By mick | October 1, 2021

EPISODE 65 | The Biggest Priority For Builders!

Hey folks and welcome to another episode of Builders Business Success Podcast!

In this episode, I wanna share with you a better understanding of priority. And the reason I want to is because there’s lots of ways to screw this up and it can lead to low productivity. It could lead to low effectiveness or ineffectiveness, and it also leads to high levels of stress, which is all unnecessary.

So this is a very, very cool topic. And I hope that through this episode, I’m gonna be able to give you a perception of it that’s quite simplified, easy to implement, I think, once you’ve wrapped your head around it. A little bit counter intuitive, but we’ll address all of those things.

We’ll also be doing Q and A as per usual. And we’re answering the question of, how do I get more work? So the question is being asked, how do I get more work? Because I need more money is the question. So we’ll be covering that one and also idea of the week.

As always just mentioning, if you haven’t participated, watched, listened to, an episode of the Builders Business Success podcast previously, the focus of it is to give you solutions to the common and often costly problems, challenges that are faced running a building business.

And the solutions that we offer you are tried and tested solutions. They’re not just theory. So we get together on a daily basis, pretty much with our Builders Business Blackbelt members, they’re all over the country. They’re in populated cities, they’re in regional areas. So we test all of this sort of stuff in various regions and locations to make sure that it’s not, it’s not really relevant to your geography.

A lot of the stuff, a lot of the problems that I get asked about talking to builders, they tend to be, you know, it’s because I’m here and you know, I, what you’ve suggested, I don’t think will work in this geography because of these reasons. And we’ve found that that’s just not true. That’s just a mindset shift. And the kind of stuff that we talk about that you can implement in your building business can make a massive difference, no matter where you are.

And I mean, no matter where you are geographically, and also no matter where you are with the issues or challenges in your business, you could be going really well and want to take it to a whole nother level, or you could be struggling in a certain area and it could be getting team members. It could be getting the work done. It could be getting the work. It could be getting the work you want.

It could be getting quality work, all of those sorts of things. It could be your own stress. It could be financial management, cash flow, all of those sorts of things. Nothing is off the table.

*Transcription of the show*
So why is understanding priority important? Well, there’s this philosophy that I think most people get sucked into of multitasking. It’s a great way to get lots of things done. And what we’ve found over the years is multitasking is the best way to waste your time and to be completely ineffective and create stress for yourself.

One of the best books that got me started with this whole focus on the one thing, and a priority instead of priorities is a book called The One Thing. And it asks a really, really cool question that you base your goal setting on your, even your daily priorities and even the complete focus of your business.

And that is what is the one thing that if I was to accomplish that one thing would make everything else far easier and make a bunch of things unnecessary. Now, I am not direct quoting from The One Thing that is paraphrasing, but that was the essence of the question you ask yourself.

What’s that one thing? And if we’re talking about today, what’s the one thing that if I did it today, would make everything else on my list today, easier, and maybe eliminate the need for a few things on my list. Talking business-wise, what’s the one thing that if I accomplish with my business will make everything else in my business easier and make a whole bunch of other things unnecessary.

So you can put it in a goal context or a day context, or a whole of business context, a whole of life context, if you want to. It’s a great, great question. Hugh is watching live, thanks for saying good day. And I just want you to get past this mindset of multitasking, because there are still so-called gurus out there promoting that, you know, multitasking and doing this while you’re doing that is a good way of doing things.

I think that all can be debunked, if you got into a book called Deep Work, if you really understood the psychology that works for people who can have pulled off extraordinary things, and you sit back and you wonder, you know, how did they do that? How do they get so much done?

How did they accomplish so much? There’s a bunch of principles that you need to understand and apply to be able to accomplish these massive outcomes. And one of them is focus and focusing on one thing and they talk about deep work being, it’s almost like a zone that you’ve got to get into flow that you’ve got into, and it takes a while to get into that flow and that focus.

And so whenever we’re multitasking and I always use the analogy of the magnifying glass, if you want to, you know, burn a hole in the piece of paper, if you want to start a fire, you need to get the beam of light, very, very narrow, but you need to hold it still. That’s the secret to it.

You can get a narrow beam and wave it all around the place. Nothing happens because it’s never in one place long enough to light the fire. And that’s a great analogy for your ability to concentrate without distraction and get into deep work. The value of getting into deep work is immense.

When you get into that mindset, that flow, that zone, that state, that they talk about in deep work, you get so much more done and you might be thinking, well, you know that’s not going to be relevant when I’m on site.

Maybe, maybe not. Like there are some things that you can grab from these ideas and implement into on-site stuff, but really where it comes into its own is when you’re talking about designing systems and processes and objectives for building your business, not doing your business.

There’s a big difference between doing business and building business. Doing business to me is everything that is required when you’re working in the business. So, you know, a lot of people, a lot of builders will say, you know, I need to get off the tools so I can spend more time in the office to work on the business. And even then if they accomplish that, they’re not necessarily working on the business, they’re still doing in the business stuff, they’re doing the marketing, they’re doing client consultation. They might be doing some sales, what have you. They’re doing quoting, doing administration. All of those things are in the business activity.

On the business activity is doing something that will improve the performance, the enjoyment, the productivity, the effectiveness, the results in your business, and giving you more time freedom, more financial freedom, and more enjoyment or meaning. Anything that’s pointing you towards those three things. More time, more money, more meaning, to me, working on the business stuff.

So if you just, you know, working in the business and doing the day-to-day stuff in an administrative role in the office, and you’re not on the tools, you’re still working in the business. And so another mindset that needs to shift to, for this thing to make sense is believing that there are multiple things that have equal value or are of equal importance.

If you can get past that mindset and understand that if you’ve got two things to do, and you’ve only got time to do one thing, which one are you going to choose? And you need to be able to choose based on which one is more important. Another mindset that needs to shift with this is understanding the difference between that word I just used then, important and urgent.

And I think we pretty much mostly get sucked into urgent. Urgent is an emotion. You feel it, you experience it, it’s brought on by this person ringing for the third time this morning, or yelling at you, or, you know, sorts brought on by recency the most recent request frequency.

This person’s asked me 10 times about it and volume. If someone’s screaming at me, it tends to create a sense of urgency. And we will tend to do the things that have this emotion of urgency attached to it. Whereas what we need to master is the understanding of importance. And if I’m going to invest my time, my effort into this activity, what is the return that I’m to get long term?

So one of the things I constantly saying to our Blackbelt members, and I just noticed another one, that’s just joined us, Matt without the hat, at the beginning or the end of Great Ocean Road depending on your perspective. And, that is, you need to, as I said, you need to understand the difference between urgency and importance, but you need to be able to look at the consequences of doing or not doing something.

So for instance, if you’ve got this urgency, because we think, you know, I’ve got to go and bang these nails into wood on site, because that’s the thing that allows me to put an invoice in and the till ticking over. If we get sucked into that being the most important, and we give over to that all of the time, we never seem to find the time to invest on any of the working on the business stuff.

And so much of the stuff that is important, doesn’t seem to have a great deal of urgency to it. And that is a skill that we need to master to be able to go, okay, if I don’t do this activity first, or if I don’t do it at all, what will be the consequences of it? If I do it, what will be the consequences or the benefit.

And more often than not, if you think about something that maybe you’re gonna put some time and effort, maybe you’re gonna put 30 minutes a time, a 30 minute time block into creating a much improved communication process, for instance, for between the office and the team.

And maybe you put a 30 minute time block once a week aside to just work on improved communication between the administration side of things and the site side of things, what’s going to be the longterm outcome or benefit of that? If we’re constantly improving communications between the admin and the site, is that going to improve things? Is it gonna eliminate mistakes?

Is it gonna create efficiencies and effectiveness? Obviously the answer is yes. But if that 30 minute time block doesn’t happen because we’re on site or doing work in the business and that 30 second, 30 minute time block never eventuates. Does that 30 minutes that you were banging nails into wood or doing some sort of administrative task, what value does that give you in the future?

And that’s the issue like we tend to make decisions as to what to do next, based on our gut feeling, which is generally a sense of urgency or a sense of comfort. If what you’ve got planned to do puts you out of your comfort zone and it’s quite challenging to do or something you don’t want to do, we all tend to gravitate to our comfort zone.

And if you’re totally comfortable on site or doing any of that sort of administrative stuff, because you’re confident with it, you know what you’re doing, you will tend to rationalize to yourself that I need to do that first. And that’s the point I’m going to get to as this whole first thing. And before we finish this, I want to help you to understand what priority really is.

And it’s all about what’s first. The word priority is the word that I want you, I encourage you to start to use in your voice inside your head. When you’re talking to yourself. What is my priority? Because it’s singular, what do I need to do next?

Priorities, according to The One Thing book, so using the multiple word, well, the plural word for priority, priorities didn’t really come into our language until the 80s. And that was sort of the decade of, you know, where all of this whole multitasking philosophy started to come to light.

And we started to use the word priorities and the trouble with having priorities is it puts us in a mindset that we have a lot to do. And it’s amazing. Sit back and listen to people, maybe sit back and listen to yourself where you start to tell yourself I’ve got so much to do, you know, and when you put yourself in that mindset, you’re not putting yourself in a state that is conducive to effectiveness.

If you’ve got, you know, I’ve got so much to do. If you’re in that sort of an energy you’re not focused, you won’t be anywhere near as effective and as efficient as you possibly could. Versus if you go, what is my priority? And you block out everything else, and you just go ahead and give all of your attention and all of your energy and all of your focus to your priority.

So that’s the thing on your list that is the most important thing. Based on consequences, not based on urgency, based on what benefit I will get by doing it, versus what pain will I avoid by doing it. And the one that gives you the most benefit and the least amount of pain and move you towards your objectives and your goals has to be the thing that’s most important on your list.

So that is your priority. Once that is done, and you’ve ticked it off, you can then ask yourself what is my priority? That is the next thing that needs to get done. And then you do that. When you get clarity on what your priority is, and then once you’ve done that, what your next priority is. And once you’ve done that, what your next priority is, it gives you clarity. Clarity gives you confidence. Confidence creates effectiveness. It causes you to make very effective decisions.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years, if you listen to interviews and speeches and what have you by very successful people, they all tend to say that successful people can make decisions very, very quickly and change them very rarely because they understand the consequences of the activities that they are going to choose to do or choose to ignore.

They’re looking into the future and they know what their priority is. So it makes it very easy and fast to make a decision. And that also gives you that confidence, which gives you more effectiveness, more productivity, more efficiency. So what, we’ve talked about the why, what do we need to do? So you need to know with clarity, what the real purpose of your business is.

Talk to most builders, and it’s like, you know, it’s to the feed the family, it’s to put the food on the table, you know, to give us a lifestyle, to give us income, all of that sort of stuff. I think there is something that is much, much deeper, and I would encourage you to ask that question, what really is the purpose of my business?

So even if, pardon me, even if you went to this sort of first level of believing what I always talk about, and that is that the product of your business is the quality of the client’s experience. Even if you bought into that and said, that was the purpose of my business, your business would change significantly because guess what you’re giving priority to?

And guess what you’re encouraging the team to give priority to? The subbies, the suppliers, everybody involved in the project, guess what you’re getting them focused on? It’s not about the quality of the work we’re doing with our hands. It’s the quality of the experience that we’re giving our client and how we are making them feel. That is the product.

But I think there’s even something more deep, but that’s a great place to start. You know, we can start talking about just cause and infinite game and things like that which I encourage you to get into, but you need to know with clarity what the purpose of your business is. You need to know what the regular actions are that serve that purpose.

Okay? If you know what the purpose of your business is, what are the regular actions that need to be taken to serve that purpose? Again, that clarity will give you confidence, it will give you focus. If you give priority to those things that serve the purpose of your business. Again, you will start to reap the benefits of that. Your stress levels will start to go down because you have clarity, which gives you confidence, which gives you certainty all of the good things.

And I’ve just got a note here for myself. Know the difference between urgent and important, but I’ve kind of already covered that. If you want to learn more about that, jump into The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and look for the bit where he talks about the time management matrix.

And he’ll help you to understand that there are kind of four quadrants that activities fall into urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, not urgent and important. And of course not important and not urgent. And hopefully we don’t need to worry about that quadrant four. But what you’ll find out is he talks about, we tend to spend a lot of time in quadrant three, which is that quadrant, which is urgent things that are urgent.

But when you pull back from it, the activity isn’t all that important. It’s not contributing to your objectives, your goals. Whereas quadrant two are things that contribute to your goals. Quadrant two stuff normally falls under the headings of preparation, prevention, and planning.

The three PS, and they contribute to the attainment of your goals or objectives, but there’s no urgency in quadrant two. They’re just important. And that’s why often they don’t get done because we react to urgency, but we need to learn to respond to importance. And we make decisions as to what my priority is based on the importance of the activities.

So talked about the why I’ve talked about the what.

Now talk about the how. Once you understand what the purpose is of your business, and you understand what those regular actions are that serve that purpose. The how is we just need to do those actions first. This is the key to this.

And I love this because it’s so simple. I’ve taught time management for 150 years, like a long, long time. And I think it can become quite complex and the more I’ve taught it, and the more I’ve unpacked it and the more I’ve experienced it in the more we’ve tried all sorts of different things. The most simple approach seems to be the most effective approach.

And that is what is my priority? Do it first. What is my priority? Do it first. It’s that simple. Again, if we talk about Stephen Covey with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he does a wonderful demonstration where he gets a big jar and he puts these big rocks in it and ask the audience, is the jar full? They’ll go, yeah, it’s full. And he goes, well, what about all of the gaps?

And he pours some gravel in the gaps between the big rocks and then asked the audience, is the jar full now? And they go, yeah, it’s full when he goes, well, what about the gaps in between the gravel? So he puts all sand in it and bangs it around and settles the sand in between the gaps in the gravel. And he says, now is the jar full? And everyone goes, yes.

And he gets a jar of water and pours that in. And the jar of water also goes in because it seeps into the gaps in between the grains of sand. And he asked the question, what is the purpose of this demonstration? And the majority of time people say, ah, you can always fit more in, you can fit more in than you thought you could in the beginning.

That’s the meaning that people take from that. And he says, no, that’s not the meaning of this exercise. And he said, the meaning of this exercise is learnt through the answer to this question. If these big rocks represent the most important thing. So these are your super important personal and professional goals. Okay?

And the actions that are connected to your personal and professional goals. If these big rocks represent those things. The question is, if I didn’t put the big rocks in first, would they fit? And the obvious answer is no. Like if you put the water and the sand and the gravel in first, the big rocks would sit on top of it and they wouldn’t all fit in the jar.

So we got to put that in first. So the key to this philosophy is understanding what your priority is and do it first. An example is for, or why this is important for you to do on a daily basis. This is if, imagine if you had a printing press and the number of leaflets or whatever comes out at the end of your printing press determines your income for the day.

What I would see most people doing is run that printing press flat out. You know, they would just have it going 24 hours a day because the longer I run it, the more I print, the more income I make. But what happens with that analogy, if you’re running that printing press 24 hours a day, it’s going to break down, it’s going to wear out. Okay?

So the sensible thing would be to stop printing for a certain part of the day and do some maintenance. Okay there’s a couple of levels here. The first thing you need to do is stop your printing press. And if you’re not getting the analogy, you are the printing press. You personally are the printing press and you’re out there banging nails into wood.

As long as you can at some stage you’re gonna need maintenance. I don’t know how many builders I’ve spoken to young guys who were saying my body, can’t keep up with this. I’ve got to get off the tools. And that’s just from the physical point of view. So that’s one thing you can do.

You’ve got to maintain the printing press, but to do the maintenance on the printing press, you need to stop printing. But just by doing the maintenance on the printing press, all that will do is allow you to produce a certain amount of output every day. But you’ll at least you’ll be consistent.

You’ll be able to continue to produce that same amount of output and you’ll, and you won’t have to deal with the cost of breakdowns and things like that because you’re doing the proper maintenance to it. But the next level is what if there’s some sort of turbo charger that you can fit to this machine, you’ve got to stop and you’ve got to fit the turbo charger.

So when you fire it up next time, it’s really spitting the stuff out. And it spits out twice as much as what it used to. And if you’re doing that and then doing the regular maintenance, I’m spitting out twice as much. And then what if there is some sort of whizzbang printed circuit board that you can now put in the turbo charger to make the turbocharger more effective, but you’ve got to stop and you apply that.

And all of this improvement to your printing press allows you to produce more, to produce more, to produce more, but you’ve got to stop. And my question to you is, would it be worthwhile to your business to stop every so often every day and do some maintenance and do some improvement, time blocks and maintenance and some improvements every day, every day because that will give you greater productivity down the track.

Super important. All of this is counter-intuitive, it’s not something that you will feel like doing, but it is something that I encourage you to do because it will make a massive difference to your future.

The other thing is, you know I just want to reiterate that, having one priority and understanding what priority means. It means do at first. It’s like, you know, the surfers, the surfer who has priority, he gets first choice of that wave and then a different surfer will have priority.

They get first choice of the wave, but it’s all about doing it first. Identifying what your priority is and do it first. Now, if you want help with this, we’d love to help you. I’ve put a link in the Facebook comments and you can click on that link and organize a chat with us.

So we can help you implement these ideas into your daily business. Finding out what your priority is and learning how to build plans, to stick to it. Changing the mindset, so you can become more and more productive all of the time. All you need to do is hit the link. If you’re watching it on the blog, there’s a button underneath.

If you’re watching it on YouTube, there’s a link in the description. And if you’re listening, all you need to do is navigate to buildersbusinessblackbelt.com.au and there’s some buttons on the site that you can book a call on.

We’d love to talk to you. I mean, all we need to do is find out where you are, where you wanna go. What’s in the way, and we can point you towards what you need quickly as possible.

Saves you mining the dirt to get to the gold. We’ll just go bang. Here’s the gold, point you in that right direction straight away. Again, if you are watching live and you haven’t already done so chuck in live or hashtag live. And if you’re watching the replay, sometime later, put in hashtag replay.

Q & A
Real quick, Q and A, and this is gonna be quick because I’m not going to answer the question. The question was is how do I get more work? I need more money. The answer to that is getting more work and having more turnover. Isn’t the answer to your problem.

And if you go back right to the start of the intro, to all of these podcasts, you’ll see a guy with a beard, his name’s Mike Michalowicz, He wrote Profit First. And he says, when he talks to people who say turnover is the answer to improving your business. He doesn’t agree with that.

Oh, I’ll let you watch it at the start of the podcast. So if you go right back to the start, you’ll see him pop in sort of five minutes in or something like that. And he says, turnover is not the answer. And so what is the answer? Part of the answer is what I’ve been talking about already.

Another part of the answer is having a quality client pathway because the secret to having a remarkable business is a business that has less customers, not more so you can give those customers your attention, give them a great experience.

They’ll go and find the other great quality customers for you. You don’t have as much work to do. You don’t have as much stress to deal with. So if you’ve got less customers that are willing to pay you a premium, you end up making more money, doing less work with less stress.

So if you’re not making enough money currently now, I would suggest that you need to look at the efficiency and the effectiveness of your business, particularly your systems and your processes, your quality client pathway, who you’re working for, how you’re working with them, how you manage your team.

All of those sorts of things before you start trying to get more work and put it into a broken system. Because that’s what I see, so many, not just builders doing but businesses doing, they increase their business, but their fundamental business model is broken. It’s flawed. And when you start to pump more numbers through it, it just expands the problems that you’ve got exponentially.

So I hope that helps. I hope it gets you thinking a little bit differently. I know I didn’t answer your direct question, but I don’t want to give you the answer to a question that’s fundamentally flawed.

Idea of the Week
Idea of the week. That just gives us the opportunity to show the floating light bulb. The idea of the week comes from one of our past Builders Business Blackbelt members, and he created a viewable scoreboard on site. And I just thought, I’d share this with you because it’s something simple you can do, and it can make a profound difference to the productivity on site.

Whenever there is a scoreboard, it creates focus. It creates competitiveness within individuals and between individuals. And so what Sam used to do, he would put a viewable scoreboard. So it’s just basically a white board. And he would say, this is how much time we’ve allowed for this particular activity.

So it might be putting the windows in. It might be hanging the doors. It might be putting all the arcs and skirts on or whatever it is, but this is the time that we’ve budgeted. And every day they would, you know, that might be in blue and it’s like a bar chart. And then every day they would fill out the percentage of how much of that they had done or how much they had to do.

And when they started to get in front, they started to challenge themselves. And he said it was amazing. The impact that a viewable scoreboard has on the team is absolutely incredible.

So if that’s something you want to implement into your business, again, love to help you to do that. It’s fairly straightforward. Just jump on a call. We can have a chat about it and help you understand how you can implement some of these cool ideas that really gets the team significantly more focused and productive on site. Very, very powerful.

Takeaway & Jump On A Call
The takeaway. We always do a takeaway on the podcast. The takeaway for today, I just think is wrapped up in a saying by Zig Ziglar and Zig Ziglar was from Texas.

And he died a few years ago. And he would always say, if you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep on getting what you’ve been getting. And so you can pay attention to the stuff that we’ve talked about in this podcast and previous podcasts and start to implement it.

Do things differently, think differently, have different systems and procedures, and constantly improve them, or keep doing things exactly the same way. If you do things exactly the same way, see Zig isn’t completely accurate because if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting. That’s not exactly true either, because if you keep doing it, you’re going to get further and further behind.

Because if you’re not improving, you are getting worse. You’re either green and growing or you’re ripe and rotting. You can’t tread water. You can’t have status quo in a business. If the business isn’t improving, it is getting worse. It’s heading towards collapse.

So you’ve got to be doing things to improve it. You’ve got to have time blocks to do that improvement every single week or every single day. And it needs to be a commitment and you need to be understanding what is your next most important thing? What is my priority? And do it first, then move to the next.

So I hope this has been thought-provoking. As I said, we’d love to help you implement any and all of this. And it just starts with a conversation. So I would love you to just organize a conversation with us. I don’t know where it’s gonna go?

We’ll be able to help you or we won’t be able to help you, but by having a conversation, at least we’ll know one way or the other.

There’s no pressure. You don’t need to bring a credit card. There’s nothing that we’re gonna sell you. It is just a conversation to find out where you are, where you want to go. What’s in the way? And where can we point you? What’s the best direction for you to go for your purposes?

So hope this was thought-provoking, hope it gets you booking a call so we can get to talk to you. And I hope the ideas really stimulated some thought for you to start to do things and think about things a bit different. We’ll be back again next week. I know this is Wednesday and we traditionally do this on a Tuesday.

We’re back to Tuesdays next week, 10:00 AM in the Builders Business Success forum on Mick Hawes Builders Coach, Facebook, where else? In the Builders Business Blackbelt Facebook, and a couple of YouTube channels.

So if you want to join us live, join us live, say, hey, ask some questions in the chat. And again, if you haven’t already put in hashtag live, if you’ve watched this live. Hashtag replay, if you’ve watched the replay.

We’d love to be talking to you real soon. I’m Mick Hawes from Builders Business Blackbelt. That’s it for another episode of Builders Business Success podcast. Bye for now.

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