11. Clearing Your Desk

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/11. Clearing Your Desk

11. Clearing Your Desk


As you progress in Operations, eventually the time will come when you need to clear some of the tasks that you used to do off your desk to make way for emerging tasks and projects.

It’s a natural evolution and something that tends to make most of us uncomfortable at even the prospect of handing over some of our tasks to someone else.

By following a process you'll be the best positioned to do this successfully.

Learn more in this episode.

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What's going on everyone, welcome back to another show of smooth operator. I'm Adam Liette. So good to be back on the microphone. Today, as I'm in a really interesting position personally, in the business, as I'm recording this episode, early in 2022, we're really just getting started on our 2022 plan, which means it's time for me to start thinking about the next steps for my end, and what I need to get off my desk.

So we can progress forward to the next level. And that's what this episode is all about clearing your desk of the tasks that you're not really the best person for anymore, that there's someone else on the team that's better suited to take those tasks. Because as you progress in operations, as your company progresses, eventually the time will come, we need to clear some of the crop off some of the stuff that you used to do, get it off your desk. And that makes way for emerging tasks and projects.

Now, this is just such a natural evolution and something that everyone's gonna go through time and time again. But it's also something that tends to make most of us super uncomfortable, and even the prospect of handing over some of our tasks to someone else. And this is really for two main reasons.

The first is, we all get an overt inflated sense of self that we feel are better qualified or uniquely qualified to do a job. And there's no possible way anyone can do it quite as good as we do. And the other is, we start to wonder what will fill our time if we offload some of these tasks. Both of these feelings are supernatural, but in my spirit experience, super full of shit.

Neither of these is true. And sometimes it's a matter of getting over ourselves.

The fact is that each and every one of us is currently doing one or more tasks that are completely transferable. And by creating a step by step, SOP or process that someone else can follow, we can effectively offload this task off of our of our responsibilities, that are things that are uniquely ours. And we need to treat those tasks with the respect that they deserve, by clearing the way of the tasks that bind us up that take away so much of our mental and physical energy and emotional energy.

By doing that, you're gonna be able to do those more important tasks to a higher level of competency. For example, just with this podcast, and putting together the content of the show, that's something that I own. I can't outsource it, because this is my creative work. And this is not something that can't be replaced at this point. I certainly can hire I certainly can't hire someone to record it for me if you need my voice on it.

Now that's it's my voice. But what can I do? One thing I could do is hire someone to do research for an episode. If there are resources that would help me with my own preparation.

If I'm presenting any facts, I can certainly outsource all the editing and publishing the episodes, not to met not to get Not to mention, like any promotional materials, any emails or social media posts, those are all completely transferable. And I would actually greatly benefit by getting this work off my desk. Keep in mind, this is the type of repetitive work that most of us creative types actually try to avoid doing anyway, because it bogs us down and gets in the way of us making our biggest impact.

So I've gone through a couple iterations of how I've gone about identifying and offloading things off my desk. Each of these has a different framework, and has a different impact on how I approach the project of the first and the and this really the first thing going back probably a year and a half, two years. Whereas I started with a simple list, where I keep track of basically listing the things that I didn't want to be doing anymore. That's a useful first place to start, especially if your day is bogged down with administrative tasks that have no reason to still be on your desk.

Here's a great learning point though. Don't just start with listing the things you want off your desk. Instead, list everything that you do in your day, your week, your month, everything so that you're starting with the position of everything being on the table, because you're likely to miss or purposely keep some things off this list due to either an emotional attachment or pure simple oversight that you may have during the process.

Then when you're ready to put things in the offload bucket to offload to another team member, do so with a pile partner when your business partner with a trusted confidant, a colleague, someone else, take a look at it, talk over everything that you do and assess what the first, second and third things are, that are ready to be handed off to someone else.

And really, whatever the easiest thing to get rid of to offload do that thing first, and then move on from there. It kind of I stole that from Dave Ramsey. When we talked about debt consolidation. He says like take the lowest debt, or the lowest of value debt and pay that off first, because it's the easiest to get. And that simple action gives you momentum, I took that same principle and applied it to hear.

So take the easiest thing to offload. If it's something as simple as creating a five line or, you know, repeatable task in Asana. Boom, I just did that this week, offloaded something off my desk, it took me 25 seconds really to create that project in Asana, make it repeatable, and assign it to a colleague. When you do that, you get the momentum, that feeling of instant relief. And that instant relief is what propels you to move forward to the more difficult task to offload. So another method I use is called a time study. Simply put, I have this little I'm actually doing a time study.

Right now I have this sheet of paper, that's an actual piece of paper, I don't do this digitally, it's handwritten. A time study is simply monitoring everything you do throughout the entire day 24/7. And you chunk this into 15 minute increments. And I mean, everything I put my workouts on here, but my family time, my self care time, my tactical time, my meetings, everything goes on here.

Doing and this is a two week time period, you you monitor your time for two weeks before going back and assessing the results of your time study. And here's what you'll find. And I find every single time no matter how many times I do a time study, and I think I'm on my 20th or 30th at this point is that maybe not that many.

But either way, you'll find huge chunks of time that you're putting into task that keep you from accomplishing the radical, huge goals, the wildly important goals that you have for yourself, when you find those areas of the greatest opportunity right there, it's going to scream at you.

When you assess your time study, you're going to find those areas where this is going to have a massive impact on your daily and weekly work life. I'm telling you, it's exhilarating. And you'll have you'll be ready to get them the hell off your desk once you see them. And you see how much of your time it's actually taking. I look for big chunks. It's kind of the inverse opposite of what I do for with the list where I'm looking for the low hanging fruit to get off my desk.

When I'm looking at a time study I'm looking for where am I chunks, those are the projects because that I know when I undertake offloading one of those big chunk projects off my desk, I know it's going to make a humongous difference. And it's just wait when you have that clarity of what is next.

From that time study, I'm telling you, oh man, it's so good. You can tell and or inversely, you can use this to then inform your list of task is in the previous process. So do your time study first, and then use that to inform your task list from the previous project or the previous process. And once you offload then do another time study, you're gonna see the difference. You're gonna see how much more time you spend on your big projects. And, man, it's a good feeling when you see that.

The final method is this number three, this was recently introduced to me by someone I really know and respect. And it's the most difficult one for me. It's the most difficult one for high level performers, especially high D personalities like I am. And it's the idea that you need to offload the things that you're the best at, instead of looking just for the low hanging fruit. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing offload that this was super scary and uncomfortable for me.

But it's I'm actually in the middle of doing that. Right now. There's a big project we have within the team where I was always the one to handle those type of projects. I'm good at them, I understand them, I see the bigger picture. And instead, I've empowered one of my team members to completely own this project. And what's happened is that person has stepped into a new role.

They've taken on a new level of responsibility. They're excited and empowered. By the level of trust, I've given them in this project, and I'm able to support them in a very difficult project. So I can still have my say, so have my input, but it's not me owning all the decision making.

I have a trusted confidant. I have someone I'm working with. So Over what what really is going to happen here over the next 6090 days, as we accomplish this big task together, my new team member is going to come out with confidence and know that they have my support.

And we've already worked together in that capacity, which is only going to set the conditions well for the future for collaborative efforts that we really need to get together on. So this overall just has two major ramifications for me, I've dropped a huge obligation that I was kind of mentally prepping for in the first quarter.

This is giving me the space to rock out with some other notch initiatives that I haven't haven't working. And some of those initiatives are wildly important that I get those right, I dropped this huge obligation, something that would have taken up a ton of my mental and emotional energy. And I'm pouring it into this other project and said, I'm playing support role in this huge in this other project.

It's a different mentality than when you own it. And I'm setting the conditions for this team member, to be able to rock on these difficult projects and be able to work from a position of being supported by me, instead of me driving the train. Looking back at my own life, I know whenever I was given a new responsibility, usually there was a major task that accompanied that responsibility is kind of my introduction. And in that role kind of trial by fire. I'll never forget when I made Sergeant First Class in the US Army I was made.

I was promoted on a Friday afternoon, and I was made the acting First Sergeant on Monday. So welcome to senior NCO life, buddy. That's how it went. But it was huge. And it really set the stage for the next couple of years. So overall, offloading tasks and taking on new responsibilities is a never ending part of business and growth. But you can't take on those new responsibilities and new levels of opportunity until you offload some of what's previous on previously on your place on your plate.

If you find ways to systematize this, and work through it, that is what's going to condition you to have the best success and that's going to give you the most confidence moving forward. You'll never be totally comfortable with this. If you're doing it right, you'll always be uncomfortable. And that's kind of the point. Embracing discomfort is part of the process.

But when we're working from a process, we have a way to work through that discomfort, we have a way to digest it and internalize it and turn it into something powerful, turn it into something positive to set us up for massive success.

Now this discomfort has a negative side a warning sign that I found privy to everyone's fallen privy to it we'll explore that on the next episode of the show because it deserves its own episode because it is that critical that we do not do what I'll be talking about on the next show.

So happy offloading happy task management and working through your own your own stuff as you take on this most critical part of growth and becoming the person that we want to be until next time this is Adam from Smooth Operator podcast comm check us out at www dot Adam liette.com Do leave us a five star review on iTunes. We really appreciate it. And I will see you next time.

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