10 Painless Ways to Free Up Major Chunks of Time

Here is a brief excerpt from an article by Jeff Haden, featured by LinkedIn Pulse. To read the complete article, check out others, and sign up to receive email alerts, please click here.

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Success is awesome, but it comes with one unfortunate by-product: the more successful you are the busier you tend to be. Pretty soon you fall prey to the tyranny of “more”: more meetings, more projects, more decisions, and more items on your to-do list.

Eventually something has to give, and that something is usually you — unless you do something about it.

Here are [four of ten] simple ways to regain more of the most valuable thing you have: time.

1. Remove one point of acquiescence: It might be hard to think of think this way, but how you behave shows people how they can treat you. For example, if you let employees interrupt your meetings or phone calls they’ll feel free to interrupt you at any time. Or if you drop what you’re doing every time a certain person calls, he will always expect immediate attention. Or return every email within a few minutes and in time people will always expect a quick response.

So determine at least one point of acquiescence and claw back control.

A friend maintains an “emergency” email account whose messages he responds to immediately. His employees know he only checks his “standard” email a couple times a day… and they act accordingly. (And he’s very quick to point out when an “emergency” is anything but.)

Figure out how you work best, and then make sure you show the people around you how you wish to operate.

While you can’t always control unnecessary interruptions, you can establish a lot more control than you think.

2. Eliminate one report: You’re not reading most of them anyway. And if you’re not reading it, your employees are definitely not reading it.

3. Eliminate one signature (yours): When I first started working at a manufacturing plant, a supervisor had to sign off on quality before every job could be run. Seemed strange to me: we trusted the operators to ensure jobs met standards throughout the run, so why couldn’t we trust them to know if a job met quality standards before they started running? So I got rid of that little procedure right away. (And not only did we free up a little supervisory time, we also ensured production lines didn’t sit idle waiting for a supervisor to arrive.)

You probably have at least one sign-off in place because long ago something went badly wrong and you don’t want the same mistake to happen again. But in the process you also reduced the amount of responsibility your employees feel for their own work because you’ve inserted someone else’s authority.

Train, explain, trust — and remove yourself from all the processes where you don’t belong. (Here’s a hint: that’s pretty much every process.)

4. Fire one customer.

You know the one: the high maintenance, low revenue, eats-up-huge-amounts-of-time-and-yields-almost-no-profit customer. Start charging more or start providing less, and if neither is possible fire that customer as soon as you can.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Jeff is a ghostwriter, speaker, and Inc. Magazine contributing editor.

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