3 Methods to Create More Time in Your Day
There is a great deal of business advice for CEOs and business owners available on LinkedIn and other sources. Some of it is excellent, but even if you only read the best of the best, implementing those ideas is difficult. There are many time management tools but even after utilizing them, at the end of the day we seem to have been unable to find the time to initiate any strategic new ideas. Working more hours is just not realistic. Most of us are not getting enough exercise and sleep to begin with so there is nowhere to draw extra hours from. The only remaining way to create more hours in the day is to eliminate tasks that you are presently spending time on. There are 3 methods to do this:
- Say No
Delegate – Delegation of tasks to employees is an obvious method and many feel that they have tapped out this approach. It may feel like a domino effect – as you delegate tasks to an employee they have to work longer or delegate to someone else. If you believe that you are in this situation it is time to ensure that all your employees are aligned to the company’s vision and strategy. If you have effectively communicated where you are going as an organization and how you will get there, it becomes possible to delegate tasks to employees by substituting a strategic new task for another task that can be abandoned (we will discuss abandoning tasks as “say no”).
Another reason that entrepreneurial business owners fail to delegate is frustration that no one can do some important tasks as well as they can. This can become the fatal flaw that turns your business into a job. The time you are spending working in your business is nothing more than a job. It is when you are working on your business that you are building long term value. Working on your business includes implementing the ideas that will improve the business. They may be improved processes, new products or services, better employee recruitment and training, or even a new business model. As hard as it may be, those important tasks in the business must be delegated. Their delegation requires selecting and training the employees, documenting the processes to be followed, and using key performance indicators (KPIs) to assure that the work is being done to the proper standard. This is the difference between a building long term value in a business and being self-employed.
Outsource – Very simply stated outsourcing is delegating outside your own business. It is a method available to companies regardless of size. The beauty of outsourcing is that tasks common to many different businesses that are not a competitive differentiator can be turned over to someone who combines them with the needs of others and becomes very proficient at them. This leaves you more time to focus on your core competencies.
Outsourcing may also be less costly and improve cash flow. Certain capital expenditures can be avoided. The outsourcer may have better designed processes and can maintain a higher utilization rate on the necessary resources. If you make payroll on a weekly or bi-weekly basis the outsourcer may offer 30 day terms creating a positive cash flow impact.
Outsourcing, like delegating, requires proper training, processes, and KPIs. When selecting an outsourcer, it is critical to assure the agreement addresses these elements and the outsourcer has the resources and commitment to make good on their contractual obligations.
Over the last 20 years Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has emerged as a distinct industry category. Tax accounting, financial reporting, and legal support are functions that nearly every business outsources because of the special skills and credentials required. Today the functions that are readily available for outsourcing include bookkeeping, human resources, payroll, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and call centers.
Say No – I include in this category ceasing some tasks that you have been performing by default or habit. For example, are there regularly scheduled meetings that no longer produce the value they did when they were set up? Are you preparing or reviewing reports on metrics that are no longer KPIs? This coming week, challenge each task before you begin it. What value is it producing? Is it advancing your strategic objectives?
For some people, particularly those whose personality is cooperative, it is difficult to say no. This is true in dealing with employees, customers, and others in the business environment. When we overcommit we are doing a disservice to those we commit to. Delighting customers (and employees) requires exceeding expectations and overcommitting makes that impossible.
How can you do a better job of saying no? For starters, when you are asked about taking on a new task, stop and think for several seconds before responding. Too many times we agree immediately without thinking. Pausing demonstrates that you are considering the request. Use that time to remind yourself of your strategic objectives and consider whether taking on that task will further your achievement of those objectives. If not, you can say no with the confidence that you have avoided committing to something that is more likely to be accomplished by someone else and that detracts from your strategic goals.
Many of the tasks that we deal with in business are projects that have a completion date a month or more out. In these situations it may feel like we can find the time to work them in. How often do you review your projects and find yourself having completed 50% of 6 projects? Could you have completed 100% of 3 projects if you were more focused? Your numbers may be different but the key is to strive to complete projects not juggle projects. Saying no will help get you there.
Here is a thought to help deal with reluctance or guilt around saying no – saying no is really saying yes to more important things.
Applying these 3 methods can be an effective approach to creating more time to focus on the actions that contribute to achieving your strategic objectives.