By Christine Nelson
Even though leisure time has been inching up since 1965, our perception of time is that we don’t have enough of it.
A report in The Economist outlined all the reasons that make people in prosperous countries experience a daily time crunch. Busyness has become a badge of honor — which is the complete opposite of what the wealthy class of the past modeled to “poor working stiffs” in the pre-war eras.
It seems only right that busier people/leaders should delegate more to less-busy people, or look for ways to outsource functions for which they don’t have the skill or capacity to complete efficiently. Busy people tend to keep doing tasks too long in the name of perfection or saving money — when really neither one is ever accomplished.
Delegation is not natural or simple. We need to break habits of doing the same things we’ve always done and we need to understand how to prepare someone else to take over the task. Here are some tips to stop doing and start delegating — with the goal of more sanity if not necessarily more free time. At least this way, you can spend your time on the most important tasks that only you can do to impact your business growth and life.
1. Track your own time.
For one week, track your billable and non-billable time. I mean, everything you do in a day, whether it seems important or not. It will be an eye-opening experience to learn exactly where your time goes. Once you have a fairly comprehensive list of how you spend your time, you will easily identify tasks to delegate or even eliminate from your schedule.
2. Identify your team.
Determine the key people you can trust as your go-to team. You may discover that some people are underutilized. You may also discover that you are missing a key team member. You can choose to hire or use outsourced services to complete your team. This can include everything from a personal assistant or concierge service to an IT professional, office manager, marketing coordinator or enhanced CPA services.
3. Create a written process.
For every delegated task, there should be a written process to support quality control and replication by anyone on the team when necessary. That way, if someone is unavailable or on vacation, the task can still be accomplished. The process does not have to be long. It just needs to provide the key steps of the assignment. The person doing the assignment needs to know expectations for delivery, such as level of detail, time allotted to do the task and the deadline.
4. Instruct and coach as needed.
Don’t expect perfection the first time. And do not micro-manage. This means that you assign the task and keep your hands out of it unless the team member has a question. Check-ins are fine for longer assignments to instruct, coach or answer questions.
In time, the trusted team members you started with will be able to take on additional responsibility, which means growth for your company. They may eventually need to delegate and outsource to their own team. Be open to such requests because managing capacity will keep you in the position of working on your business instead of in it.
Christine Nelson is a senior communications consultant with Ingenuity Marketing Group in St. Paul, Minnesota. She takes on the important market research, content development and branded strategies that busy professionals need handled to compete effectively.