How is your time best spent? Your skills and experience may qualify you to perform certain tasks, but do your responsibilities to your work justify it?
Tell me if these sound familiar:
“I can do _____ faster than it takes me to teach someone else to do it.”
“No one else can ______ better than I can.”
“I wear so many hats because I don’t have anyone else available.”
I can practically hear these words coming out of my mouth. That’s because I’ve said them repeatedly over the years. And to be honest, there have been times when I thought these statements were true. But over time, by hiring someone more skilled than myself at certain tasks, or using outside resources to complete a project that could have been performed in-house, or invested the time to teach a coworker a set of tasks I historically did myself, I’ve discovered that there are people who are more capable than me, and the results are better than I could have achieved and that I now have someone available other than myself to own a set of tasks. The end result is that I’ve enabled myself to wear fewer hats, and the work still gets done. And if I really critique my decision, I’ll recognize that things are getting performed a bit better than had I stayed on the hamster wheel of doing them all myself.
One of the most important decisions you can make is to decide how to use your time. It is, after all, a finite commodity. Perhaps the most appropriate perspective to maintain in answering the “where is your time best spent?” question is to focus on whether you want to achieve long-term vs short-term results. If you need to focus on what needs to get done today or address a particular situation that has popped up, there’s a certain justification for doing it yourself. You’ve probably done all the things you do for a long time. But, if you want better long term results, force yourself to focus on what you need to put in place now in order to get yourself out of the cycle of constantly wearing those multiple hats, getting pulled away from what you do best, and most likely not particularly enjoying what you’re doing.
If you’re a creative type who loves to focus on developing new products and has been fortunate enough to make a business out it, you’ve probably recognized that there is a whole lot of not-so-creative work that goes into running a business. And you may have come to accept that while your skills are boundless in the area of all things creative expression, such areas of your business as financial management, sales and marketing, manufacturing and logistics, and HR are not your forte. So don’t try to make them that! It may be one of the best decisions you’ll make to bring on someone who is skilled at the nuts and bolts of running a business, or that you need to outsource your manufacturing, HR, marketing, and accounting tasks. You’ll actually grow your business more if you can stay focused on its lifeblood: your creative product development and let others (a business partner, a freelancer, or some other outside provider) utilize their expertise to make your business all the more successful.
Conversely, you may be totally left-brained. You love organization, spreadsheets, sales reports, and procedures. In other words, the foundational elements of business management. But, your right-brain is your weakness. Product development, art, creativity, free-thinking, and definitely public speaking are not where your skills lie. So what to do? Find resources that are best at what you are least successful with. Whether this means delegating tasks to someone who can perform them better or hiring some outside resource to get the work done, it’s all about the pairing of skills that complement each other.
Maintain your perspective: recognizing what you’re best at and focusing on cultivating those skills while finding resources to address that which you’re least successful with is one of the most responsible and smartest decisions you can make to achieve your long-term objectives. It’s all about how you can stay at your most productive state while at the same time recognizing and nurturing that which you’re least successful with. Because they are no less important.