Time management has become increasingly important particularly in the modern hectic and frenetic workplace.

The way you manage your time has a significant impact on the failure or success of your business. Generally speaking, the most useful part of practicing time management for business owners is the art of delegation.

Many large companies have created their “overnight success” simply by focusing on time management and delegation. Giving them the advantage of being able to leverage the time of all employees; from executives to front-line staff.

Melbourne Business Coach, David Guest believes that the key to being successful as an entrepreneur and business owner in today’s uncertain economy is to be effective with your time management and, to whatever extent possible, delegate.

What To Delegate

To achieve true time savings, it is important that you first assess what’s “on your plate”. You need to be clear about your prioritizes and work out which ones need to be finished first. Tasks that are important for the long-term success and growth of your business are vital; and if you’re currently prioritizing lots of urgent jobs instead of the ones that are important to your business, then you are really compromising yourself and your business (Sign up for the 14 Day Action Challenge for practical steps to take in uncovering the true priorities for your business).  Just by working out your business priorities, you’re likely to have a eureka moment and find that there are a whole bunch of things you’re doing that you really don’t need to be doing at all. Saving you precious time that you can be allocating to far more beneficial activities.

How To Let Go & Hand It Over

Now you will have a list of jobs, projects or tasks that are in some kind of order or priority. You may be tempted to just quickly do the 5 second or 5 minute tasks yourself; this is dangerous thinking. The temptation to do it yourself because it’s “quicker if I do it” is a handcuff to where you are right now; so if your business isn’t as successful as you’d like it to be right now, then you need to be teaching someone else to do this task so that it only takes them 5 seconds/5minutes. This is where you really need to put your CEO hat on. If you’ve got employees then it’s a matter of deciding who is the best placed person to take on this task for the long haul (not just for today, but to make it a part of their everyday responsibilities), that way you’ll feel more comfortable about investing the extra time and attention to train this person to do the job properly. However if you’re a single person venture at the moment, then now is the time to start thinking about your day differently. For some it helps to sort through all the different things they do and group them into similar tasks (do all your emails at one time, do all your meetings one after the other, do phone calls at a specific time etc). Alternatively, you give yourself a huge advantage if you begin to work at your business more like you have a number of part-time jobs that you do everyday. For example, in your business you may be the Bookkeeper, Sales person, Marketing manager, Warehouse person and Customer Support person. Instead of your day being an uncontrolled jumble of all the tasks and jobs of all these roles, break your day into time blocks when you do just one type of work (like Marketing manager early in the morning, Sales person mid-morning to lunch time, Customer Support in the middle of the day, Bookkeeper in the afternoon and Warehouse person before the end of the day – when you maintain this routine and get strict with the time changeovers you’ll find your existing customers learn when best to contact you). As you grow, you’ll find it much easier to employ people or outsource because you’ve already got your processes sorted into job roles that others can take on.

Teach Them How First

When you’ve got someone else that you can get to do tasks for you, it isn’t a simple matter of asking them to do it and leave it to them to figure what they have to do. You have to first teach them and in teaching them, explain to them the standards and quality of work you expect them to meet. There also has to be an understanding of what the consequences are if they are unable to do the task correctly – It’s a mistake to think that you’re helping someone by keeping them ignorant; give them all the horrible details of what failure means for you, the business and them (For example, You’re teaching someone to pay the business bills for you and you have one particular supplier, which when their bills come in you have exactly 8 business days in which to pay it otherwise you get a huge fine. The person you’re teaching must be given these facts and then need to know that if they fail to pay on time and a fine is received that there is a consequence – they get in trouble, or whatever you choose to do about it). You also want to have a common understanding of what happens when your employee thinks they’ve finished the task. At the same time, there needs to be an agreed way for communicating problems and acknowledging when your employee has done a good job.

Give Assistance & Feedback

Once a task has been delegated, you need to step back and allow your employee to manage his or her time and do it their way. It’s highly unlikely that they’re going to get the job done 100% right the first time they do it, so make sure that you’re ready for a far less than perfect first go by your employee. Again, put that CEO hat on to stop yourself from wanting to take the job back. This is not the answer! You need to give your employee feedback (not the angry abusive sort, but the type of feedback that points out the problems factually, explains how to fix the problems and then asks for their assessment of their own performance in doing the task) and have them correct the problems themselves that way they will actually learn how to do it right next time.

Pass Across The Responsibility

Now that your employee has done the task at least once, you need to prepare them for the on-going responsibility of this new task in their job description. This involves letting them know how often they can expect to have to do the task, what the priority of this new task is in comparison to other things they’re already responsible for and how this new responsibility impacts on any KPIs they have for their employment performance assessments. Again you want to reinforce the ramifications of failure, the standards they must meet, what happens once they’ve done the task, how to handle questions, problems or unusual situations that may arise and give them the authority they need for performing the task to the best of their abilities. You must give your employee the space, confidence, trust and authority they need to do the task in their own way so that they can learn to best manage their own time.

Getting Rid of The Rest

It is important that in shedding these quick tasks you don’t become complacent and allow your now extra free time to be consumed with other jobs or projects that also need to be delegated. Unlike a quick task, jobs and projects tend to require a lot more thinking and doing from you, which makes them that much harder to hand over to someone else. What you must do is use some of your new found time for assessing and evaluating the jobs and projects you have “on your plate”; and by this I mean breaking them down as much as possible in to smaller quick tasks. When you break them down you’ll immediately find that there are bits of work that can be delegated straight away to other people – this gets momentum going on the project or job and makes it easier to justify allocating time to it once you get to this stage. The things that you need to contribute to the project also become glaringly obvious and once you know the commitment needed from you, you can actually begin to plan when and how you’ll do what has to be done. It’s the planning at this stage that really begins to give you bigger chunks of time saving. The goal is now to stick to your plan and do what you need to do and continuously look to delegate tasks to your team – this frees up your time and increases the knowledge and skills of your employees (if you’re fearful of loosing staff and them taking their knowledge and skills with them, make sure that every task that a particular role is responsible for within your business is documented – this is something you can get your employee to do as part of their learning when they’re being taught something new during the delegation process).

To take your success in business to the next level, you must be able to put into practice your time management and more importantly your delegation skills. As any good Business Coach would encourage you to do – delegate, delegate, delegate!