Build a task system that works
Posted on April 9, 2014 by Lioness Staff
“It’s easier just to do it myself than to explain it to someone.” If you have said this before, you are not alone. Many people believe this to be true, and in the very short term, they might possibly be right. But this is faulty thinking that will keep you trapped.
Even if you’re faster or better getting some routine task done, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good use of your time. It’s far too easy to forget about opportunity costs – and value of your time. Every hour spent doing a routine task is the loss (or cost) of an hour that could be spent actually earning more money, doing something that helps your career generally, or generating new opportunities for yourself. Most salaried people really underestimate the value of their time. It’s much easier for professionals and freelancers who bill their time hourly to see that paying someone to run errands two hours a week is actually a net-positive. But the same rationale applies to everyone. Your time is more valuable than you think. Build a task system that works.
By assuming it’s faster to deal with some nagging routine task yourself rather than explain how you want it done, all you are doing is temporarily relieving your anxiety and stress. You’ve checked it off the To Do list for the moment, but you’re not creating the infrastructure and support you need to have a functional, smooth-running system, whether at home or at the office, so that you’re not in a chronic state of recurring overwhelm and stress. Yes, it takes some time to introduce a new system or support person – whether an new employee, administrative or personal assistant, or mother’s helper – into your world and to get them integrated effectively, but just sighing and doing it yourself yet again is just putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.
MAKING A LIST ONCE AND MAKING LISTS THAT WORK FOR YOU
The first step in creating an infrastructure of support for yourself is to stop keeping everything stored in your own head. You need to find a way to externalize and track information, not only for your own benefit but so that you can then find ways to delegate appropriately.
While keeping lists in a notebook, day planner, or notepad are time-honored ways of staying organized, for a busy person who is often in multiple places, this can be a challenge. How do you make sure that your lists are where you need them – especially when you’re juggling home, office, kids, and the rest of life? Who hasn’t had to recreate a list from memory on the back of an envelope in a parking lot? Keeping all of your lists and information in one notebook can be bulky, but having separate notepads doesn’t work well either. Moreover, as life becomes more and more digital, the information you’re trying to track is frequently spread throughout your email or in various internet bookmarks.
This is where software programs like Evernote and OneNote come in handy. Evernote and OneNote let you make lists in folders than can be accessed from your computer, the internet, or your mobile device, and they sync with Outlook and your browser to allow you to save emails, webpages, PDFs, Word docs, and other materials in the same folders as well. Because the programs work on your computer, you don’t have to try to manage your life on the tiny screen of a smartphone, and with their app functionality, you also have all of your information immediately available when you’re on the go. You also can share folders, lists, and other items with others via email or the syncing functionality specific to each program.
Being able to share information efficiently is the most important element of creating a supportive infrastructure for yourself. You can’t delegate or outsource tasks that are not good uses of your time if you don’t have a method for conveying the necessary information to someone else without a lot of duplication or repetitive effort. Programs like OneNote and EverNote aren’t the only solutions. The key point is that to really optimize your time, it’s essential to find a way out of the triage mode where you’re just dealing with fires and to focus on the bigger picture. Carve out some time to figure out and implement an organizational system that works for you AND that allows you to share and access information efficiently so that you can delegate or outsource effectively. Once you start delegating, your initial investment of time will pay off quickly. Time may be money, but your time is more valuable than anything.
Michelle McCloskey is the founder, president and co-owner of Run Around Betties, a convenient and affordable personal assistance firm covering the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas. In this role, she oversees and manages all aspect of the organization, including but not limited to client and employee relations, new business, bookings, and general administration. Armed with real-life expertise assisting busy CEOs, McCloskey approaches her business with purposeful intent ensuring all clients are well-matched and compatible both personally and professionally with their Betties or Bobs (personal assistants). Realizing that busy people do not have the time to vet competent and trustworthy candidates, conduct interviews, background checks, and deal with billing and 1099s, she’s created an organization that instills class-act service from anticipating clients’ needs and organizing their lives to providing dependable, cheerful assistance. McCloskey, 30, is a native Californian who was born and raised in Mission Viejo and currently resides in Sherman Oaks.