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Why have a dog and bark yourself?

Most people’s days are full of things that other people could do just as well instead at a much lower cost. We take care of them because they are easy to do and we don’t have time to take a step back and delegate them. It is well worth the time it takes to eliminate them from your day….after all, why would you have a dog and bark yourself?

One of the reasons why people fail to eliminate superfluous activities from their day is because it takes longer to delegate the task to somebody else than it does to do it yourself. If you wait until the task needs doing then it will never get delegated because it is always urgent at the time when you identify that you shouldn’t be doing it.

The best way to overcome this damaging syndrome is to plan ahead to eliminate tasks from your day when they don’t actually need to be done. You need to go through an exercise to identify your value per hour and then construct your time management index. This will identify the tasks that you want to eliminate and the planning process becomes quite simple.

What you need to do is to identify in writing up to three items a month that you are going to pass off to somebody else, identify how that is going to happen and set a date by which it must be accomplished. Once this is done with formality then identifying how to get these activities out of your day becomes virtually a routine task.

A good example of this is one of my clients who had a program on his computer to generate business cards and only somebody with access to his machine could use it. Whenever business cards were needed it always seemed to be urgent and as a result he ended up producing them himself rather than passing the task off to them.

We identified this at one of our regular meetings and he undertook that, by a specific date that he identified, he would remove the program from his computer, load it somewhere else and make somebody else responsible for it. My role in this was simply to be his accountability foil and to make sure that he followed through.

It may sound trivial, but if you look at your day critically you will find that it is filled with those kind of things and you need to eliminate them in a way that is both structured and planned…otherwise you’ll just continue to do them yourself for eternity. To take the first step in eliminating them from your day, read my article Eliminating Time Bandits to start to identify all the areas where you could have a dog do your barking for you.


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Time Management Tips

  • When somebody interrupts you when you are busy, don't let them interrupt your train of thought. Ask them to come back and see you at a specific time – you may be surprised that they actually figure out the answer and don't come back to ask you.

  • Everybody has about three hours during the day when they are at their best. Figure out what your "Prime Time" is and then plan your day around it. Make sure that you dedicate that time to focus without interruptions on the activities that are of most value to you.

  • It is all too easy to waste time on phone calls. Keep an egg timer next to the phone to keep track of exactly how long you are talking. It will keep the time you are spending in the forefront of your mind and will help you handle the call more efficiently.

  • Never go to the bank to deposit checks, it is a Time Bandit way below your pay grade, and claiming it is therapeutic and gets you out of the office is deluding yourself. Send somebody else!  Better still, get a check scanning machine...and make sure the bank pays!

  • Organize your office so the door isn't in your immediate line of vision. The big payoff is that people can't appear at your door, hover, catch your eye and distract you. If you make it harder to interrupt you, people may figure out answers themselves rather than asking you.

  • When you have to give out an e-mail address to somebody who's going to send you things you don't want in your inbox, give them a special "junk" e-mail address. Then set up a rule so that everything to that address goes to a folder you review on your timetable.

  • When somebody interrupts you to ask you a question always reply with a question back. Ask them how they would deal with it, and make them think proactively rather than just relying on you. A good technique is to ask: "If I wasn't available today, what would you do?"

  • If your key customers expect you to answer the phone at all times, get an Internet phone line and give them a "VIP" phone number to call. Set it up with a unique ring on your system and you'll know that calls on that line are from your most important customers.

  • Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere. 

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone now as the most dangerously effective of all Time Bandits. Turn off your e mail alert and check your e-mail only four times a it on your schedule not the schedule of the people who are interrupting your more productive work.

  • E-mails have overtaken the phone as the most dangerously effective of all time wasters. The worst thing is the e mail alert that pops up on your computer screen. Don't let other people interrupt you in this way and take back control of your time by turning the alert off

  • When somebody interrupts you while sitting at your desk, stand up. It changes the pace of the interaction and sends a message to the interrupter that they have invaded your time. The more you can send this message, the more effective you will become at protecting your time.

  • When somebody comes to you with an issue they should figure out themselves, don't allow yourself to relieve them of the burden and take it on yourself. Instead of saying "leave it with me" when this happens, say "never delegate upwards" and ask them for their solution.

  • Entrepreneurs wear so many of the hats in their business that many of the tasks they carry out are at a level way below the real value of their time. Are you working below your pay grade by not handing off menial tasks that should be done by others?

  • When you are hiring new employees, ask candidates about their time management abilities. The best employees are those that can prioritize their work and handle interruptions, so be sure to ask relevant questions to probe in those areas so that you hire somebody who has those skills.

  • Email has become a huge time-waster and taking control of your Inbox is becoming more critical than ever. The ideal state is only to have things in your Inbox that are important, urgent or time sensitive, and to put everything else automatically into folders using Rules governing what happens when they come in. I’ve been using Outlook Rules for a number of years to sort specific topics, but I recently came across a new rule that makes a dramatic difference.

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Did you know ?

Most people have a “To Do” list to record the tasks they need to "Get Done", but it doesn't help identify what you shouldn't do yourself. For that you need a “To Don’t” list. Identify the culprits, put them on the list and defend your time by assigning them elsewhere.