See what can be automated, and automate it

It never ceases to amaze me when I see intelligent individuals doing the same thing over and over, while at the same time complaining that they never have any time.

It can take a little time up front to figure out the steps to a process, but once those steautomateps are clearly laid out and the process is clearly defined, much of the time you are spending can be erased.

Some examples of what can be automated include:

  • scheduling (using an online scheduling program),
  • order fulfillment,
  • follow up notes or calls,
  • newsletter layout and preparation,
  • some email communication, and many other tasks.

The key is to examine the process, see if it can be simply laid out, and then turn it over (either by delegating or by using technology) to someone/something else to be done.

© Terry Monaghan, 2013 ~ All Rights Reserved

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Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at www.TimeTriage.com.

Delegating (or, I need more clients!)

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “I know I need to delegate some of this stuff, but I can’t afford to do it right now. I need more clients first.” – I would be a very rich woman.

Look, I get it. Cash flow is tight. Every cent is going back into the business. Credit is so tight you are even putting in your own money to keep going from time to time. Taking on an extra expense makes no sense.

But let’s really look at it. You are working your heart out in your business. You spend your days networking, working with clients, developing relationships, getting your job done.

And you are spending your nights and weekends doing your bookkeeping, keeping your papers filed, sending out invoices, typing cards into the database, creating your newsletter, sending thank you notes, making phone calls, and on and on and on.

And if you are not spending your nights and weekends that way, you are worrying about all that stuff needing to get done, and feeling guilty and overwhelmed, and thinking you are a hopeless case because you are so far behind on that.

If you remember to have lunch it is only because you scheduled a lunch meeting. You have given up on having a full night’s sleep. And you can barely remember what a day off feels like – it has been so long.

And you are convinced everyone else is doing it better.

You are already working at or over capacity. And yet, you think that “if only I could get some more clients – then I would be able to get some help.”

When, exactly, are you going to work with those new clients? You have no time!

You think you need to increase your capacity for serving your clients before you increase your structures. But, you have no additional capacity. And you will have no additional capacity until you revise your structures!

One hour of work by a good virtual assistant, or bookkeeper, or intern will usually give you back 5 hours of your own time. (Both the time it takes to get the task done and done well, plus the time you spend worrying about it.)

I remember when I hired my first part time assistant. I was really worried about being able to afford her. I initially committed to 10 hours per month of her time, and I put that amount of money aside. My deal with myself was if I didn’t generate at least enough work to cover her time, I would not continue.

I don’t know about you, but paying someone $25, $50, even $100 an hour (for an expert) in order to have 5 to 10 more hours in my day or week is well worth the effort. Every single time I have expanded my underlying structures my business has increased exponentially!

Right now, for every dollar I pay a virtual assistant or other team member, I am making back about 20 times that in increased business. So now, when I really want to increase my capacity for new business I look at what else can I delegate?

Works every single time.

(c) Terry Monaghan 2010

What do you think you can’t do?

At a workshop last week, a participant challenged something I said with “Yes, but, with budget cuts the work still has to get done! How on earth am I supposed to get it all done?” And, there was a lot of agreement in the room for what he was saying. (Full disclosure – this was at one of my favorite parts of the exercise – where I expect people to begin challenging my assertions!)

He was challenging an assertion I had made that he (and everyone else in the room) had total control over where he put his time and effort. And, that the best place to put that time and effort was into the fulfillment of his goals (whatever they may be).

Yes, but – this paperwork has to be done. Yes, but – this other thing has to be done. Yes, but – how am I supposed to get all of this done? Yes, but – I have a family, another job, a mother-in-law, groceries to buy, a house to clean, bills to pay, filing to do, calls to make, appointments to keep…

You get the picture?

Then, another person said “maybe we need to start spelling TIME as TEAM!”

Brilliant! Exactly!

Why on earth would you want to do it all yourself?

And don’t tell me you can’t afford to build a team! There are resources you can’t even see when you are thinking that way.

Start asking yourself “How can I …?” and see what happens…

Do you really have to do it yourself?

OK, I can’t tell how many times I hear an entrepreneur tell me that they can’t possibly delegate some task because “I just don’t have the time to show someone what needs to be done.”

Yes, sometimes delegating a task means taking a little time to tell or show someone what you want done. But you usually only have to tell or show someone what to do ONCE, versus doing the task yourself over and over and over. Which do you think takes more time, ultimately?

“I can do it faster/better myself.” Maybe that is true, but is it really the BEST use of your time? There are many tasks I have delegated, even when I knew I could do it faster or better myself. Ultimately, it came down to getting it done. And I found that if I told someone what I wanted done (rather than how to do it), they will get it done, and surprise me in the process. People are far more creative and capable than we sometimes give them credit for.

The upshot is – do you want the task done? Or do you want it done your way? What do you think you could get done if someone else was taking care of all of those other tasks that need to get done?