Time Management: Project Delegation, Freedom, and Due Dates

By Christina Suter on May 14, 2016 at 09:00 PM in Business Issues
Time Management: Project Delegation, Freedom, and Due Dates

Time management is a large and important part of running a business of any size, but it is crucial for those running small businesses, e.g. sole proprietors. Project delegation is a large part of managing your time, but oddly, it's not something many small business owners understand, do, or do well. Time Management is really the process of putting things into your calendar to get things done in a timely fashion.

Time management, task management and file management

I follow the David Allen- Getting Things Done way when it comes to task management. 

What goes into your calendar? What are you going to do within a day, basically, what tasks will you complete within a specific time period? Whether it's meeting with someone or getting a task done. Part of supporting my tasks is managing the files or resources that support my tasks. If I am invited to an event I put the event into my calendar and the tasks surrounding that event may include purchasing the tickets, and having that ticket in hand when I arrive.

Many of us feel we have too much to do and not enough time in which to get them done. I am guilty of having crap out on my desk and not filing it away, it's my weakest link when it comes to my time management.

Here are some tricks from the system I use:

Project Delegation- it's so important because someone has to do it or it won't get done. If you're already overbooked, like a current client I have who sleeps just 5 hours per night, so he and I are working on task delegation because there's too much on his to-do list. I have another client whom herself has too many clients and therefore has no time left to complete tasks.

Using David Allen's method, first find a person who can handle the task. When you delegate, give them the vision of the task; let's say the task is to call a banquet facility to organize your next meeting. The vision then would be to have a professional meeting at this location and here's how I want it to look. This will help them see the end and then double back and fill in the gaps of how many people will be attending, what size room you'll need, etc. The vision gives the background and they can proceed with delivering the task of making the call and meeting arrangements. Finally, give them the due date for the task and confirm that they can get those things done. This gives them the chance to say no if their plate is already full or to answer honestly if they don't have any event organizing skills and wouldn't be confident in delivering. 

You may think that checking with an employee about whether they can complete a task, instead of just assigning it is weak, or you may think it very considerate to ask first. But in the asking, you give the person the opportunity to speak up, it leads to a greater relationship with the employee, and it leads to accountability. It gives them a chance to think about, and commit for themselves, and allows them to deliver by that date. Once they've committed to it, the final piece is to ask if there's anything they need from you to get the task done. When you delegate a task, put the due date or meeting with them in your calendar and pre-arrange to meet with them. As the due date gets closer, be sure you've built into your calendar two times to sit with them and course correct. Be sure to check in with them on the specified day and be patient with whatever they have for you on that day. 

Delegate the project and then trust the person whom you've assigned the task to get the job done. 

No Due Dates

Although I just spent time telling you to create a due date and to put it into your calendar, here's the thing about the David Allen system that i like. When you create a task or project for yourself, don't put a due date on it, instead, create a task list. A project list has more than one task on it, and it may be best to not set up a bunch of due dates because each task takes time, like redecorating the baby's room. If you have a task, that's one step, e.g. write check to DMV. The baby's room requires you to choose a paint color, buy it, pick a wallpaper border, shop around for prices, order it, hang it, etc. Each of those steps are tasks that make up the entire project. 

David suggests not putting due dates in because when you get to your desk and look at your list you'll organically choose what needs to get done today. You will determine what is both urgent and important and you'll take care of those first, and then you'll tackle what's urgent (time sensitive) but not important, and then what's important and not urgent, and then those things you want to get done but that aren't urgent or important. If you don't put the due date in you aren't held by it, you don't get stuck, and you don't set yourself up to feel like you've failed by not having met the due date. For me, I write down the urgent and important and number those for the day because it helps make the long list of tasks manageable for the day.