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Delegate Your Time Sinks and Reclaim Your Day

Delegate Your Time Sinks and Reclaim Your Day

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    What’s the number one most effective way to make more time in your day? Get other people to do the things you’d normally be doing. Many people complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day when the problem is simply that there are too many tasks in their day that could easily be given away to someone else.

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    You Can Afford It

    Even if hiring someone (probably a virtual assistant) to help out doesn’t seem cost effective upfront, it will be with a little smart planning. By giving away the low-level tasks that take up lots of time and provide few returns, you have more time to spend on high-level, high-reward tasks that will not just pay for the assistance but make it profitable to have one. If you do this right, you’ll still be doing less work — high-reward tasks make more profit in much less time.

    It’s Hard to Give the Work Away

    One problem many people have with delegation is that it’s difficult to pass on work to others. It’s easy to talk yourself into thinking that you’re the only one who can do the job right and that nobody else can be trusted to produce the results that you can. Just recognize that it’s naturally difficult to pass things on and start with the small stuff. Let yourself build up to being comfortable with your assistant — at least you’ll be using up fewer hours and costing yourself less money to begin with!

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    Don’t Pay to Delegate What You Can Eliminate

    If you are trying to palm a task off on someone else, consider whether there’s a way to completely eliminate it in the first place. If it doesn’t need to be done, you don’t need to be losing money by having someone else do it. What seems to be a given necessity isn’t always one. There may be an automated system that can be put in place as a replacement, or it’s often simply the case that many admin tasks that take up your day aren’t necessary to begin with. Always look to eliminate before you delegate.

    Ensure the Job Gets Done Right

    One thing that no amount of delegation will eliminate is the need to check that the job is done properly. If checking the job takes as long as doing the job, just do the job yourself. There are three things you can do to ensure quality work gets done.

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    Hire carefully: check each individual you consider as closely as you can. When you choose the best of the bunch, put them on a trial period and monitor their work more closely than you normally would for a while. If they are not what you expected them to be, it’s better to give them the boot now rather than later; hiring assistance is time consuming but letting the problem lie will cost you dearly the longer it goes on.

    Give good instructions
    : be clear and concise with your instructions. Be concise enough that the clarity of the instructions aren’t compromised and clear enough that the assistant can have no doubt about what is being asked of them. Ask for deliverables — “research topic X” is nowhere near as good a request as asking for a report on topic X that contains sections on Y and Z. They’ll know what to research, which aspects of the topic to focus on and how to present the information to you. Always provide deadlines, and always provide the narrowest statement possible — being vague will do you no favors.

    Give good feedback
    : while you should never hire someone incompetent to start with, there’s always room for improvement. Don’t expect that improvement to come without the right encouragement and feedback. Tell them what they’re doing wrong and how they could improve on that — and equally important, tell them what they’re doing right, or they won’t know whether or not to keep doing it.

    In most cases, that combination will ensure you get good results from your assistant and can even whip an underqualified individual into shape pretty quickly.

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    Good luck with delegation. It can be tough and scary, but you’ll wish you’d done it earlier when you have a few more hours in the day.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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