Advertising

Delegate Your Time Sinks and Reclaim Your Day

Delegate Your Time Sinks and Reclaim Your Day
Advertising

mopping

    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.

    Advertising

    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!

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    More by this author

    Joel Falconer

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

    3 Simple Strategies for Dealing With External Distractions How to Use Parkinson’s Law to Get More Done in Less Time How to Master the Art of Prioritization the Right Way The Importance of Scheduling Downtime How to Make Decisions Under Pressure

    Trending in Productivity

    1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
    Advertising

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

    Advertising

    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

    Advertising

    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

    Advertising

    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

    Advertising

    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next