“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time”

-Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

I couldn’t agree more with ole Rick.  Time is so important that I’ve come up with a 3-step process to ruthlessly protect the time I have.  I use a system I call Eliminate, Automate, or Delegate.

Make a List
You can start this process by making a list of all the tasks you are responsible for.  I want you to include EVERYTHING, from simple blog posting to the more involved payroll or staff training.

Eliminate
Once you have your list, I want you to go through your list and determine if there is anything you can eliminate.  If you can, do it.  If a task is for the most part unnecessary or it costs more than it makes you, get rid of it.

For example, if you’re still posting to your gym’s Myspace page…I feel pretty certain you can eliminate that task.  If running a childcare program at your gym is costing you more money than it’s making you, eliminate it.  If the running club you organized only has two people show up to meetings, eliminate it.

Automate
Then of your remaining tasks, you decide which can be automated.  If you determine that something needs to be done, and that it can be automated, do it.  Even if you ultimately end up needing to delegate it, you can streamline a lot of the process by automating as much as you can.

For example, if you are coming to open the gym in the morning, or paying someone else to do it, you should consider setting up a security system that automatically unlocks in the morning and allows your early members to use keycards to access the facility.  If you are manually sending a personal email to anyone who joins your gym, you should set up an email auto responder to do it for you.  If you are handling bottles of water behind the counter, consider setting up a vending machine.

If you are forwarding leads from your website to your sales team, automate it so it forwards to both of you.  If you’re having to write down your schedule for your staff, you can simply share your Google calendar with them.  If you find you’re having to train a new front desk staff or salesperson every month, record a video training and have them watch that first.  Do it once, then automate the process.

Delegate
Once you’ve figured out what you can eliminate, then you’ve automated everything you can, it’s time to delegate.

The thing to remember about delegation is that the person you delegate a task to will NEVER do it as well as you would.  But you have to get over this concern.  My rule of thumb is that as long as they can do 70% as well as I would, it’s fine.

Because if I delegate 4 tasks that each normally take me one hour a week to do, I just freed up 16 hours a month to focus on more profit generating activities, to work on tasks that I actually enjoy, or to simply spend with friends or hanging with my dog MJ or doing something else I love to do.  Remember the point of this is to free up some time to enjoy your life!

Keep in mind that if there is something that you just hate to do, delegate it.  Even if it’s a complicated process, you can take the time to train someone to do it for you so you don’t have the stress of doing it.  For example, you know you should be writing blog posts and sending a newsletter.  But if you hate to write, this is probably never getting done.  Better to delegate someone with some writing skills to do this.  Maybe you hate Facebook.  Delegate status updates and Fan page additions to your front desk.

If you’re still doing your own payroll or accounting or taxes…stop it right now!  Outsource it immediately.  The small amount you’ll pay more than takes care of itself by the reduced stress in your life.  If you are trying to update your own website, find an outsourced website designer to take care of it.  If you’re still teaching class at 5:00am and hate it, have someone else do it.  Trust me, it’s worth the $20 you’d pay someone else to do it so you can sleep in or drink that extra cup of coffee or read the newspaper before you come in after the sun rises.

So remember the three things, in this order.  Eliminate if it’s unnecessary and/or you hate doing it.  Automate if it’s a necessary task that can be streamlined.  Delegate it if you can’t automate entirely and have someone else handle it for you.

My guess is that if you make your big list of tasks, you should be able to eliminate, automate, or delegate nearly half of everything on it.

Life is way to short to try to do everything yourself.  On your dying day, I guarantee you won’t be saying “I sure wish I would have spent more time working”.

Curtis

Do you like the system?  Do you have a system of your own?  Let me and others know by leaving a comment below!