How To Sort Through Your Priorities

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting and Design Success University
I was speaking with clients of mine yesterday, and we talked about an exercise that I think is important to do at least once a year, but preferably, you should be doing this every quarter.

1. Review your job description (You don’t have one? Then start with creating a job description.) and determine how much time you spend on the tasks on your list

  • For example – Marketing – 5 hours per week x 50 weeks per year = 250 hours.
  • Add up all of the hours for all tasks you do to see if this comes close to how many hours you work per year.
  • Most owners work 50+ hours per week and are lucky to bill 50% of their time.
  • If you work 50 weeks a year x 50 hours, that’s 2,500 hours.

2. Sort your tasks that you do according to the following criteria:

  • Do you like to do it? Yes – continue doing it.
  • Do you want to do it? Yes, do it.
  • Is it your gift or strength? Yes, do it.
  • Does it makes money for your business? Yes, do it.
  • Can only you do this for your firm (be honest – other people can be trained to do most tasks)? Then do it.
  • Do you have to learn how to do it? If it is a task that can be outsourced, like CAD, to someone that has a natural talent for it, then don’t learn it – your time is too valuable.
  • Don’t like to do it ? Don’t do it
  • Don’t want to do it? Don’t do it.
  • Do you procrastinate about doing something? You probably shouldn’t be doing it.
  • Do you have a “gut feeling” that you don’t enjoy something, then decide what the “feeling” means, and then make a decision about who should do it.
  • Highlight the tasks on your job description that you need to offload and decide when the work needs to be reassigned and to whom, and what you need to do to effectively accomplish the hand-off.
  • Make the decision to decide. As soon as the decision is made, discuss the decision with your team members and begin the process of offloading. Don’t wait!

3. Decide who within your firm has the skill sets to do the task better or faster, or has the natural talent to learn it. This requires that you have job descriptions and tasks for your entire company. Try not to give people multiple types of tasks. For example, if someone is strong in accounting, then don’t ask them to do marketing. It will lead to the job not being done well or not getting done at all.

4. If you don’t have the resources from within your firm, consider outsourcing. It is often cheaper to hire a specialist than to hire an intern that you have to train from scratch. Especially if the person is a contractor, you may be able to bill out most of the time that your contractor works, so it is not “overhead” for your firm.

5. Select your three biggest priorities that will “move the needle” the most in your business – that usually involves “rainmaking,” client work and project management. Also, when you invest in training time for your employees and assigning new responsibilities, before long, you’ll only be doing things you enjoy.

6. Focus on one priority at a time until done.

7. Focus on delegating, training or outsourcing all of the tasks that don’t make it to the “yes” column. Make it a point to schedule time for the hand-off during the next quarter.

8. Be aware that your team’s tasks may need to be rebalanced to allow you to hand off the work. Talk with each person about the same criteria above. Have them evaluate their job description so you ensure that they are doing what they are best at doing.

9. Make a list of the following:

  • Start doing
  • Stop doing
  • Keep doing
  • Do more of
  • Do less of

10. Add the following dates to your calendar to do this task balancing exercise – if you have a large team, this exercise could take a few days, but it is very useful for planning your work load:

  • July 1
  • October 1
  • January – first day back in the office
  • April 1

Let me know how you do with this exercise – it is always enlightening and liberating. Don’t procrastinate – add this to your calendar right now and be sure to comment in our LinkedIn group about it.

Gail Doby

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