How to Tell if You’re Focused on the Wrong Priorities
If you’re starting to assemble a first-class team of stellar contractors to support your business, kudos to you for taking a crucial step toward true success!
Delegating work to skilled freelancers frees you up to focus on high-priority work, and actually makes you more productive overall. You’ve already recognized that paying team members to support you is a worthy investment, so you’re waaaay ahead of the pack.
However, a stumbling block for many entrepreneurs is deciding which workloads to delegate, and which ones to keep.
It’s easy to assume that tasks you hate or don’t do well should be assigned to others, and that’s not a bad place to start … but it helps to dig a little deeper. If you don’t, you may end up focusing on the wrong priorities and divvying up work that you ought to be handling personally!
We can’t have THAT, can we?
Of course not. So to avoid ending up stuck in Misguided Priority City, use the roadmap below to chart out which work to keep on your own plate, and which work to delegate.
Evaluate priorities based on how and when they make money
Naturally, everything you do for your business creates revenue … eventually. Even community expansion and brand building are ultimately going to build loyalty and bring in new clients. But some workloads are more directly linked to generating money than others, and some bring in profits faster than others. Those are the workloads you should be managing yourself, and I call them “Direct Money Tasks.”
Direct Money Tasks can be linked to traceable, trackable income. Think about getting on the phone with a potential client and closing a sale: The money might not be in your hands immediately, but it’s on the way. These are the tasks that bring in revenue quickly and directly, and should remain in your care as the business owner.
The slow-burn work that won’t generate revenue in the immediate future? Everything under that heading is an “Indirect Money Task.” Think about posting blog content with a call to action. Someone could find your blog post, read it, sign up for your list, and eventually become a customer. Money will come your way, but it might take months or even years to arrive!
If a task can potentially lead to money but takes a longer route, it can typically be entrusted to a virtual assistant or contractor.
Delegate ALL administrative work
There’s a subset of Indirect Money Tasks that’s SO indirect it can’t actually be linked to revenue except in the most circuitous of ways: Admin work. Yes, it’s true that if you don’t do your accounting your business may crash and burn, but no accounting tasks actually generate money. Likewise for tasks that are recurring, repetitive, or involve boilerplate (templated) language. If you’re handling any admin work yourself, it’s time to shift your priorities! Delegate that stuff ASAP!
Understand the difference between “important” and “urgent”
I know, I know, they’re so darned close to being synonyms most of us use those two words interchangeably. But there’s a subtle difference: Important matters have weight, but don’t necessarily need to be handled this instant. Urgent matters may not be important (e.g. a phone call or your doorbell ringing) but they demand your immediate attention.
Many entrepreneurs spend far too much time and energy on urgent (and distracting) tasks that aren’t actually important, while postponing the important work that has the potential to bring in money. (I’m guilty of this myself, so don’t feel badly if you’re currently mistaking urgency for importance!)
Wondering how to sort one from the other? I find this tool INCREDIBLY helpful: The Eisenhower Matrix was developed by former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who used it to set and manage his priorities. Hey, if it worked for the president, it’ll probably work for you, too!
Consider ROI as you set your workload priorities
I’ve written before about how to do a simple return on investment (ROI) assessment before delegating any task, and definitely recommend peeking at that post. In it I outline a quick process for evaluating which tasks can be handed off to team members, that also helps you determine how much an hour of YOUR time is truly worth.
However, there’s also a shortcut – ROI is all about results. If you’re pouring time into work that isn’t generating money, business leads, traffic, likes, partnerships, or any other measurable unit of progress, it might be time to rethink. For instance if you’re spending three hours every week composing blog posts but your site traffic hasn’t increased in six months, perhaps blogging shouldn’t be a priority. You can either delegate that task to a freelance writer if it’s important to your brand or business model, or eliminate it altogether.
Before you can begin dividing the labor, you’ve got to get a clear picture of which types of work can and should be delegated. Hopefully this post has helped you evaluate your priorities, and will help you decide which tasks you can outsource to boost your business’s productivity!