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Automate. Delegate. Eliminate.

Those three words stuck with me from a recent morning networking meeting. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve made it a goal, a career resolution of sorts, to get plugged in to a local group of entrepreneurs, business owners and employees who regularly come together to lift one another up, offer great advice and problem solve from different perspectives.

I found just such a group on Tuesday mornings. Comprised of solo-preneurs, work-from-home business owners, employees at big companies, multi-level marketers and nonprofit fundraising whiz kids, I learn something new every week. Many of the tips are so great I have to write them down (and find ways to share them with you, our wonderful BBB readers and accredited businesses).

Back to those three words.

Eliminate. Delegate. Automate.

A woman named April was talking about clearing the clutter from her literal and virtual desk in order to accomplish more during the day. A photographer and free-thinking creative by trade, April said she needed to create systems that would allow her to do more of what she loves and less of the rest.

One day, she sat down and wrote down all the tasks within her two businesses that she absolutely hated. Loathed. Could seriously kiss goodbye and never look back. Once she compiled a hefty list, she sorted them into the three categories: automate, delegate, eliminate.

Cleaning the photography studio was a chore and a half, delegate it to a cleaning company once a month.

Follow-up emails never got sent in a timely fashion, automate using a program created to do just that.

Prospecting for new clients at dead-end meetings, eliminate.

With each item she sorted, April gained clarity about where her time was being drained. She learned that by paying to automate or delegate certain duties, she was able to focus more on the growth of her business.

She revisits the list she made often. April checks it twice to make sure those time and soul sucking tasks stay in their proper categories. The result, she says, has been beyond gratifying.

With more time to focus on what she loves, April was able to start a coaching business that lets her help other moms unearth and reignite old passions. In turn, April says she’s found her passion.

The crux of that three-word manta is to develop the parts of our careers we love most by clearing away what we love least. Entrepreneur, author and podcaster Tim Ferriss clarifies the process a bit further.

“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined,” Ferriss says. “Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash. How’s that for incentive to be effective and efficient?”

The idea is not to heap garbage on someone else’s plate and pay them for the privilege. It’s about making each work-related task serve a purpose or be scrapped completely. And if the task stays, it must be matched with the best curator for its completion. 

Put another way: write a to-do list for the workday. Pick the two or three most important tasks that yield 80 % of the results you need to be successful. With the other items on the list, determine which are extraneous. For example, you write a blog each week, so on your to do list is “Read 10 related blog articles on XYZ.” Good blogging is authentic and nuanced. Reading 10 articles about a subject you already know is a time waster. Write the blog. Post it. Move down the list. Absolutely hate writing blog posts? There’s a service for that. Delegate, then automate for posting.

Eliminate. Delegate. Automate.

Three words with profound work implications. Try your own de-clutter today. You might just find yourself happily surprised with your newly fulfilling workday.

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Written by Hannah Stiff

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