So. When you’re ‘working’, what do you actually do?

Let’s face it, ‘working’ means different things to different people. But if you’re running your own business, then ‘look busy, the boss is coming’ will certainly not apply.

Even so, there may be things you’re doing – even necessary things – that aren’t making the best use of your time. So your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to decide which is which.

And in this case you might want to involve your Secretary (if you have one) very closely, so they can’t disavow all knowledge of your actions later on.

Do, Delegate or Dump?

When it comes to deciding what you should (or should not) be doing there’s a simple but effective litmus test you can use.

  • Do the things that only you can do.
  • Delegate the things that someone else can do as well as (or better than) you.
  • And Dump the things that really don’t need doing at all.

The first and last seem pretty obvious. It’s the delegation that usually causes a problem. Especially if you don’t actually have a person to whom you can delegate things.

Now it is, of course, just possible that your life partner absolutely loves – and is good at – all the jobs you hate. You also have a perfect relationship where he or she has enough time on their hands to dive in and help when SS Your Business seems to be heading for the rocks.

But back in the real world it’s more likely that your better half (even assuming you have one) will have other things to do. Usually at precisely the time you need their help. And – again in the real world – their idea of heaven will not necessarily include filing the Tower of Babel that used to be your paperwork. Or, for that matter, chasing six-month-old invoices you’ve inconveniently forgotten about.

Worse yet, even if they do these things – perhaps out of loyalty to you – they may not be very good at doing them…

However, there is an answer. You can outsource the problem to a specialist. Because – believe it or not – there really are people out there who enjoy those things. (And enjoy them even more if they can prevent them happening in the first place…)

But you can’t just throw them a bag full of paper. (Well – you can, but you might get it thrown right back.) You have to do your outsourcing properly…

Outsourcing ‘properly’…

So what does that actually mean?

Well, put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment. If you were taking on that kind of work for someone else, there are a few questions you might want to ask them:

  • What are you delegating – what’s included, and what isn’t?
  • Why are you delegating this work? Is it to free up your time? To reduce costs? Or some other reason? (There could be many more.)
  • To whom are you delegating? If it’s ‘someone you know’ have you checked their qualifications and their CV?  As carefully as you’d check those of a future employee…?
  • When do you want the work completed?

Successful outsourcing depends on asking – and answering – those questions, and ensuring that the person doing the work understands precisely what you are asking them to do.