As business owners, key managers and executives, our time is our most valuable asset (and the one that we are most wasteful of). When it comes to investing money into resources and initiatives, we granularly track ROI to make sure we’re getting the most out of our dollars. Why do we not do the same when it comes to spending time?
 
Are you actively defining your priorities and allocating most of your time to those tasks? Or are unexpected issues, fighting fires, or distractions dictating your time and taking precedence over what is truly important? In 2020, take back your power over your schedule by focusing on ROT (Return on Time).
 

Not Every Task is Worth Your Time

 
For most of us, saying “no” does not come naturally. When we do, we often feel guilty about disappointing a colleague or anxious about denying a client’s request. Saying “no,” and setting limits is an important skill to help you stay focused on your priorities.
 
Take some time to determine three to five high-value activities, which are activities that produce your most important outcomes. Low-value activities produce results that, will still necessary, aren’t nearly as important (they don’t have a real impact on your success). When taking on a new task, ask yourself, “Does this activity ultimately impact the bottom line of my business?” and “Does this activity bring me closer to accomplishing my goals?”
 

Delegate What You Can

 
If the task is not necessary for your job function or has no bearings on your goals, delegate it to someone else so you can focus on what is essential to drive your business forward. Delegation is a skill that you develop through experience, and while it is often hard to let go, giving your team members more responsibility strengthens their trust with you and motivates them to step up to the plate. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when delegating:
 

  • Delegate to the right person: Identify a reliable team member whose skills or interests may fit well with the task. Consider outsourcing tasks that may need specialized or expert knowledge or skills for execution.
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  • Provide the training and resources needed: “It’ll just be quicker if I do it myself.” Have you said that before? While it may take a little extra time on your end to teach someone how to do the delegated task, it will save you more time in the long run.
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  • Focus on the outcomes, not the process: Another team member may do a task a little differently than you would do yourself. Unless you feel strongly about a specific process or provide a template, overlook differences in how they completed the job if it still produces a quality result in a time-efficient manner.

 

What About Fires?

 
Does it feel like you’re always putting out fires? It’s hard to spend your time strategically when it seems like you’re going from one crisis to the next. For any business to be profitable, there needs to be standard operating procedures, clear communication lines and basic workflow. When you are dealing with a fire, a specific system or communication plan is not in place that addresses the issue at hand, and it disrupts your workflow and the workflow of others. How are you teaching your team to handle fires, so they don’t require 100% of your time and energy?
 
Train your team to be so good at mastering systems and procedures, especially those “in case of emergency” procedures, that they can respond quickly and efficiently without needing your assistance. Hopefully, buttoning up the processes will help to eliminate common errors that escalate to big problems. Still, when the significant issues do occur, they’ll have the resources available to address it themselves without getting you involved in the whole process.
 
Do you know your ROT? Contact me to set up a time audit and prioritization consultation.