Have you ever played the “Whack the alligator” arcade game?
It’s where you have to whack alligators coming out of their slots at ever increasing frequency and speed.
You start slow, but it speeds up really, really quickly making it impossible to keep up with alligators peeking out and retreating before you can hit them.
So what’s this got to do with business?
Lots of business owners play whack the alligator. Only this time it’s not the game, it’s for real in their day to day activities. And the consequences of getting it wrong can be quite dire.
Here’s a typical day. See if you can relate.
You have a huge task list. Myriad details to take care of. You’d love to delegate but feel no one can do the job as well as you can.
You’re constantly being interrupted. More and more tasks end up on your desk. You’ve become a slave to the urgent.
You know you should be handling important stuff but never seem to find the time to get around to it. You’re overwhelmed and feel you’re heading for burnout.
If this is you, stop playing the game!
Your job is to get rid of as many tasks as possible so you can focus on what truly matters. Building your business.
Here are some suggestions on how you can take control and get your life back.
Learn to prioritise
Separate the urgent from the important. Constantly being interrupted and pulled in every direction is a guaranteed way to never actually complete anything.
Make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish.
Your first priority is to sort your tasks into those that will help grow your business and bring in the money.
Separate the tasks into the following four categories:
- Urgent & Important
- Urgent & Not Important
- Not Urgent & Not Important
Plot each one on the graph below.
Do the urgent and important tasks first. Then the important (usually strategic, long term business building activities). Delegate the urgent and not important and frankly forget about the not urgent and not important. Be ruthless in getting rid of stuff. If it’s important enough, it’ll rear its head again.
Learn to say “no” and push back. You do not have to acquiesce to every request for help.
Empower your people and delegate!
Rather than just giving people solutions, making them lazy and dependent on you, make them step up and encourage them to find solutions on their own.
Not everything needs to be done by you. Concentrate on areas where you add real value no one else can (yet).
I know it’s hard to give up stuff. You believe you can do it better than anyone else (you’re wrong) or you believe that you can do it faster (you can’t).
By teaching others and empowering them to do it, you get your time back allowing you to concentrate on what matters.
Accept they will make mistakes and not do it your way or even to your standard. But 80% – 90% is often good enough. Spend time helping them correct and learn, freeing yourself up in the long run.
Remember, your goal as the business owner or leader is to spend time working on your business.
- Creating and implementing long term strategic growth plans
- Designing and implementing marketing systems that bring in a steady stream of new business
- Creating products and programs where you do the work once and can sell it time and time again
- Consulting to top clients
Ideally, everything else can and should be delegated. Or you can keep whacking alligators. Your choice.
And here’s the kicker. There will always be someone better than you at even what you do best. Think about how you could find them and bring them on board – giving you ultimate freedom.