Michael Kitces shares his number one tip for getting ‘unstuck’ in the New Year. Create a ‘Stop Doing’ list, to help you prioritise and focus your efforts to manage your time.
Time management is crucial, as we’re all limited by the same 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. The challenge, however, is that even knowing time management is important, sometimes you don’t even realise there’s a problem until it’s too late. Like the analogy of the boiled frog, that just sits in a pot of cool water that heats gradually until it boils itself to death, never realising the growing threat. The slow and steady accumulation of clients and work can mean that we overburden ourselves too slowly to realise we need to do something about it, until by the end we’re buried and it feels like there isn’t even enough time to fix the problem.
As contrasted with a ‘To-Do’ list of things that must be done, a ‘Stop-Doing’ list tells us things we should not be getting done. Or at least, not be personally doing anymore. In other words, it’s about making a commitment to creating free time by literally not doing as much as you have in the past.
How do you figure out what goes onto a ‘Stop-Doing’ list? The easiest way it to simply list out all of the tasks you do routinely and repeatedly… and then figure out how to stop doing them and instead delegate them to someone else.
Unfortunately, delegation itself is hard. But an easy way to delegate repetitive tasks in particular is through the use of screen casting software. If you’re not familiar, screencasting software lets you capture what’s happening on your computer screen, as well as any audio from your microphone. Screencast-omatic and Snagit are two such examples of screencasting software. You simply need to identify a task you complete repeatedly, record yourself doing it while talking through each of the steps, narrate out loud what you’re doing and then give someone else the video to use as a guide!
Congratulations! You’ve just now delegated a task and trained someone how to do it, and it only took you the time it takes you to just do it yourself! It’s a way to train how to do a delegated task, in no more time than it takes to just do it anyway (and you’ll never have to do it again!).
For the tasks that are less repetitive and require more expertise, you can look to hire outside professionals to free up more of your time. Because the reality is that you can’t be the best at everything in a business. Focus on the most important revenue-generating responsibilities, and let go of the rest. Fortunately, a whole range of service providers are cropping up that allow us to outsource certain business activities.
As Warren Buffett says, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.” Because the truth is that there’s a never-ending list of things that you can be doing.
So it’s not a question whether you can do a task. Moving forward, it’s all about finding the highest and best use of your time, focusing on that, and letting go of the rest.
The bottom line is that good time management is about saying ‘No’. Whether that means saying ‘No’ to repetitive tasks you can delegate, or ‘No’ to less valueadding responsibilities you can outsource or just let go of altogether.
As we get going into the New Year, and you take some time to engage in strategic planning, my suggestion is that if you’re feeling like you’ve hit that wall and you really
want to break through, what you need to do right now is not figure out the next great idea that grows your business – but instead to sit down and make your ‘Stop doing’ list.
You need to figure out what you’re going to get off your plate so that you can free up the time to actually take your business forward.
Creating a ‘Stop-Doing’ list for 2017 may be one of the most effective ways to gain control over your schedule!
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