Invest in Systems to Multiply Time

Are you super busy and have too much on your plate? As per Rory Vaden in Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time, instead of trying to manage your time, you should manage yourself.

Time management requires being more efficient or effective. Rory explains how this can only take you so far since it cannot create more time. The alternative, as practiced by the successful "multipliers" he interviewed, is to focus on tasks that have significant results long-term.

To get to that stage, we have to give ourselves the 5 permissions he discusses. One of them is to let go of the tasks that keep us "busy" without adding value. This includes eliminating and ignoring tasks like unnecessary meetings, revisiting previous decisions, gossip, long e-mails, multitasking, and many others. We also have to learn to say no (albeit nicely) and to stop overvolunteering or doing other people's work.

The second permission Rory addresses, which I want to focus on for this post, is the permission to automate and invest in systems.

Since time is finite, anything that wastes time and does not have inherent value ought to be eliminated. So if you find yourself doing something over and over, this is a waste of time and money and should be automated if at all possible. If you can't do that, yet there is a system or tool that could automate or streamline it for you, it is a worthy investment since it will free up more of your precious time in the future.

And if a system requires you to spend more time now—e.g., to set-up training documents for staff—that too is a worthy investment since it will mean less time wasted on answering questions in the future.

As a process person, this was music to my ears. I wrote about avoiding repetition in my previous blog and am always looking to remove redundancy from my life.

When you're busy it's tempting to focus only on your to-do list and getting as much as possible done day in day out. Thinking about implementing systems could feel like something too big to take on given your limited bandwidth. But what if that system will give you back more time in the future? Wouldn't that be worth the effort today? 

I recommend you do a monthly audit of your tasks. Take a look at where you're spending your time and if there's something that's a recurring task, what the steps are. Then determine if you personally need to do those steps or if—

  1. someone else is better suited for any step since they have the information more readily available;
  2. or better yet, if the data can be exported and therefore that step automated.

If you're not a process person, I would still try to do this audit and perhaps get your boss or a more process-oriented peer to help.

Every time you eliminate, delegate, or automate, you are "multiplying" your own time by making more of it available for what only you can do and for what will bring you significant gains in the future. 

So what can you do to multiply your time? And have you already implemented any systems?