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The Top Grey Activities That Wastes Time

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As micro-business owners, we often find ourselves juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities. While it’s essential to stay on top of our to-do lists, we often waste valuable time on activities that do not contribute to the growth and success of our businesses. These activities are known as grey activities, and they can be a significant drain on our productivity.

The five activities in any diary

The diary contains five different activities, each colour-coded for easy identification. Green stands for leading, Amber for managing, Red for expert skills, Grey for wasting time, and Blue for enjoying life. Micro-business owners know that time is a valuable resource that cannot be wasted. Therefore, we refer to Grey activities as activities that do not contribute to their organisation’s or personal goals’ growth or success. 

Green, Amber, Red and Blue activities directly contribute to a micro-businesses growth and success, such as planning, strategising, communicating, mitigating risks, reviewing results, keeping the business operating and having regular breaks for recovery and healing. On the other hand, Grey activities do not directly contribute to the growth of the business.

How do grey activities affect micro-business productivity?

Participating in non-essential and low-impact activities can significantly affect the productivity of a micro-business. These activities consume precious time that could have been dedicated to essential business tasks, which can result in project delays, missed deadlines, and reduced revenue. Based on our research, micro-business owners typically spend 35% of their time on grey activities. To free up more time, they often sacrifice their blue activities (time for living.)


Top Grey Activities for Micro-Business Owners

After analysing the diaries of micro-business owners, Go To Yellow, the parent company of The Yellow Mastermind has identified the top grey activities that take up a significant chunk of their time. These activities include administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping and data entry, as well as responding to emails and attending meetings that do not directly contribute to business growth. While these activities may seem necessary, they can quickly become time-consuming and distract us from the tasks that require our attention.

We have compiled tips for reducing grey activities to help micro-business owners maximise productivity and reduce wasted time. By implementing these tips, business owners can focus on the tasks that matter and improve their bottom line. 

Here are some of the top grey activities we’ve found in our diaries:



Having a perfectionist nature can be valuable but can also cause unproductive delays. Sometimes we focus excessively on minor aspects that have little impact on the bigger picture. While taking pride in our accomplishments is crucial, we should know when to release our hold and advance.

Desire to Overwork Unnecessarily

Many believe working longer hours will lead to greater success, but this is only sometimes true. Overworking can lead to burnout and negatively impact our mental and physical health. Many Business Owners work longer hours than they feel is necessary. On average, they work 49.4 hours per week but believe they should only be working 41.7 hours. Shockingly, 63% of Business Owners work over 50 hours per week.

If a business owner overworks, it can result in poor decision-making and ultimately lead to wasting more time. We have discovered that business owners who work excessively require micro-breaks and often utilise social media to relax during these micro-breaks. Many people seek to increase their dopamine levels and improve their concentration when in reality, they simply need to work less and maintain sustainable energy levels.

Trying to be all the Hats in Business

It’s a well-known saying that “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but often better than a master of one.” However, this only holds true when we have ample time to pursue all our interests. For micro-business owners, time is a luxury that is hard to come by. Despite this, many of us attempt to handle every aspect of our business ourselves, which may save money initially but can result in a significant waste of time. Becoming an expert in every department is a tall order, and it’s unlikely that anyone can achieve it. 

Poor Networking Groups and Private One to Ones

Networking can help our business grow but also consume a lot of time. To maximise our networking efforts, we must choose the right groups to attend and prioritise one-to-one meetings with potential clients or referral sources. While casual conversations are pleasant, hosting a webinar for a larger audience can be more valuable. We must assess how much time networking takes in our schedules and allocate it wisely.

Administrative Tasks

Administrative tasks are a necessary evil of running a business, but they can also take up a significant amount of time. If we spend much time on the lower-value tasks, we are not prioritising the impactful task. Ultimately damaging our business success and eating into our blue activities; time for living. 

Social Media Management

Have you ever been told that social media exposure is the most crucial aspect of marketing? While this statement is frequently repeated, it is only partially accurate. Every business has a distinct audience, and not all use social media. Therefore, we must choose the social media platforms and content we post carefully. Often, micro-business owners spread the same message across all platforms and keep up with the latest trends. However, each platform requires a unique strategy, and copying one across all platforms wastes time.

Commuting to Clients

Since the lockdowns began, this issue has decreased, but micro-business owners still commute to meetings without being compensated for their time. Some may also choose to use this time inefficiently, such as listening to the radio instead of a podcast, which could be a more productive use of their time.

Meetings and Calls

Did you know that business owners spend an average of 31 hours monthly in unproductive meetings? In most cases, the business owner had great intentions, but the meeting turned out to be a waste of time. It is only on reflection that this becomes apparent. Unproductive meetings may result from the owner’s communication and leadership skills rather than the other attendees. Improving these skills could lead to more productive meetings and better outcomes.


Tips to Reduce Grey Activities

The best place to begin improving the business is to explore the grey activities. This frees up time for other activities that drive the business’s and its owner’s growth and success. Suppose you want to identify Grey activities more quickly. In that case, it’s suggested that you invest in the Go To Yellow program called Productivity & Energy, which can help you gain an extra 11 hours per week using their method.

Still, here are some tips to reduce time wasted.


Create a Business Plan Each Year

Developing an annual business plan can assist in maintaining focus on our goals and priorities, preventing us from becoming distracted by unproductive tasks and enabling us to achieve our business objectives efficiently. Without a clear direction, unproductive activities can quickly take over, causing delays in progress. We must prioritise green activities (time for leading) to ensure success in our business endeavours.

Outsource Administrative Tasks

Performing administrative tasks can consume significant time and distract us from critical responsibilities. It would be wise to delegate these tasks to a virtual or administrative assistant. We can concentrate on our core business functions and enhance productivity by doing so. Start small and expand gradually if resources are limited. In the long run, the time saved on billable hours will outweigh the initial investment of time and money spent on recruiting and managing the new assistant.

Automate Social Media Management

To save time and focus on other business areas, we can use social media management tools to automate posts and track analytics. It’s a good idea to contact our network for support and ideas before seeking paid help. Free mentorship programs are available on platforms such as Enterprise Nation and DigitalBoost if we need additional assistance. While we don’t need to be social media experts, it’s essential to understand what we’re doing and set up the system to work effectively for us.

Done is Better than Perfect and Never Finishing

Striving for perfection can hold us back from being productive. It’s important to remember that completing a task, even if it’s not perfect, is better than getting stuck trying to make it flawless. Businesses are constantly evolving in response to changes in the world, which means that there will always be room for improvement. Feedback is crucial in identifying areas that need adjustments.

Pick Suitable Networking Groups and Peers to Network With

Networking is crucial, but not all networking groups and peers are equal. It’s essential to be selective in choosing which groups and peers to network with to avoid unproductive networking activities. To better understand a networking group’s business, culture, and mindset, attend three sessions before making a decision. Relationships take time to build, so it’s important to invest time to establish them. A group that cares for each other and has similar business success will be more beneficial than one without substance.

Set Time Limits

According to Parkinson’s Law, we tend to use up all the available resources. For instance, if we have £10, we will spend the entire amount. Similarly, if we have two hours to complete a task, we will take the entire two hours. Setting time limits can prevent us from overworking and taking too much time to finish a task. This approach helps us stay focused and productive.

Make Decisions Faster Then Improve

Sometimes, we may not have all the necessary information to make a decision before the business landscape or clients’ needs shift. However, delaying decisions can harm growth. It’s better to make quick decisions when possible to avoid wasting time on indecision. Keep in mind that we can always make improvements later if necessary.

Schedule Meetings and Calls that have Value

When scheduling meetings and calls, choose wisely and ensure they serve a clear purpose. Set a clear agenda and establish the desired outcomes beforehand to ensure everyone is on the same page and fully prepared. If communication is an issue, consider having attendees paraphrase what has been discussed to ensure that the meeting’s message has been clearly conveyed and understood.

Tammy Whalen Blake

Tammy Whalen Blake

Founder of The Yellow Mastermind.

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