“Looking back, my life seems to be one long obstacle course, with me as the chief obstacle.” – Jack Paar
There are too many leaders today spending time doing things they shouldn’t do. In our seemingly nonstop quest to be as busy as possible, we take on tasks and responsibilities that don’t have any business being on our list of things to do. Why not? Because we’re not good at them and there are other things we could do that would be a better use of our time.
And yet, we keep doing them. Whether it’s simply habit (I’ve always done this), or lack of trust (nobody but me is able to do this), or some other reason, we latch on to things that aren’t our highest and best use and refuse to let go. So get rid of that stuff.
Instead, add three words to your toolbox: eliminate, delegate, and outsource. They seem simple, but too often we lose sight of their power in our quest to be everything and everywhere.
Eliminate. The reality is that some things you do should be done by no one. Maybe they make you feel good about yourself, or maybe they’re just a work version of comfort food, but they’re wasting your time. Maybe it’s a report you always prepare that nobody looks at, or information you review that you never act on. You might need help identifying these since none of us likes to admit we’re wasting time. Regardless of how you do it, just stop doing it.
Delegate. If you’ve hired people who are even remotely competent, let them do some of the things you’re doing. For one thing, some of them would probably be better at it than you are. Plus, you get the chance to develop those people and give them opportunities to grow. If nobody who works for you can do anything you’re doing, then maybe you need to rethink your hiring process.
Outsource. There are probably some things that technically are required, but aren’t required to be done by anybody within your organization. Learn what you’re not good at and find an expert to help. If you don’t have a specialist in-house who really knows what they’re doing, find somebody on the outside who does. It could be IT or accounting or HR or whatever.
Last thought: Sometimes I have this conversation with leaders and we get to the last one (Outsource) and they say “yes, I should do that”, and they even know who could do it – but it costs money. Ask yourself what you and your people could be doing with the time that would be freed up by outsourcing some of these things. What products could you work on? What customers could you serve? What potential customers could you reach? You’re not just paying to outsource something. You’re paying for the time to do things that are super valuable.
Don’t be the bottleneck in your business. You’ve worked too hard; don’t build to fail. Be the reason it becomes what it should be.