“Got a minute?”
How many times a day do you hear that from your employees?
For years, I’ve watched my clients at work get their day hijacked from them a minute at a time.
So, how do you stop this from happening?
You probably never fully stop it from ever happening but you can dramatically reduce how often it does happen. Minimizing the time drain can be the most powerful difference you’ll ever make for you, your company and your staff.
Here are just four great steps to kick start getting you back more of your day right now and even more as you continue to practice these habits moving forward.
Step #1: You need to find out how you’re really spending your day.
You think you know but you really don’t. I know because I didn’t know where my day disappeared
Luckily for me years ago Dan Holohan, PM author and great friend, watched me, as an owner, at work as we’d ride to jobs together or when he’d be at my office. He could see all too well that my day was being stolen from me a minute at a time and he suggested I write down when this was happening and why it was happening.
PAINFUL!! But, it was totally the medicine I had to take.
Here’s the good news: I created a form for myself that I now use with my clients and if you want a copy of it just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share it with you.
You need to print this form out and put it into a clipboard that’s always at your side when you’re at work so you can write the following:
- What was the time of day?
- What were you doing?
- Should it Change? And who else could have done it?
Now, you may think you’re going to go to your computer, tablet or smart phone in the moment that your day is being stolen but so far none of my high tech clients have been able to get the information down without the handy form.
Note: Studies show and my experience has proven this over and over that there is a direct connection of writing and your brain as it relates to a higher level of learning, so my recommendation is to go old school and write it out.
Step #2: Once you’ve completed the Time Tracking form for two weeks, you need to review it so you can devise an action plan to make the necessary changes.
Be aware, my clients tend to give up in frustration after just one week of completing the template. That’s because it can make you sick to your stomach. But even if you only do it for one week, it’s going to give you the good kind of sick to your stomach because you need that nausea to fuel your need to change how things work or don’t work at your company today.
Step #3: You need to become a master delegator.
The Steps of Delegation process is so helpful in stopping your staff from unloading their work on you. It’s also a great way to help them grow at your company by getting a small project or a to-do item to done.
It’ll be hard for both of you at first. They are used to you taking what they dump on you and you are trained by them that they can’t get things done as well as you so you might as well do it yourself.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy and a huge trap. Learn to avoid it. Learn how to delegate the right way. The right way is in writing.
Here are the key parts of Steps of Delegation:
- Write out what needs to get done in objective terms
- Explain why it needs to get done
- Share what they have available to them in time, money and manpower to accomplish this
- Prioritize on a 1 to 5 scale with 1 being super urgent
- Give the deadline for getting it done
- Set a frequent meeting schedule before the deadline date
- Determine what rewards and consequences there are
Step #4: You need to become less available.
Year ago at my own shop, I had an open door policy. That meant you could stand at my door and talk to me about anything at any time you felt like it.
Sounds good but really not so much.
What I learned that works better is to have assigned time slots when you will and won’t be available and that they need to sign up for those slots. They then tend to value your time more and you can be able to be undisturbed for blocks of time to work on your to-dos. It also makes your more available to them when they show up for their slot. Hey, it’s hard to really listen when you haven’t blocked out the time to do so.
Another thing I learned along the way is if I made the time slots to talk for after 5 PM, many of the requests for my time disappeared because now they had to invest their own time and not just mine. It helped separate those who wanted to kill time and those who wanted to invest their time with me. If they still wanted to meet then, I was all ears because I felt it was going to be well worth talking for both of us.
My better training them on their areas of responsibility and holding them accountable to those standards also freed me up to work on my responsibilities. But, I had to be relentless in doing this. I had found out that if I answered a question that I knew was covered in a manual or I had trained them on and they had demonstrated to me they knew it, I would be reinforcing what I call my being, “The Answer Person.” That means they get to be the “Question Person” and there’s no need for them to know anything because I’ll be the endless supply of knowledge for them.