How many times have you heard from friends or colleagues -
“I have no time for anything” or “I wish there were 48 hours in a day” or “I have been working 12 hours everyday but still doesn’t seem enough.”
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about scaling. As one grows in their career/organization and entrusted with challenging tasks, being able to scale one’s throughput becomes increasingly important and sometimes even a pre-requisite. More importantly, you have to be able to scale your output without just putting in more hours. Why is that? Time is not scalable and there are only 24 hours in a day. If all you got is just adding more hours as you take on new responsibilities, you are bound to hit the ceiling soon. Ignoring your friends/family or your personal well-being is not a viable long-term plan.
Here are 4 ways that have helped me scale myself and be less stressed in general.
One of the goals I set for myself as I take up new projects to figure out ways to make it self-sufficient or (ready to go on auto-pilot mode). This involves setting up the right relationships, processes and structures in place to ensure I don’t have to constantly spend a lot of time running the entire show. As a product manager, some of the things that help are — setting up well-understood goals, success metrics, reports, intake-process, customer forums. The goal is to ensure everyone knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how to unblock themselves using the collateral I have provided. Look out for ways to set up systems where your day-to-day involvement is reduced while the team can continue to make progress.
Utilize your reports
One of my bosses once told me — “A great manager succeeds through their report and not the other way around.” Great advice! Direct reports are hired so the managers can accomplish more for the organization. This should be a no-brainer. Try not to micro-manage your directs, smart-hire, delegate and set them up for success. Ensure they can function independently and run the show. You are successful as a manager, when stakeholders stop reaching out to you and work with your direct report instead. This should free up time for you to focus on bigger, better, more strategic things.
One of the best ways to maximize your time is to identify the tasks that are repeated over time and finding ways to “automate” them. For example, I have launched 3 products in the last 7 months. I need to create a GTM plan each time I launch a product. Since I know this is a repetitive task, I have created a document/check-list for myself that I plan to use for future product-launches. So think of the repetitive tasks and build frameworks on how to approach/resolve them. Document themso you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time.
Remove low-priority tasks and outsource
Constantly work to remove low-priority or low-ROI tasks. I realized that I spent way too much time queuing for lunch. I reduced that by selecting a few places that are fast and getting my lunch at 11:45am instead to beat the rush. Similarly, I don’t ever spend time cleaning my place and use a cleaning service for that. My working friends have their own hacks — one of them isnt a great cook and doesn’t even spend/waste time trying. She has set up a food-service to take the burden off. Don’t waste time doing things you don’t enjoy or don’t need to do. Find ways to minimize those or simply outsource!
Hope my tips were somewhat useful. If you have more ideas on being more productive and scaling yourself, please leave a comment.