Changing Habits

Stop losing money on productivity

wrote this on October 7, 2014
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Whether you follow the teachings of GTD®, Inbox Zero, Pomodoro or any other productivity method, money is a key driver.  This is especially the case if you are a business owner.  Many tasks on our ever growing task can and be assigned a $$$ value that affects our bottom line.

How many times have you found yourself worrying and spending countless time on tasks that only contribute a minuscule amount towards your revenue?   Why focus on Customer A who may purchase $1,000 and procrastinate on Customer B who may purchase $1,000,000?  Sometimes Customer A may be louder, send constant emails and call you incessantly, but that doesn’t justify working on his task first, quite the opposite.  It’s your responsibility to prioritize your limited resources on the those tasks that will increase your P and lower your L (that is…Profit and Loss)

The 80 / 20 rule developed by Pareto many moons ago can be applied in helping us decide what we need to do.  As applied in this scenario, the 80/20 rule suggests that 80 % of benefit (read “money”) can be attributed to 20% of tasks on our list.  If that’s the case, we better focus our attention on the highest yielding activities on our to-do list.

I’m sure we can all agree on that…

If that’s the case, why are not more productivity methods and apps helping see the light?  I ask this question even though I work at IQTell and could be partly to blame.   Even though the above is obvious once read, my eyes only truly opened after a Skype session with one of our users.  He asked me about a way that he could track money associated with tasks.  Often, when we hear this question, it’s always about how much time and money is spent on a task, mostly so the user can then charge back his customers so I was ready with an answer.

But here, it was different.  He told me that he has 100’s of customers that generate many more tasks for him and his team.  Still very productive, he often felt something was off.  After deeper analysis he realized that he needs another filter.  It’s not enough to think in terms of context, time needed, etc.  He wanted to clearly see those tasks that will get him the most revenue.

Together we quickly added another field to his Workspace, we named it “Revenue”, call it what you want…but once added, its impact was instant. Especially for me as I did not think about this too much (…or at all).  We suddenly were able to sort by $$$ and it as clear as night and day what tasks need to be done while which can be delayed.  Now, it doesn’t matter if Customer A yells until he is blue in the face, the team has clear marching instructions.    (See simple Set Up at end of post).

List View iqtell productivity app


Don’t get me wrong, nagging customers is not our goal, but effective productivity is.  What good is it to be super productive, get stuff done, but not have enough revenue to reach our financial goals?

Regardless of whether you are in sales, a business owner or a home maker, many tasks have a financial component to them. Here’s another example to get you thinking outside of the box.

In our personal sphere, we are also juggling countless tasks.  Perhaps paying someone to pick up laundry and do our shopping is justified if we can finally finish the task of refinancing our mortgage.  If we did a quick analysis of how much money we can save with a refinance (thousands of dollars over the course of the mortgage vs. a small cost of paying someone for a few hours).   Sure you can do everything, and if you can great.  However, I am sure we often procrastinate on those tasks which could help our bottom line, simply because they are new to us and we are not sure about how to go about them.  Often, we rather fall back on the excuse that we have other stuff on our plate and are quick to cross off those repetitive and easy tasks that also take quite a bit of time; e.g., grocery shopping & picking up the dry cleaning could easily swell to two hours door to door…

One final thought, I’m sure some of you have thought about the priority flag as doing the same as $$$ or Revenue as we called it.  However, priority gets vague after a while.  I can guarantee you that $$$ doesn’t.  Looking and sorting a task list based on $$$ will shed a whole new perspective on what’s important and what can wait.

How to set up your “Revenue” field in IQTell:

(Total set-up time: 90 seconds)

  1. Log into your account
  2. Right-click on Actions in left panel – Folder Configuration – Form Editor
  3. Expand “Selection” on left
  4. Drag “New” and Drop anywhere on Form
  5. Name it “Revenue” or whatever you’d like
  6. Save & Close the window
  7. Open your Actions list
  8. Click the Gear Icon
  9. Drag & Drop “Revenue” from left to right column & Save

Note: 1: As you use Revenue criteria, populate with whatever revenue values make sense to you

Note 2: I’d recommend using a selection field (Step 3) since you can easily search and filter on these fields, selection fields are pick-list fields.  More info here

Form Editor iqtell productivity app

How to set up your Filters in IQTell (e.g., Tasks with value over $5,000)

(Total set-up time: 45 seconds)

  1. Log into your account
  2. Open Saved Searches in left Panel (if not visible, click More)
  3. Press “New”
  4. Name : “>$5000” or whatever name you’d like
  5. Search In: select “Actions”
  6. Drag & Drop “Revenue”
  7. Select “$5,000” & Save

Note:  “$5,000 is value used in the selection / pick list field of Revenue; obviously use whatever values are relevant to you.

Saved Search iqtell productivity app


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