As a leader, you likely have a hand in many different sectors of your business, whether it’s overseeing employees or directing specific projects. Because of the amount of time you have to devote to so many different activities, you may be losing time jumping from project to project. But there are ways that you can optimize your workflow without risking burnout and still get the same amount of work done—if not more—with time to spare.
One of the first steps can be learning how to delegate or automating processes that don’t need your direct supervision. Below, eight Young Entrepreneur Council members share these tips and more to give you back a few hours of your time each week.
1. Eliminate Unnecessary Steps First
Stop automating bad workflows or processes. Truly optimize them by mapping them out and eliminating unnecessary steps. Do this with your team in order to gain different perspectives so you don’t miss anything. After you truly optimize the process and ensure it achieves your desired outcome, then automate it. This will save you exponentially more hours each week, month and year versus simply automating the same old process. – Karlo Tanjuakio, Kure
2. Adopt Asynchronous Communication
My advice is to always use asynchronous communication. Going asynchronous is a lifestyle in itself. It teaches your teams to predict sooner and communicate better, raise and elevate problems and learn problem-solving skills instead of receiving specific answers to questions. It also frees up your energy and prevents “decision fatigue” after so many meetings in a day. Plus, it enables flexibility throughout the day, allowing you to focus whenever you feel more creative and to take the time to answer thoroughly as needed. – Mario Peshev, DevriX
3. Learn To Delegate And Set Clear Expectations
Busy professionals need to delegate more and have confidence in their teams’ ability to carry out tasks and projects. By learning to set clear expectations of what the desired outcome of a task is, and then making sure that your team has the right tools in order to carry out those tasks, you’ll take the pressure off yourself to complete and oversee certain business responsibilities. Too often, however, tasks will be assigned with unclear expectations or there will be confusion about what the end goal is. To avoid this, make sure you pinpoint the reason why something is being done and give clear instructions on what the desired result is. – Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas
4. Work On One Task At A Time
I found that by eliminating multitasking from my day, I optimized my workflow and saved a few hours each week. Multitasking, in theory, sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to complete multiple tasks all at once? The thing is, multitasking means it’s going to take you longer to complete one assignment. It’s also worth mentioning that people who multitask usually don’t produce the same quality work as someone who works on one task at a time. I recommend adjusting your schedule so you only work on one task during any given time throughout the day. You’ll find that it’s much easier and faster to complete your to-do list if you’re not trying to juggle several other things simultaneously. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
5. Block Your Schedule
My biggest trick for keeping myself on track and making sure I find time for everything that is important to me during the week is breaking up my calendar into blocks. I set up times in my daily calendar for “work,” “family,” “exercise” and “household.” These blocks limit the number of hours I am working and ensure I am prioritizing more than just work. It forces me to be more focused during work blocks to be sure I am using the time wisely and getting everything done that I need to. These blocks also allow me to set better boundaries and generally make me feel more balanced and a lot happier! – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
6. Automate Simple Tasks
Automating simple tasks can free up time for more important things, and scheduling can help you better manage your time. Automate tasks that take up time but don’t necessarily require your full attention. It could be tasks like completing payments, assigning projects or scheduling social media posts in advance. Today there are more tools than you can imagine just for this. Being in the digital marketing space, my team and I always prepare and schedule these items up to six months ahead, especially for clients’ websites and social media management. That way, no one is spending time running these tasks. – Tonika Bruce, Lead Nicely, Inc.
7. Conduct Calendar Audits
The simplest way to optimize workflow is to do regular calendar audits. Every few weeks, sit down and look at your calendar. Group all the tasks into those that give you energy and those that take your energy away. Then find ways to delegate the tasks that don’t make you feel energetic. The goal of having an optimal workflow is to operate in your “zone of genius.” This means everything you are working on should be things that matter to you, that you are good at doing and that bring you energy. Moving up from the zone of competence to the zone of genius requires regular calendar audits and a sufficient level of self-awareness. This has helped me and my team at Fractal. By looking at where our time went and how we felt when completing each task, we were able to get a couple hours back every week. – Brent Liang, Fractal
8. Understand How You Work Best
You can optimize your workflow by knocking out the easiest tasks first and then tackling the biggest ones later. You usually hear the opposite advice, but it really just depends on what kind of worker you are. Some people function better by getting menial tasks out of the way so they can focus the remainder of their energy on the bigger project. Once you find out what works for you, you can finish your tasks in the way that suits you best. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms