Most of the day goes by handling unnecessary things and doing unproductive activities, like creating invoices, teaching new joiners from the scratch, explaining the process, taking follow-ups and so on and so forth. By no means do I intend to understate the importance of these tasks but if you notice closely all these tasks can be automated and would still be equally effective.
I automated the maximum routine and build a process for every activity, at the same time made sure that each process is being constantly optimized and evaluated in every 30 days automatically. Sounds complicated right? It is fairly simple, let me explain you with the example below.
Tools, Document and Delegate!!
Every day I spent 4 hours in activities that I did the best but they could very well be done without me personally being involved. Since I had already cracked the code now others could simply replicate. Surely they need to be taught once personally but then they can easily work without any supervision. Hence below are the 3 steps I used to make an easy transition of work from me to other more efficient teammates. The order of the below step is also very necessary to ensure proper handover without any doubts.
I used specific tools for the specific tasks the online tools came really handy when managing tasks and checking the timelines. I never imagined that work allocation, instant communication, and target evaluation could be done so easily. Previously, I used to manage all these things over multiple spreadsheets. There are some great free tools which can give you a whole lot of freedom and save a lot of time. 3 of my favorite tools are Zoho, Freedcamp, and Bitrix24 .
- Can be hosted on Cloud as well as company’s server
- Group Chat
- Can store up to 5GB of document in free version
- Up to 12 users in free version
- Unlimited Users
- Unlimited storage
- Group and person discussions
- Has mobile Apps
- Time Tracking
- Zoho is the list only because it has complete suite like google but much more
- Charts, Milestone, tasks, timesheet tracker
- Free- plan has very limited features.
For the daily tasks, I created a documented process which was shared with everyone with detailed notes, FAQs and pictorial representation of each activity. Pictorial Representation is very important don’t forget that.
Sounds like a lot ain’t it? Well not actually, I was doing it daily anyway, and wasted 2 hours in explaining to people, 1 hour in meetings and 1 hours clearing doubts and all this on a daily basis. So I decided to spend 5 mins extra in documenting and taking pictures of my every action and 30 mins daily in researching the tool which could do my labor work.
Let me explain to you what exactly I mean by this, with a few examples:
Unnecessary things like, Being on call just for the namesake:
This one is for the project managers and team leaders. A lot of time we have to sit on the client call just for the namesake and no matter how hard you try you cannot keep your ears on the call. As a result, you end up wasting at 30 mins per call of your time.
Why exactly do you need to be there?
Because your team is not confident enough; because you are not confident on your team; because you were the first person the client interacted with. Well, none of these are a valid reason, as a leader your role is to build new leaders and a process which can run independently of you.
Unproductive things like keeping a watch on who is doing what and who is taking how long of a break:
I define productivity as an exercise by which you are able to grow your growth/sales directly. And everything else becomes unproductive. So, does it really matter to keep an eye on everyone, you do all that to make sure that there is an optimum level of productivity. Why not set up a process where the productivity is tracked and not the physical presence of the fellow teammates. Decide a deadline/milestone for each peer and let them achieve it on their own. Our best support guy never sits in his seat yet has the maximum happy clients.
Yes, money is one of the driving force to the organization, and to get the money you need to shoot invoices. The general process is either you have to be behind your accounts team to generate and give you the invoice(generally take 30-60 mins) if there is an error in that then got help you, or you create it yourself which again takes 15 mins but distracts your concentration from the real task.
There are tools available at a small cost for doing all your invoicing just by a simple 5 min task at the start of your project. You fill all the milestone as soon as the milestone is marked as completed an auto mail is shooted to the client with the payment gateway link with an invoice.
Teaching the trainees:
One of the major aspects of any organization, this generally happens with every organization. Pretty often we have interns or new joiners in the organization and to get them to speed we keep them with us and teach them everything while directing them which right practices and the proper processes.
A simple documentation of each process and all the FAQ’s with detailed responses would save you frequent interruptions and help the rookies come at par faster.
As a matter of fact, this often improves the team’s process and generate new ideas to improvise and optimize.
The biggest problem was to first remember the person and the date for the follow-up, the second was the way in which you take the follow-up so that your client responds and third to take it repeatedly until you get what you needed.
Tools like HubSpot are a huge asset in such scenarios. As per the statics, all major business deals need at least 5-6 times of follow-up before the deal is closed.
Imagine a tool which is smart enough when to take the follow-up and with whom to take the follow-up. All you need to do is insert generalized progressive follow-up emails, and it works while you sleep or acquire new clients.
We don’t realize the power of technology and underestimate the importance of time. To gather new ideas and grow your business it is necessary to have a free mind and focus on being productive. By investing a small amount of your time in such activity you could increase your business to 10 times to the cost and time you invested building the process and automating the tasks.
For a small example, at EngineerBabu I created a process for all the new joiners. I drafted a document with screenshots and links to everything that they would need to understand their role.
I created 3 major documents:
- Which tools we use and why do we use them:
On an average we use 8 different tools and for various different purposes. It used to take me 4 hours each day for 7 days to teach them all the tools and their real power. Add to that the amount of time I waste in regaining the concentration after each interruption. Not everyone was good at gathering the knowledge from Google and understanding it for themselves.
To solve this we document each document and list What/Why/When/Where/How for each tool.
- How to Use each tools:
Tools these days are very typical and have a learning curve of 3-4 days, and no we weren’t ready to invest that much time in just getting to know the tool. We took screenshot of each step and explained it’s importance in the flow of their work.
Pictorial explanation helped them get used to the tool faster.
After all the efforts there are always some doubts and there are always some standard questions from clients. We marked-down each question, from client and from the rockie, with a pitch perfect answer.
The documentation also helped us in finding out the loopholes and optimizing the process. In a larger team it becomes tough to explain and bring everyone on the same page, but with documentation, things become simpler, organized and standardized, while being highly scalable.
The toughest part of all is the delegation of work. Delegation means trusting your work to someone else. Which means you are entrusting your credibility to be someone else’s work. In other words, you are giving the authority to someone to be the representative of your work and quality. Hence it is the toughest and most crucial task of all. Having said that, if you are able to find even 1 right person, the time it saves is immense; your productivity will take a hockey stick growth.
The pre-requisite to take this step is high-tolerance to failure, and leadership quality . The reason you need these 2 features as pre-requisite is that if things go wrong you have to take the responsibility and not fire the delegate.
How to allocate work?
The art of allocation cannot work if you force it on someone, neither will they do a quality work nor will you be satisfied. The best people to allocate such task are the people who are looking, for new challenges. It should be a recreational stuff for them. You might contradict by preferring the profession of the field in which your task belongs. However, they would already have their plate full of similar tasks hence they would hardly be interested in doing any additional efforts. Moreover, the professional might take it as a burden, whereas a cross-domain person would take it as opportunity and really enjoy the task.
How to find the right candidate?
For finding the most suitable person for your task you need to be aware of your surrounding. If the team is small, you can be more social and know your colleagues better. They will tell you about their new interests and things they are looking forward to experimenting with. That is the right person for you. You can match the domain of your task to the interest of colleagues.
If the team is big, you need to maintain a sheet of interests. A simple and easily accessible spreadsheet which can maintain a record of the developing interest of the colleagues with time. The co-workers will update the sheet as and when they see fit. Whenever you are looking to find a surrogate you can access the list to find the best suitable person who would be interested in harnessing the opportunity.
How to motivate people to share their interest
After some time they would automatically start seeing the value in accepting the new opportunities. Having said that, you may need to motivate people initially. The way I do it is by rewarding people and acknowledging their achievement in front of the complete team. You can also encourage people to share their experience and learning by doing this additional task. It won’t be long before people start approaching you for specific additional tasks. It is a great way to increase bonding and team skills.
I am able to save atleast 4 hours of my day and use them in finding new growth hacks, optimizing the process and help build new leaders while serving my clients to the optimal.