Get More Sh*t Done
“Each day just goes so fast. I turn around it’s past.” George Harrison
There have been many articles written on time management, but who has time to read them? Seriously, in the time it will take you to read this short article, you could have responded to a dozen emails, while wolfing down your lunch, and still, maybe, have time to go to the bathroom.
But is that the best use of your time? Will it give you greater capacity to do more? Will it allow you time to think and plan? If your answer is yes, stop reading now and dig into that PB&J sandwich. If the answer is no, however, read on.
Note, we’re not going to state the obvious: make lists, prioritize, focus. Hopefully, you already know these things. What we are going to share with you are three lesser known, but key concepts, that we have employed which have allowed us to get more sh*t done than most.
One: Delegate Effectively, not Efficiently
Two: Be Careful About the Monkeys
Three: Hire Up
One: Delegate Effectively, Not Efficiently
Not all delegation is the same. Many people delegate efficiently but not effectively, and the results are wildly different.
Efficient delegation is basically “please do this.” It’s checking a box; one less thing you need to do. It’s quick, easy, and makes you feel like, “great, I delegated something.” But it really does very little to help you, or your team, learn and grow. In fact, it can lead to results that are the opposite to what’s desired when delegating. It can create a greater likelihood of mistakes (since there is no true supervision) and can make the person you delegated to feel under-valued, frustrated and stuck in a dead-end job. Better not to delegate at all.
Effective delegation occurs when you give someone a significant task that will likely take time for you to explain and time for you to supervise. “What!? Who has the time to do that? It’ll be much quicker if I do it myself!” Chill out. That may be true this time, but what about next time, and the time after that? If you take the time now, it will create much more time for you later, allowing you to take on more interesting work responsibilities. Plus, the people you delegate to will learn and grow in their jobs, increasing their confidence and creating greater loyalty through higher job satisfaction.
Effective delegation allows for someone to do work that they have never done before, but with the proper guidance and mentoring that ensures the work is done right. And, in turn, it allows you to do work you have never done before, as well as practice the critical skills of managing and coaching.
Two: Be Careful About Monkeys
This suggestion is a reference to one of the most widely read Harvard Business Review articles of all time written by William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass entitled: “Management Time: Who’s Got The Monkey?” (Reprinted Nov-Dec, 1999). We’ve read this article numerous times and we strongly encourage you to read the actual article for good advice about delegation, but in the interest of time management, our focus here is on one of their most memorable points:
The monkey in the title is a task, a to-do, an action item. In every meeting, in fact, in every conversation, a monkey can appear and then leap onto an unsuspecting shoulder. For example, you’re walking down the hall at work and someone says to you, “Hey, could you send me your presentation from today’s meeting?” Watch out: a monkey was just created (the sending of the document). You could say, “sure,” and the monkey is now squarely on your shoulder; something to add to your list (that’s growing by the minute). Or you could say, “could you send me an email to remind me?” and the monkey is now on their shoulder. Of course, you will still need to respond to the email, but it will never get onto your to-do list (and if you have an assistant, it will never even be your monkey).
The fact is that monkey creation is happening all the time in your work interactions. The article makes the point that the management of monkeys is akin to the management of your job. If you don’t manage the monkeys, you are constantly working on someone else’s agenda. That someone else may be your boss, but it could also be someone working for you. Your ability to manage the monkeys and ensure you’re only doing those things that are critical that you do, will allow you to be in control of your time and your priorities.
Three: Hire Up
Early in BBS’s career, he was an event producer at a small agency, and he was asked to produce two complex events within a week of each other. When he voiced his concern, his boss said, “figure it out," (he was already over-whelmed by to-dos). So, BBS hired two freelance executive producers who had much greater experience to produce the events. This was a risky strategy as it cost the company more money than hiring junior people. BBS had no idea if these senior people would accept his supervision, and there was a chance it would show his boss that he wasn't experienced enough for his job.
What resulted was a win/win/win:
1) The freelancers were supervised by someone with insider knowledge, but who listened carefully due to their greater experience (and so wasn’t your typical client);
2) BBS learned a tremendous amount about producing events (from an outside perspective) as well as how to supervise senior level people, and;
3) The events were fabulous.
BBS was promoted to executive producer very shortly thereafter.
This is a perfect example of hiring up, which is: hiring someone who can do critical work that you don’t have time to do and who brings valuable outside experience and broad knowledge into your project or agency. There's nothing more advantageous to time management than getting others to do work better than you could have done, while allowing you to learn from them. You save time and you get smarter. Awesome.
This is what a good consultant can do for you. Of course, there are lots of consultants who will simply tell you what you should do but won’t help you do it. We’re not recommending you hire one of those. Rather, find a consultant who’s willing to roll up their sleeves and help you get more sh*t done.