Prioritize, Outsource, and Free Up Your Time with This One-Hour Management Exercise

With so much to do in the day, you may feel the pressure to do it all–answer email and calls, schedule meetings, and other administrative tasks.

Especially if you’re a business owner, you may feel like you’re drowning in time-sucking activities that are important, but also get in the way of other things you need to do.

The good news is that you don’t have to be stuck in a vicious cycle of being waylaid by time-consuming tasks. You can create free time through this one-hour management exercise below.

Note: You can come back to this exercise when you feel like you’re in a time crunch and revise what’s working and not working for you. You should see your schedule as a work-in-progress, not something set in stone.

1. Make a list of everything that is sucking up your time

To get this process started, you need to make a make a 6-column sheet.

  • Column 1 – Add the items on your list. Count how many items you have on your list. This becomes your rating system (e.g., if you have 10 items – you will use ratings from 1 to 10)
  • Column 2 –  How important is this task to your business success? (10 is the most important, 1 is least important)
  • Column 3 – How much do you dislike doing this task yourself? (10 is I hate it, 1 is I love it)
  • Column 4 – How much time a month is it taking you to do this task yourself? (10 is the most amount of time, 1 is the least amount of time)
  • Column 5 – How likely is it that you could train or hire someone to do this task for you? (10 is most likely, 1 is not at all likely)
  • Column 6 – Add up your ratings per task.
  • This exercise is helpful for a few different reasons.
    • One, it forces you to really think about how you are spending your time.
    • Two, you need to think about what’s really important to your business.
    • Three, you may realize there are groups of tasks that you could train someone else to do.  
    • The goal is to create a snapshot of the tasks that are the most important to your business, that you dislike doing the most, that take the most amount of time and that you could train someone else to handle. You will focus on these tasks for the next part of this exercise.

2. Start another sheet or reorganize what you have done so far.

Look at the first sheet of paper and start to look for tasks that are most likely to be reassigned or outsourced that are similar. Then you’ll group them together on this second sheet.

For example, if weekly data entry into Quickbooks, check writing, and reconciliation are all on your list, put those together. If updating sales goals, checking call logs, and reviewing weekly sales data is on your list, put that in a group.

3. Calculate how many hours a month you are spending in each category.

Now that you have these groups of tasks, you should categorize them. Maybe it’ll be Admin Tasks, Accounting Tasks, Marketing Tasks, HR Tasks, and Business Tasks. Let the activities guide you in the categorizing process.

Then within each of these categories, add up how many hours you’re spending per month on these tasks. Your calendar can help you with some of this, especially if you’ve already scheduled your time down to the minute

In this example, it’s clear that the business owner could free up a ton of time by adding some support in the following three areas:

  1. Accounting/ Bookkeeping – 3 hours a week, 12 hours a month
  2. Marketing Tech -7 hours a week, 28 hours a month
  3. Admin – 2 hours a week, 8 hours a month

These little tasks really start to add up. In this case, the business owner was spending 48 hours a month on tasks, that in hindsight could easily be grouped together, delegated or outsourced.

4. Estimate how much it would cost you to hire someone to handle each category.

So now that you have the time for these tasks, you can estimate how much it will cost. Depending on the task, this could be re-assigning this to someone in-house, hiring a contractor, or even outsourcing overseas.

Depending on the skill level needed for each task, the costs will most likely be directly proportional. There’s also the cost of time. Some of these tasks may take some time to train someone on, so it may be easier and more cost-effective to assign a task to someone in-house first.

Even still, you may be surprised at how much this ends up costing, especially if you end up saving a lot of time.

5. Think about who you could assign, hire, or outsource to take on the tasks in this category.  

With the estimated costs in hand, then you can determine who would be best to handle these tasks. Remember that, again, you should think about if it will take a lot of time to train someone from outside of your organization vs. assigning the task to someone in your organization who may need very little training.

If you don’t have someone on your team to help, check out an outsourcing platform like Upwork, where you can post your job and freelancers will bid on your gig!

There are literally thousands of people out there who would love to lighten your load and take on tasks that are sucking up your valuable time.

6. Next time, you find yourself doing a group of tasks, document the exact process you follow to complete the task in a step by step manner, leaving nothing out.

Now that you’re ready to delegate this task to someone else, it’s time to document it so you can have it completed just as you want it done. Give yourself time to do this because, especially if you’re really good at doing this task, many steps will be automatic for you-you won’t even think about them. This can mean that you’ll easily forget to write those steps down. If it helps, bring one of your employees to watch what you do and have them ask questions while you do it.

7. Use your instructions to train someone else to complete the tasks.

After you’ve documented the process of your task, you can now train someone else–whether it’s a current employee, a new hire, a contractor, or to some outsourced help. You may find that you may have missed some steps in documenting the process, so give you and the new person responsible for this task some time to work out the kinks.

8. Go do something more purposeful and profitable during your newfound free time. Or simply take a break to enjoy your success.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully delegated some tasks! You can breathe a little easier.

Now you can review the free time that you’ve gained from this process. Has there been something you’ve been wanting to do more of, like spend more time with your family? Or take up a new hobby? Attend a training? The possibilities are endless.

This process can take some time, in the beginning, so be patient. It may be easy to revert back to your old ways and just try to do everything yourself. But remember-you wanted more free time and less stress. So the only way out is through, and that can be found through prioritizing and outsourcing your tasks so you can free up your time.

Delegation can be your business’s salvation, but only if you let it.

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