If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a business owner wish for more time, I wouldn’t need to run my current business!
I get it – it seems like there is never enough time in the day to do all the things you’d like to do and still have any kind of a life.
But I also bet you’re doing stuff every single day you probably shouldn’t be doing. In fact, that stuff could be eating up half your day or more.
These are things that it seems like, at first glance, either you have to do because you don’t have someone you trust to do it or you need to do because customers expect it or you just do it because delegating it would take too much time to explain.
In reality, though, these are all just excuses and they get in the way of you doing things that would add a lot more value to the business than doing these things you do.
And in my experience, once you get in the mindset of handing things off to free up your time, seeing how much you can offload becomes its own challenge – and a very rewarding one at that.
So here’s the easy process to get started on finally granting yourself that wish for more time…
List, Review, Document, Delegate (Outsource), Repeat
The first step is just to make a simple list – either of what you do on a typical day or in a typical week. Just list all the tasks you normally assign yourself and take care of, whether they take a minute or an hour.
It might look like this (or it might be totally different!):
- Answer customer emails
- Create contracts
- Review/approve reimbursement requests
- Add up hours, process payroll
- Review resumes
- Schedule interviews
- Potential client sales call
- Order office supplies
- Pay utility/phone bills
- Set up new employee desk/computer
- Follow up on unpaid invoices
- Update QuickBooks
- Get new insurance quotes
- Find content creator for website articles for SEO
- Work on new brand strategy
The next step is to review the list to identify the ones that don’t have to be done by you.
At first, you may think “These ALL have to be done by me or I wouldn’t be doing them” but stop yourself from jumping to that conclusion.
Take payroll for example. You might not be in a place where you have someone you feel comfortable taking over this task and being privy to everyone in the company’s information.
But payroll usually starts with reviewing everyone’s hours and making sure vacation time, sick time, and regular reporting is accurate and complete.
In fact, that part is usually the bulk of the time payroll takes! And that could be done by someone else – an office manager, assistant, GM, or anyone else in the business that could do the work. Then you just have to do the last part of putting it in the system.
Or take the first one – answer customer emails. You may think you have to do that, but I bet 80% of the emails you get are the same 10 questions all your customers have and you probably give some pretty boilerplate answers to these.
So you could definitely write up some general email answers and train someone else in your office to answer most of these on your behalf and then just take the unique ones yourself. Of course, it will take a little training, but the time it frees up over the long term will be huge.
Some of these can also really be automated – like paying bills. Most can bet set up on autopay. Take the time to do that and save yourself all the future month’s time worrying about logging in to make those payments.
Some can be outsourced to professional providers – like bookkeeping. Rather than you spending time trying to be your own accountant, free up your time to go make more sales (which you can’t outsource) and use some of those funds to get better, more accurate bookkeeping and avoid the stress altogether.
For the ones you aren’t outsourcing to a service or set up automation, the way to properly hand them off is to make a procedure document (or video). Just telling someone – “Hey can you take care of this for me” but without clear direction and steps and a defined end result is asking for trouble.
People who do this are the same ones who will tell you there are no good employees and the only way to get something done is to do it themselves.
So the next time you do one of these tasks – write down the steps you take to do it. It won’t take long, and you only have to add enough info as someone else would need to have who has never done it. I find using screenshots (if it’s a computer task) and pasting them in a Word doc works great, or if it’s extra complex, use a free screen recorder like Loom to make a walk-through video of what to do.
It only takes a few minutes for most tasks, but then the person you are asking to do it has clear directions. Let them know exactly what success looks like when they are done so they know they finished it correctly.
Chances are you will leave something out of your procedures that seems obvious to you but not to the person trying it out.
Once they can do it the way you want it, let them know when and how often whatever else they need to know, and make it part of their regular job duties. Check-in to make sure it is getting done the first few times. After that, trust the process and only verify as necessary.
Then repeat – as you knock off more and more tasks you’ll find you have more time but then new tasks will fall on your desk. Keep moving them off!
If you make a point of doing this list-making and review at least once a month, and use the time freed up to actively grow the business, you’ll be amazed at how much you used to have to do that is now done by other people.
I started out working in my spare bedroom by myself doing everything. As of right now, we have over 70 employees and I don’t do a fraction of the things I used to do but my days are still plenty full. And now we have senior employees delegating work to junior employees following the same method so we can continue to grow and grow.
It works if you make it work!