Time-Bending without the Science Fiction
Time is the Scarcest Resource
As a fractional Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or part time Finance Director (FD), balancing your time effectively is vital. You're not just dealing with a single firm's finances - you have multiple clients relying on your expertise, often in an existential manner. Time management, therefore, becomes crucial.
The challenge is compounded when you consider that the average fractional CFO works 60+ hours a week, with most of this time consumed by transactional tasks. A pymnts.com report reveals that a fractional CFO spends 60% of their time on such tasks, leaving a mere 25% for strategic tasks as per McKinsey's insights.
"Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed." - Peter Drucker
The Potential of Financial Automation
Given these figures, it's not surprising that 80% of CFOs believe automation can boost their productivity. Automation can handle those transactional tasks effectively, freeing up time for more strategic responsibilities. Yet, a worrying statistic shows that only 39% of CFOs believe they have the tools necessary to manage their workload.
Delivering More in Less Time
Imagine being able to 'bend time' as a fractional CFO, creating an ideal balance between strategic planning and routine financial tasks. By harnessing the neuroscience behind flow techniques as well as innovative financial technologies like Mimo, this seemingly impossible feat becomes reality. You can significantly cut down on time-consuming transactional tasks, freeing up valuable hours to focus on more impactful tasks, providing strategic value to your clients and solving cashflow speedbumps. You'll also reclaim precious personal hours - time you can invest in acquiring new clients, or perhaps more importantly, in well-deserved downtime. This is the art and science of time-bending as a fractional CFO - a game-changer in how you manage your work and deliver value.
The Basic Neuroscience of Flow for Fractional CFO's
When we talk about 'flow', we're not discussing the ebb and tide of the ocean, or the steady stream of a river. Flow neuroscience is the study of optimal human performance. The powerful psychological state where attention, engagement and productivity meet in perfect harmony. The concept was introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pictured above during his TedX Talk), and it's becoming a competitive advantage for business leaders globally, demonstrated by a growing number of landmark studies. McKinsey found a 500% increase in productivity by executives who regularly access flow states and the University of Sydney found subjects to have a 430% increase in creative problem solving!
We've all experienced the sensation. Time seems to stand still, distractions fade into the background, your concentration is laser-focused, and the work just... flows.
"In a flow state, people are completely absorbed in an activity, especially an activity which involves their cognitive abilities. During this 'optimal experience,' they feel 'strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities" - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Leveraging 'flow' states as a Fractional CFO
Fractional CFOs face the Herculean task of balancing numerous roles and responsibilities across various organisations, all within the confines of time that seems to slip through their fingers. However, what if you could manipulate the perception of time, making it seem as though you have more than you actually do? The complete suite of techniques from flow neuroscience research are vast, necessitates constant practice and surpass the limits of this article. However, there are three quick, highly effective strategies that fractional CFOs can implement to create an immediate and substantial impact on their daily productivity:
Eliminate Waste and Reduce Cognitive Load
Optimising your work life requires a ruthless examination of your daily activities. The first step is to sift through the clutter, to eliminate the superfluous and thereby reduce your cognitive load. As the adage goes, 'the best code is no code':
List the activities that add value to your life, consider the trade-offs, and eliminate the rest. Start this process by drafting a comprehensive list of activities that you value, which might encompass strategic work, mentoring, coaching, family time, daily exercise, socialising with friends, traveling, and more.
Categorise any regular activity that is not on this list into Type 1 Waste - necessary actions that lack value such as cooking, commuting, data entry, payroll, payment runs, chasing supplier payments etc; or Type 2 Waste - unnecessary actions that also lack value, like incessant news updates, scrolling on social media, Netflix, or low-value social interactions.
Select the top five time-consuming activities from your Type 2 Waste and eliminate them entirely for the next four weeks.
Choose the top five from Type 1 Waste and delegate, systematise, standardise, batch, and automate them using tools like Mimo.
By undertaking this process, what will remain is time - time that you can dedicate to activities that are truly valuable and meaningful to you. After all, isn't that the fundamental purpose of time management?
Mapping your Calendar and Powering Down
Secondly, imagine that you have a series of cascading goals, yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly, meticulously planned and ready to be achieved. Create a ritualistic time, say every Sunday at 6pm, for your weekly strategy session:
Sit down to review this goal stack, aligning weekly objectives with monthly ones and moving priorities around as required, setting the tone for the week ahead.
Establish three weekly priorities that must get done no matter what
Then break each day down into one to three priorities for the day and any other less important daily goals.
Plot this task roadmap onto your calendar, outlining the minute steps needed to complete each task.
This pre-emptive planning completely eliminates the need to ponder about the task or the method to achieve it, allowing you to dive straight in and access a state of flow. However, flexibility is key. Ensure you have ample room for shifting priorities, set recurring calendar blocks for essential activities like reading, learning, exercising, and deep work. Eliminate all distractions like Slack or phone calls, and consolidate time-consuming activities like checking emails or Slack to a twice-daily batched schedule.
As the day progresses and your productivity soars, you can establish a defined end time for each day, with the preceding thirty minutes blocked out for your power-down ritual. Powering down simply means you clear out pending tasks, tie up loose ends, revisit your weekly goals, and fine-tune your daily objectives and priorities for the forthcoming day. Adjust your calendar accordingly and prepare all tasks for the next day to minimise systemic friction. And just like that, your mind is cleared and primed to enjoy family time in the evening, ready to slip into a state of flow the very next day. The science of 'time-bending' as a fractional CFO has never been more seamless and efficient.
Embracing the flow cycle
"The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare and at the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy." - Cal Newport
The game is rigged and we are all constantly losing the battle for our attention from an army of 5,000 distinct marketing tools designed to capture it. Perma-distraction is the new normal, and it has been unequivocally proven that multi-tasking or task switching leads to reduced outcomes. Focus is prolonged attention and flow can only occur with prolonged focus, thus, distraction is the enemy of flow but spikes our dopamine levels. By understanding and embracing your brains flow cycle you can fall into those timeless deep work phases more easily:
Preserve your attention span by eliminating disruptions and self-imposed distractions e.g. move your phone out of sight, turn off all e-mail or Slack notifications, close the door so the dog can't get in etc.
Once you get started 10 to 15 minutes into a longer task you'll notice that your brain starts to doubt whether this is the most important task, that you should check your phone, get a coffee...anything to get a tiny dopamine hit. Resist!
Resist by exagerrating what the outcome will be if you distract yourself, e.g. it would ruin your whole day or take 10 deep breaths to active your metacognition and struggle through.
Flow sits on the other side and a period of prolonged focus will allow you to achieve it if you resist and slip into timeless cognitive performance.
Lastly, allow yourself to recover and slowly reduce your need for stimulation, e.g. go walk in nature, read, connect socially, exercise and do it all without checking your phone.
Mimo - Work Faster and Smarter, Not Harder
Wondering how Mimo plays a part in this? It is a free financial technology platform representing the next generation of financial performance. Mimo's allows you to batch finance tasks across your various clients so you can stay focused on deep work without need to jump in and out of multiple banks and finance tools for different clients. It also tackles Type 1 Waste head-on by automating transactional tasks and systematising manual ones and empowers fractional CFOs with a customised support blanket to simplify B2B invoice payments and take back control of cashflow. In short, Mimo will help you work faster and smarter, not harder so you can focus on what really matters.
Control Cashflow with Payments on Your Terms
Eliminate wasted time with blazingly fast invoice payments and take back control of cashflow with an instant credit line and personalised financial insights.
Save up to 1 day a week with blazingly fast invoice payments and pay any domestic or international invoice in a single click and they’ll be reconciled automatically. The average CFO spends 7.2 hours per week on manual data entry. Mimo eliminates this entirely.
Extend payment terms
Control cashflow with an instant credit line to extend payment terms and optimise cashflow. We pay the clients supplier, the clients pay us back later. It's friendly, unsecured, very affordable and only incurs a cost when used. Mimo aims to directly impact the 80% of small businesses that fail due to cashflow problems.
Pay suppliers anywhere
Save up to 3% on every international payment with our market leading interbank rate. Effortless global payments in a single click.
Simplify book-keeping with real-time transaction data and automatic reconciliation in any accounting software. It's no secret that companies that automate their financial processes can reduce their costs by up to 50%.
Earn cashback on supplier spend
Offer early invoice payments to suppliers without impacting your cashflow. Unlock discounts and earn up to 3% cashback per invoice when they want their money faster. It's a win-win.
Get paid on time every time (coming soon)
No more late payments or bad debt. Send beautiful payment requests, offer flexible terms, and get paid instantly. I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that 40% of CFOs say that managing cashflow is their biggest challenge. Well, Mimo is here to change that.
A Growing Network of Empowered Fractional CFOs
Mimo has already been saving time and money and solving problems for a growing number of fractional CFOs like Robert Johns of Arjay, who uses Mimo to manage all of his clients, including Days Brewing:
"Paying supplier invoices is time consuming! With Mimo, we’re looking at significant time savings, while controlling our cashflow with the built-in credit line. We’re so excited to be working with Mimo!"
So What's Next?
You're now equipped with insights on incorporating the neuroscience behind flow into your routine and the power of financial technologies, such as Mimo, to eliminate Type 1 waste and deliver more in less time for your clients. Does Mimo sound like the tool you and your clients could benefit from? If so, you're in luck. Although Mimo is currently available free of charge, we provide an expedited onboarding package exclusive to fractional CFOs, part-time FDs and accountants and you'll skip the waitlist. This includes early access to our 'Get Paid' product for you and your clients, and a lucrative revenue share offer for additional CFOs or companies you refer. Register your interest and we'll be in touch to help get you started:
I shall leave you with some wise words to reflect upon:
"Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to." - Lao Tzu
Get limited beta access
We're making every effort to accept as many as we can. Join the waiting list, and we'll get in touch with you as soon as possible.
Subscribe to newsletter
Stay up to date with the latest insights and trends for small businesses all over the world. Always relevant. No spam.