By Dean Breyley
- Do you know where your time and energy truly goes while you are working?
- Do you focus your time, energy, and attention on the most valuable work that gets the best results for you and your business?
- Does your work bring you joy and motivation?
The answer to all of these questions should be a resounding ‘YES!’ But in reality, most people would be lucky to be able to say ‘YES’ to even one.
Most people are not consciously aware of where their time goes, and I am sure you’ll remember a day not so long ago when the day flew past, you had no idea where it went, and yet it felt like you had achieved very little in return.
Then, when we do have awareness of what we spend our time doing, 95% of the world spends most of its time doing work they are good at, and yet have no love or passion in doing it. It’s for this reason that when it comes to helping teams implement EOS®, Delegate and Elevate ® is a very valuable tool to be introduced.
BEING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE 80/20 RULE
During initial conversations with entrepreneurs, we’ll often hear them express feelings of overwhelm, stress, and frustration. I can recall some of my clients telling me they are ‘buried in their work’, ‘bogged down’, ‘everything is on their shoulders’, ‘they’ve too much to do and not enough time in the day‘ and many other metaphors and analogies that paint a vivid picture of a world we want to change.
When we get to the bottom of it, on average they spend (at best) about only 20% of their time doing work that motivates them, work they are skilled in, their BEST work, and work that they would choose to do if they were given the option.
The other 80% of their time goes to work that they don’t enjoy, aren’t good at, are most likely to make mistakes on and procrastinate over, and work that they wish would disappear from their plate forever.
Working this way means that the little time that they do get to spend being passionate and motivated about their work ends up getting lost and all too easily forgotten in the sheer volume of stuff that they spend most of their time doing that they don’t like and aren’t even good at doing.
EVERYTHING WE DO IS ABOUT FLIPPING THAT 80/20 RATIO
What if you could spend the majority of your time doing work you loved and are great at – and just a little of your time doing work that you didn’t like or weren’t that skilled in? What impact would that have on your days, your weeks, your months, or even your years?
So the key question to ask first is: “Where is all of your time going?”
One of the first exercises we ask business leaders to complete, is to ask them to analyze where their time and energy is going as they complete a cycle of their work. Be that over a week, a month, or even a quarter, we want to know exactly where they are spending their time, effort, and energy – and more importantly, on what?
We coach them to take a piece of paper and simply divide it into four quadrants and title them as such:
- Quadrant 1 (Top Left): Work you LOVE and are GREAT at
- Quadrant 2 (Top Right): Work you LIKE and are GOOD at.
- Quadrant 3 (Bottom Left): Work you DON’T LIKE, yet are GOOD at (95% of the world)
- Quadrant 4 (Bottom Right): Work you DON’T LIKE and are NOT GOOD at
And as they complete or reflect on their work, they add the tasks, activities, and jobs that got done, into one of the four quadrants.
More often than not, after filling out this tool for a few days, weeks, or even months, our leaders can start to clearly see and understand where there are opportunities to be had for greatly improving and impacting their work and the satisfaction they are getting from doing it.
The purpose of this tool is to help people have transparency to understand where their time and energy is going and gives them the ability to see what exactly is holding them back. Seeing it written down in black and white has quite the impact – it’s such a simple task to complete. But once committed to paper, putting a solution in place to change your way of working becomes more realistic and much more achievable.
With the exercise complete, we then set to putting in place a plan with some key moves and dated commitments that take them away from spending their time in the bottom two quadrants. Over time, we are able to elevate them to a place where they end up spending the majority of their time working in the top two quadrants, doing work they love and are great at.
While the completion of this exercise won’t give you the answers, it does give you the ability to ask some really powerful questions based upon your recordings.
A common misconception when we look to delegate tasks away from people is that they think by delegating, we mean that equates to giving this task to another human being inside the organization. This may be a great way of doing so, and yet certainly doesn’t have to be the only way you can get things off your plate so you don’t have to do them yourself.
CREATING A PLAN FOR DELEGATION
When I am working with my teams on this tool, I get them to run through a framework of delegation so we can look to find the best way of helping elevate them for the greater good of themselves and the rest of the organization.
When we are looking at creating a plan for something to be delegated away from one of our leaders, we ask these questions – in this order:
1. Can this task/activity be ELIMINATED?
What would happen if we simply stopped doing the task in hand?
What would be the impact and what would happen as a result of just eliminating this thing from our work?
- Take for example, that big ‘End of Day’ report that you spend 30 minutes pulling together and then emailing out to Sales, Ops, and Finance, cc’ing the world. What would happen if you just stopped doing it, buying yourself back 45 precious minutes to put to better, more effective, higher-value use in your work?
If after asking that question, we find the answer is; “No, it cannot be eliminated” then we move on to the next.
2. Then can this task be SIMPLIFIED?
If we cannot eliminate it, how can we simplify it?
How can we retain all of the value, with much less effort or investment of time?
- Going back to our ‘End of Day’ report, what would happen if it became a weekly report? Could we make it a once a week, instead of a once a day tool? What would be the result of that? Or what if we halved the data we had to capture or what if we pulled the report and then saved it to a place where everyone who needs it can go to themselves to get it and save emailing it back and forth?
If after asking that question, we find the answer is; “No, it cannot be simplified” then we move on to the next.
3. Then can this task be AUTOMATED?
If we cannot simplify the task, how can we automate it?
Can we use technology, software, or automation to do this so we don’t have to touch it and buy ourselves back precious time?
- Can we find a platform to get the data for our ‘End of Day’ report automatically curated and populated into a template that automatically emails out to the team? Yes, maybe automation like this would take hours and hours to set up initially – yet think of the future time savings when it all happens automatically and it just arrives in everyone’s inbox!
If after asking that question, we find the answer is “No, it cannot be automated” then we move on to the next.
4. Then can this task be DELEGATED?
If after trying to eliminate, simplify, and automate this task – maybe it’s time to look at finding someone in the business to get it done on your behalf. Working along the principle of; ‘if you are a $50 per hour person, don’t be doing $5 per hour work’ look for help from a member of your team to delegate this task to so you can be freed up for higher purpose/revenue-generating/key activity focused work.
- Maybe we can get our ‘End of Day’ report pulled together by an apprentice or junior member of the team, who may not be able to interpret the data or understand the numbers, yet they certainly know their way around Excel better than us and would be able to get it done in half the time and fly the emails off left, right, and center – freeing you up to focus on your most important work.
If after asking that question, we find the answer is; “No, it cannot be delegated” then we move on to the next.
5. Then can this task be OUTSOURCED?
As a last resort, we look to the outside for help from freelancers, contractors, or third-party people, anyone who we can pay to get this work done on our behalf so we don’t have to. Most will be cautious here as they focus only on the cost – and yet the investment in doing so, will create much more value in turn with the time it returns to you. Even for an outlay initially, you have a better result in the end.
- Let’s say that we outsource our ‘End of Day’ report to a freelancer whose ‘bag’ is data capture and reporting. They do this work all day long, and know how to get the best results in a short amount of time. They come in and find a solution that works, they systematize the whole process and it just works – without you having to touch it. It may even be that with their specialism, they have also simplified the process in doing so and automated it for you to boot! All that time when you were doing it, you just wouldn’t have known where to begin.
And IF after asking all those questions, we find the answer is:
“No, it cannot be eliminated, it cannot be simplified, it cannot be automated, it cannot be delegated, it cannot be outsourced…”
Then maybe — just maybe — you need to make this part of your 20% and we have to live with it for now.
Once business leaders begin delegating away tasks that they ‘don’t enjoy’ and ‘are not particularly good at’, it frees them up to focus on the ‘work they love’ and the ‘work they excel at’. The combination of delegating tasks to staff members who likely will be better suited to those tasks with focusing on areas previously neglected, this elevates the people, the team, the business as a whole – likely improving the morale of everyone too.
What a nice place it is to be — where MOST of the people spend MOST of their time doing work they LOVE and are GREAT at. I’d say it was utopia, and yet I’ve seen it happen too many times to be a coincidence.
Imagine that world for you and your business…
What would it take for you to start?
Previously published on the Grow Or Die blog