My friend Randy has a lot on his plate. At work, he’s responsible for the performance and the care of a team and his career is on the rise. At home, he works to be a good husband and a good father to two rambunctious little boys. There are also many things that Randy wants to do.
Last week, he confessed that he really wasn’t exercising the way he wanted to. A couple of weeks earlier, we talked about carving out a half an hour a day so he could do some reading. That’s just the tip of Randy’s iceberg. There’s a lot more “want tos” below the surface.
Randy’s like a lot of people, maybe like you. He’s got a lot of things to do and a lot more that he wants to do. The only way he’ll get to those things that he thinks are important is to get rid of some of the things he’s doing now. If you’re like Randy, here are four things you can let go of to make some space in your life for some of the things you want to do.
Let Go of Thoughtless Busywork
Most of us spend way too much time being busy with things that don’t have any positive result. We may feel like we’re being productive, but deep down, we know we’re not. Think about the time you spend surfing the web or on social media. You could probably devote some of that time to other, more productive, tasks. It won’t be easy. It will take discipline. And you won’t get good at it all at once, but it’s worth starting the process.
Randy was amazed when he figured out how much he was spending “noodling around on Facebook,” as he put it. He cut that time down and used most of what he’d clawed back to do things with his family.
Let Go of Things That Aren’t Important Anymore
Times change. Things that you used to do routinely may not be important today. Look at all your routine tasks and figure out which ones you can let go of because their importance has passed. Ask, “What will happen if I just quit doing this?” If the answer isn’t clear, experiment. Stop doing it and see what happens.
If you can’t to cut things out altogether, just cut down a bit. Things that you used to have to do twice a day might be just fine if you did them once. Things that you did every day might be just as effective done once a week.
Let Go of Things That Other People Can Do Well Enough
Many of us, especially at work, do things that we do well but that other people could do acceptably well. That’s often a great opportunity for things that you can take off your plate. If it’s not among your most important work, probably someone else can do it well enough.
Let Go of Unnecessary Supervision
Randy’s got several people on his team, and most of them can do their work without him looking over their shoulder. They’ve got the ability to do the job, the resources they need, and they pitch in willingly to get the work done. It’s a waste of Randy’s time to supervise them. If you’ve got people with the ability, resources, and willingness to do the work, stop supervising them and get out of their way. When you unleash them, you get more time for your important work.
Randy’s got a couple of other team members who aren’t quite up to speed on the work they’re supposed to do. It’s a good use of his time to train them up so that he can unleash them and use that training time for something else.
There are a few team members that don’t have the resources they need to do their work well. Resources include money, time, other people’s help, and access to information. It’s a good use of Randy’s time to get them the resources they need so that he can unleash them and use that time for something else.
Randy also has one team member who just can’t seem to get the work done well and on time. That’s a coaching challenge. Randy should be spending time coaching that person to find out if they’re able to do the job at all. If they are, he can unleash them, and if they’re not he can help them find a place where they can be productive. Either way, he gets some of his time back.
Great bosses monitor how they use their time because the know that choices about using time are key to doing a better job and leading a better life.
You’ll find more than a dozen tips about using time effectively in my ebook, Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.
Peter Drucker’s classic, The Effective Executive has an excellent chapter titled “Know Your Time” that I go back to several times a year.