I just don’t have time to do the things I need to do. I get in early, leave late, still have a ton of things on my task list. I know we’re all busy and that’s as it should be. But this is crazy. I’ll never get through it all. Feel like I’m drowning. What can you suggest?
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Start the day with one of the big, bad, important to do’s. Set realistic expectations. Organize based on importance. Hire to your weaknesses. Learn to delegate effectively.
Begin with a really important, really ugly, really overwhelming task. Get it out of the way while you’re fresh and the rest of the day will seem easy.
Decide what’s urgent, what’s important and weed out squeaky wheels. Compare time available versus time needed for urgent and important items. Consider letting some tasks sit, as many things can fall away without consequences or get resolved without needing additional action if you stay out of it.
Be realistic about what you can get through. How much can you delay? How many more tasks might roll onto your list as the week unfolds? Avoid the temptation to commit to 10 hours of tasks in an eight-hour day.
Most business owners work at home as well as in the office. Where will you be most productive? Plan what’s best to take home vs. what to tackle in the office. And don’t waste time throwing things into your briefcase to carry home just to bring them back the next day untouched.
What gets in the way of accomplishing tasks? Interruptions: put a “do not disturb” sign on your door. New requests: have someone handle traffic, diverting as much as possible to other people. Procrastination: discipline yourself to sit and work efficiently for a solid block of time. Lack of expertise often masks itself as procrastination: identify the expertise needed, hire it and delegate the work.
Items should get priority if they’re likely to grow sales, boost profits, or avoid disasters. Focus on increased sales activity, targeting the right prospects, growing margins. Concentrate on additional and improved marketing activities that generate new leads and customer support programs to boost retention and profits. In operations work on improving throughput and quality, eliminating costs, reducing breakdowns and waste. Prioritize employee training, retention and hiring key assets for the future. Make sure positive cash flow, growing cash reserves and staying in budget are all on the list.
Get ahead of the problem by thinking long term. Build a long-term plan with sales and expense forecasts. Give priority to solving big long-term issues that will eliminate short-term problems.
Many business owners make the mistake of hiring people who are just like them. Instead, look for people who complement you — they’re good at things you’re not. Build a well-rounded team that can handle things you don’t want to, can’t get to and/or aren’t good at doing.
Keep lists of items delegated, including dates due. Weekly, have people turn in their lists with done items checked off and past dues redated. Set up calls to touch base with each person who owes you something, or communicate via email, to find out who’s on track and who’s getting buried.
Hold people accountable for completing tasks on time. Give them the opportunity to express concern upfront when tasks are handed to them, but don’t tolerate excuses when due dates roll around and tasks still are incomplete. Find out who you can count on, and who needs additional training, more assistance, or replacement. The more productive and accountable your team becomes, the less will land in your lap.
LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “To-Do List Formula: A Stress-Free Guide To Creating To-Do Lists That Work!” by Damon Zahariades.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc. in Stamford, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com.