual process inherently limits performance.

The trap is referred to as “annualized thinking.” At the heart of annualized thinking is an unspoken belief that there is plenty of time in the year to make things happen. In January, December looks a long way off. We mistakenly believe that there is plenty of time in the year, and we act accordingly. We lack a sense of urgency, not realizing that every week is important, every day is important, every moment is important. Ultimately, effective execution happens daily and weekly!

Forget about a year, let’s redefine a year: A year is no longer 12 months, it is now only 12 weeks. That’s right, a year is now a 12 week period. There are no longer four periods in a year; that’s old thinking. Now, there is just a 12 Week Year, followed by the next 12 Week Year, ad infinitum. Each 12 week period stands on its own – it is your year.

The 12 Week YearTM creates a new end game date – the point at which you assess your success (or lack thereof). It narrows your focus to the week and more to the point, the day, which is where execution occurs. The 12 Week Year brings that reality front and center. When you set your goals in the context of a 12 week year you no longer have the luxury of putting off the critical activities, thinking to yourself that there is “plenty of time” left in the year. Once 12 weeks becomes your year then each week matters, each day matters, each moment matters.

The result is profound. Most people experience about a 30% in their first 12 weeks when operating on the 12 Week YearTM platform. Here are three steps to help you achieve more in the next 12 weeks than most will in 12 months:

1) Set a 12 Week Goal: Start by establishing a 12 week goal. Annual goals are helpful but they lack immediacy and urgency. 12 week goals create focus and urgency. Get focused on what you want to make happen over the next 12 weeks. The goal should be an outcome – income, sales production, dollars saved, pounds lost, and represent significant progress towards your longer-term vision. Limit your goals to a maximum of three, and make certain each goal is specific and measurable.

2) Build a 12 Week Plan: 12 Week Planning is so much more effective than traditional planning because it is more predictable and focused. The key here is less is more. A 12 week plan embraces the notion of “let’s be great at a few things versus mediocre at many. ”For each goal, you will need to identify tactics. Tactics are the daily and weekly actions that drive the accomplishment of the goal. If the goal is the “where,” then the tactics are the “how.” Here again less is more. Keep it focused on the critical few. Identify the four or five actions that you need to take daily and weekly to accomplish your goal, those are your tactics.

3) Apply the Weekly Routine: Having a goal and a plan is helpful, but it’s not enough. The key to your success is executing your plan. To ensure you execute at a high level, adopt the Weekly Routine. If you do the following three things on a weekly basis you can’t help but get better!

  • Plan Your Week: Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your week. Use your 12 Week Plan to ID the tactics that are due this particular week. The Weekly Plan is not a glorified to-do list; rather, it reflects the critical strategic activity that needs to take place this week in order to achieve your 12 Week Goals.
  • Score Your Week: At the end of each week you will want to score your execution. In the end you have greater control over your actions than you do your outcomes. The most effective lead indicator you have is a measure of your execution. You are scoring your execution, not your results. Calculate a weekly execution score by dividing the number of tactics completed by the number due.
  • Meet With a Peer Group: Did you know that you are 7 times more likely to be successful if you meet regularly with a group of your peers? Find two to three other people who are committed and willing to meet for 15-20 minutes each week. In your meeting, report on how you’re doing against your goals and how well you’re executing. Encourage and challenge one another.

That’s it: Three simple steps! Plan your week, score your week, meet with a group of peers; how easy is that? Do them, and you will improve – guaranteed. Here’s the catch; the steps are easy to do, and even easier not to do. So make a commitment to engage with them for the next 12 weeks, and watch what happens.

Brian Moran, President and Founder of Strategic Breakthroughs, has amassed over thirty years of expertise an executive, coach and consultant. Brian realized that most people don’t lack ideas but struggle with their effective implementation. His new book, “The 12 Week Year” is a powerful guide to creating results through Focus, Commitment and Accountability! Brian is a recognized expert and speaker in the field of leadership and execution. To learn more about Brian Moran, please visit www.BrianPMoran.com.