Time is your most precious asset, but do you know how to leverage it to work smarter? As a business owner, you have dozens of decisions to make every day that can waste your time - or maximize it.
In our recent webinar, 5 Ways to Crush Your Time Wasters, we asked Debra Defer, Managing Director of Business Services and Outsourcing at BDO USA, LLP, to help us sort out where you should spend your time to be most efficient. Debra has been selected to the Intuit Influencers, Top Business Process Outsourcing ProAdvisor of 2015 by Insightful Accountant, and Top 100 ProAdvisor for six consecutive years. In short, she knows how to maximize her time.
Decide how you'll spend your time
There are numerous books on time management, but one of the earliest systems was the Franklin Planner. While we've migrated from paper to apps, Debra believes that the philosophy is still useful in today's world: do it, delete it, or delegate it.
If you're wasting time in your inbox or hanging on to information “just in case,” it's time to do it or delete it. Simplifying your work routines and sticking to them can improve your billable hours and reduce administrative costs.
The third rule – delegate it - won't just make you more efficient. It will make you less prone to burn out and help you take advantage of overlooked resources.
What should you delegate?
The trap that most business owners fall into is the belief that they can do anything but forget that they can't do everything. The first rule of delegating is to prioritize your time by doing the tasks that only you can do. Find out where your expertise is and focus on those tasks.
Next, identify non-essential tasks that you can delegate to someone else. If you're still ordering office supplies, doing bookkeeping, or running errands, it's time to delegate. Identify what tasks you need to delegate and then you choose who will do them.
Who's qualified to do non-essential tasks? First, look in your own office. Is there an untapped resource that could take over these tasks? If you're in a growing firm, everyone's plates are constantly in flux, so find out who has extra room to work on tasks that you can't finish or shouldn't be doing.
Finally, if no one is available inside your office, it might be time for additional hires. Whether it's a freelancer, intern, or new full-time employee, look for the right personal strengths to get the job done.
Decide what's in your wheelhouse – and what's not
If you've gotten used to multitasking, you're probably doing tasks you don't need to do. You might be the Jack or Jill of all trades, but you'll be wasting your time.
Typical tasks that may not be your expertise include bookkeeping, taxes, HR, or administrative work. If so, then it's time to find a specialist to be responsible for these tasks.
Sometimes people fall into the trap of doing everything because “it takes too long to train others.” If you're continuing to do something that you don't need to do, it's time to spend the time and train someone else to do it.
Delegating isn't just restricted to routine tasks. Debra provided an example of client management, where she is a great personality fit for dental offices and entrepreneurs, but a peer better serves government or technology clients. Not every client will be a good fit for you, so you may have to delegate client-facing work to a peer who is a better fit.
Preparing for the delegation conversation
Few people like surprises, so springing a new task on an unsuspecting employee or coworker isn't the best approach. Also, be emotionally prepared to admit that you can't do everything and that you are reaching out for help.
Debra suggested four points to help the delegation conversation go well:
- Provide how-to documentation.
- Establish monitoring procedures.
- Confirm understanding.
- Check-in, but avoid micromanaging.
Using this approach will ensure that expectations are set, a knowledge transfer occurs, and the delegation process will go smoothly.
Don't forget that people want to be acknowledged for doing a good job. Make sure you provide positive feedback, show appreciation, and reward their work. It will not only offload a task but build great relationships.
For more time-wasting busters
Delegation is only the beginning of the five ways you can leverage your time. Tune in to our webinar, 5 Ways to Crush Your Time Wasters, for more ways to be more productive, focused, and ready for growth. Please share with us how you've delegated tasks and how it impacted your business, for good or bad! Just leave us a comment below.
About Deborah Defer
Deborah has more than 30 years of accounting experience; both in industry and accounting firms. As Managing Director for BDO USA, LLP's Business Services & Outsourcing, her team is focused on consulting and training of clients regarding their accounting system analysis, recommendations, and implementation. She also serves as the firm's Technology Leader for all solutions utilizing the QuickBooks Online platform. Deborah has been selected to the Intuit Influencers, Top Business Process Outsourcing ProAdvisor of 2015 by Insightful Accountant, and Top 100 ProAdvisor for six consecutive years.
Deborah is also very active on social media. You can connect with Deborah Defer on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @DeborahDefer (Dr. QuickBooks).