Some days it seems that no matter how hard we try, we can't get ahead of our schedules. There are always tasks that don't get completed, calls that don't get made, emails that don't get answered.
There are 2 solutions to mastering time that many entrepreneurs resist:
This is especially true of solopreneurs who are often on a shoestring budget, and who may struggle with the idea of releasing control. Sometimes it seems easier to say, "I'll just do it myself" rather than investing time in finding someone to help you out.
I view all of my daily activities through a 4-paned window:
- I love what I have to do and I'm great at it.
- I don't like what I have to do but I'm good at it.
- I like what I have to do but I'm not good at it.
- I don't like what I have to do, and I don't do it well.
In addition, I ask myself, "Is this the best use of my time? I may love what I have to do, and I may do it really well, but can I outsource it someone else who can do it better, faster, or cheaper?
My goal is to focus only on activities that I love, that I do well, and are the best use of my time.
That sounds like a great goal, but execution is what matters. So how do you find the resources to handle the tasks that we dread or tasks that are better completed by others?
Delegate and Elevate Wisely
If you have employees, the natural place to delegate is in-house if you have resources that excel in what you need. This is an important caveat.
Often employers will try to add tasks to an employee's plate because they happen to be available, not because they are the best people to the job. This can lead to a lot of problems, including poor execution, high frustration, and decreased employee morale.
Delegating a task to an employee requires forethought and follow-up. The most successful delegation happens when employers follow these steps:
1: Clearly identify the tasks and deliverables.
2: Determine who you will delegate the tasks to. Ensure that you are not asking someone to take on additional responsibilities that do not align with their strengths, talents, or readiness. Employees must be able to manage themselves before taking on the responsibility of managing others.
3: Create a management plan for the person assigned to these tasks. When we delegate tasks, we don't release responsibility or ownership of that task. Rather, we have added to our own accountability because we are now responsible for the performance of others. The quality of our own performance is directly tied to the performance of those we manage.
4: Schedule regular status meetings with the employee(s) now responsible for these tasks to ensure they aren't in over their head, and are able to deliver.
If you don't have employees to whom you can delegate, outsourcing is a great way to clear your plate of everything you shouldn't be doing. Especially in today's online, platform-centric environment, where everything moves quickly, business owners must turn to specialized experts to keep up.
A good rule of thumb for outsourcing is that anything that isn't related to your core competency should be outsourced. Unless you can absolutely justify a full-time resource for a specific function, it's best to outsource to experts that focus on a specific discipline full-time, stay current with the skills and technologies needed, and love to do the work.
Areas where this applies are:
- Financial management/accounting/bookkeeping
- Social media management, with platform-specific expertise
- IT management
- Web development and maintenance
- HR management
Basically, any functions that you absolutely must have to run your business but are not related to your competency are great candidates for outsourcing. Your time is best used building your strategy, meeting with prospects, building relationships with your employees and customers, developing your skills that align with your core competency, and establishing yourself as a leading authority in your industry.
There is no shortage of seemingly reputable companies to manage your critical tasks. The contingent/outsource workforce continues to grow rapidly. While these trends provide more choices, they also provide more opportunity for mediocrity or problematic work. If you choose to outsource, be selective. Check references, start slowly with a small project, and stay engaged until your partner has proven themselves. Ensure you have a termination clause that releases you from an unsuccessful engagement.
Clearing the tasks that you consider "necessary evils" from your calendar will not only free up your valuable time, it will produce better results, and make you a happier person. Isn't that worth the time it takes to delegate and outsource? Good luck!