Whether you’re trying to beat burnout, want a real maternity leave or just came down with COVID-19, every entrepreneur needs to be able to step away from their business for an extended period of time without worrying that there will be repercussions. That’s not just because controlling your time is one of the reasons you became an entrepreneur. It’s also because it just makes good business sense. When you’re too much of an essential employee, you actually slow the growth of your business by creating a bottleneck in the way of success.
Adrienne Dorison, co-founder of Run Like Clockwork™, alongside her business partner, Mike Michalowicz, helps entrepreneurs step away from their laptops and out of the way of their own success. She enables CEOs and entrepreneurs to design businesses and teams that are ultra-efficient and don’t require so much oversight that they can’t be away from their email for a second. Using her years of experience in the field of operational efficiency, she has empowered hundreds of clients to reach their four-week vacation goal—and can help you do the same. Here’s her four-step strategy for doing just that.
1. Perform A Detailed Time Analysis
“Many entrepreneurs feel like they’re constantly busy—yet they never seem to have time to get the deep, visionary work done. This is often because their attention is constantly being diverted for any number of reasons: questions from members of their team, calls from family, social media alerts. The first step to saving time is seeing where your time is actually going,” advises Dorison.
“When you do a detailed time analysis, write down every time you switch tasks, every time you’re interrupted, every time you have to answer a question for a member of your team. You may be shocked at how often you switch gears, and how little focused work you accomplish. Try this for a week to get a good picture of how your work days are spent.
“Once you have your detailed list of tasks from the week, go back through and ask yourself:
- Can I trash this? Is this a task I can get rid of altogether?
- Can I trim this? Can I spend less time on this particular task? Shortening meetings, for example.
- Can I transfer this? Is there someone else on your team who can do this task?
What’s left are the tasks you will ‘treasure’ and keep on your list as CEO. This one exercise can help stressed business owners reclaim anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours a week.”
2. Transfer Tasks Using How-To Videos
“One of the time-drains you may have discovered doing your time analysis is answering questions from your team about tasks you thought you delegated. When this happens, it means that they don’t have the information they need to do the task, they don’t have the permission they need to make their own decisions, or they don’t have the confidence to make those decisions,” says Dorison.
“The fastest and easiest way to transfer a task—and provide the information, permission, and confidence to accomplish it—is to create a how-to video. The benefit of video is that you’ll never forget a step, because you’re actually doing the task as you record it. Your team can see exactly how to do the task in real time. You’ll never have to explain how to execute a task again.
“On your computer, screen-recording services like Loom and Vimeo can record every step of a process for a digital task. If you have a ‘real world’ task to share, just record a video on your phone. Keep these videos organized in folders in a central location the entire team can access. Then, whomever needs to can find and use the videos on their own.”
3. Adjust Your Plan Seasonally
“What worked last year when your kids were in school may not work this year when they’re learning remotely, so you need to adjust your plan seasonally and based on what’s happening in your life,” notes Dorison. “If you have kids at home, you may find that “batching” all your calls back to back in one day no longer works for you, so you may need to switch to taking one to two calls every day instead.
“You also may need to trash, trim, or transfer more tasks than you did when you had the house to yourself. Likewise, if your business has a busy season—like a tax accountant, or a product-based business that ships a lot of product during the holidays—your plan may need to change. Perhaps you trash your weekly hour-long team meeting and instead do a 5-minute daily stand-up. You may find you need to repeat the time-tracking exercise in different seasons of your business, as well.”
4. Try Taking A “Test” Vacation
“Before you step away for an extended period of time, give a mini-vacay a go. Some business owners start by leaving the office one day per week or for an extended weekend. If something goes wrong, treat it as an opportunity to refine your systems. Continue to trim, trash, and transfer—training your team until you have all the vital business tasks covered for every season,” suggests Dorison.
Work your way up to being able to take a month off without a hiccup in your business by employing these four tactics.