Cash-Flow Management Includes All Of The Following Activities Except Fo Are You Playing Chess or Checkers?

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Are You Playing Chess or Checkers?

Time is our most precious resource. Time is more valuable than money. Money can be lost and recovered. Once we lose time, we never get it back. When it comes to time management, everyone plays chess or checkers. The game of chess is designed for the proactive. A successful chess player thinks two to three moves in advance compared to a checkers player who is only focused on the move directly in front of him. What game are you playing? Let me share a story to help you decide. I was the manager of a car repair shop. My best technician told me a month in advance that he was leaving my organization. He told me on May 1st that his last day would be May 31st, plenty of time to find a replacement. I started looking for new technology on May 30th at 4:00 PM! Unfortunately, I played checkers. The question is how to avoid playing checkers and make better use of your time? In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey divides time management into four quadrants. I will review these quadrants in this article. By understanding the areas Covey highlights, we will understand what game we are really playing.

Quadrant no. 1 – important and necessary

The main reason we end up playing checkers is that we wait until the task becomes important AND urgent before we start it. When I needed a technician and didn’t start looking until the last minute, I operated from this quadrant. This is what leads to firefighting. Waiting for the cash flow to dry up to start a marketing plan and not being able to balance the tires because we delayed the bike weight order are other common examples that will put us in shutdown mode. In the past, it felt like I drove a red fire engine to work. If you find yourself just reacting to what the day brings, you might have a red fire engine parked in your driveway.

Quadrant no. 2 – important and non-urgent

This is the chessmen’s quadrant. If you are doing tasks while they are important BUT NOT urgent, you are putting yourself in control of your time and not letting time control you. Examples of activities in this quadrant include implementing a recruiting strategy BEFORE you open, planning your marketing activities on a marketing calendar, and writing the day’s activities for the next day after you close the current day. We have the opportunity to help our customers play chess. We can save them time and money by showing them the value of investing in their car’s maintenance plan. Coming in every three months for maintenance is important, but not necessary compared to buying a new engine that would fall into the first quadrant. Think how much better our business would be if we all played the same game.

Quadrant #3 – Not important, but necessary

Daily interruptions and special phone calls and emails fall into this category. Often, failure to delegate effectively keeps us in this quadrant. As business runners, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we have to solve every concern, work on every car, and satisfy every customer ourselves. If we compare our day-to-day activities to the grand scheme of our business vision, we can see that a lot of the things we get involved in are not important. I discovered this many years ago when I was in my first assignment as a district manager. In the beginning, I was talking to three to four customers a day about problems that needed to be solved at the store level. I managed seventeen locations at the time. Leaders came to me and asked me for guidance and cooperation on very basic issues. Every day I went home frustrated and tired. One day, when one of my managers approached me with a basic problem, I asked him the following important question: What do you think we should do to solve this? To my surprise, he had an answer. I then thanked him for handling the situation and told him to let me know the final outcome. This approach allowed me to play the game I wanted and return my fire engine to the fire station where it belongs. He will do the same for you.

Quadrant #4 – Not Important and Not Necessary

Busy work, time wasters, and some phone calls and emails fall into this category. As an owner, any task that isn’t important or urgent is a distraction. It is important for us to identify and eliminate those daily distractions that we all have. The question we need to ask ourselves is how does the activity fit into the vision I have for the company? If we cannot find an answer, then the activity belongs in this quadrant and should be eliminated. We must be careful not to allow our people to spend time in this quadrant. Many store owners I speak to have a “no cell phone policy” in their stores. This can help our people avoid playing checkers on the clock. We live in an age of smartphones, texting and social media that can be a huge distraction. Cell phone policy is a great example of eliminating unnecessary distractions.

I am reminded of the main character played by Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption. He was serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit and after 20 years he surprisingly escaped from prison. Every day he dug into the wall of his cell, a task that was important but not necessary. He adhered to this discipline every day without allowing any unnecessary distractions. Tim’s character played chess and this allowed him to move to the next level. Which game do you want to play?

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