We’re busy. It’s either a corollary to Parkinson’s Law or nature simply abhorring blank space on a calendar. The days are just packed.
We’re driven to do more, to be more, to achieve. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It only becomes a problem when we start doing things for the sake of doing things. We do things because we’ve always done them. We do them the way we’ve always done them because we don’t have time to find a better way. It never even crosses our minds that we might not be the best person to even be doing it.
We become more focused on the process than on the results we’re trying to achieve. We become more and more busy with less and less to show for it.
Fortunately, it’s possible to dig ourselves out of here. There are three simple steps you can take that will help you align your schedule with your priorities.
- Eliminate the nonessential. Much of what you do is simply momentum. You’ve always done it. Maybe it made sense at one time, but it’s no longer essential to the results you want to have. You’re looking for two things here: things you can stop doing and no one will notice, and places you can drop a dime and pick up a dollar.
- Automate the routine. If it needs doing, make it as easy as possible to do. If you can make it fully automatic, so you never need to think about it again, great! Even if you can’t, there are ways you can make it easier. Use apps like TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro to automate typing. Let Sanebox sort your incoming email into piles for now and later. Even a simple checklist can help you automate a routine so you don’t have to think about it so much.
- Delegate everything you can. Some things need to be done and they need a human touch. That doesn’t mean you’re the best person to do it. Someone else may have more time, skills, or resources to do it—or more interest in doing it! You don’t need a staff to delegate; delegation is simply getting a task to the best person to do it.
The sequence here is important: eliminate, automate, delegate. First, eliminate anything that doesn’t need done—by anyone. If you automate something that should be eliminated, you’re wasting your time. If you delegate something that should be automated or eliminated, you’re wasting your time and theirs.
Elimination is usually the quickest to implement—just stop doing it! There may be some advance notice you need to give, or a sunsetting process. This is also the most effective choice if you can do it.
Automation and delegation take more time to set up. You have to determine the process, document it, and then possibly bring someone else up to speed on it. This takes time, and it can seem impossible when you’re already struggling to find enough time for everything you want to do, but it pays off in the end.
Change takes effort. You can do it. Focus on the essentials, make everything as easy to do as possible, and make sure the right tasks are on the right people. You may not see the results right away, but the benefits will come. You’ll have more time to spend on the most important things in your life.