A few months ago, I worked with a husband-and-wife team who own a small business. They were experiencing some workflow issues and wanted an outside opinion. As often happens with married couples who also are business partners, the conversation looped back to challenges they were having within their systems at home.
At one of our sessions, we were working on getting clear about the maintenance of their home and office and who was going to do what. The couple got snagged on the task of washing windows. They had traded off this chore for years, so the conversation ping-ponged between who was going to do it this quarter and who was going to do it next.
Needless to say, as some conversations between couples who live and work together have been known to do, it got heated. I observed for a few minutes to see if the actual issue would present itself. Then, I interjected with one very powerful question: “Are you guys still the best people to be doing that job?” (Cue record screech.) They turned and looked at me with a communal blank stare, then started laughing. Their answer was an obvious no.
I use this example to demonstrate how attached we get to the tasks and routines we’ve done year in and year out. Sometimes out of habit and sometimes out of the need for perfection. At one point, it probably made very good sense for them to wash their own windows, but since then, they have built a thriving business and added two small children to the mix.
Are you the best person to be doing all the jobs you are doing? Do your tasks and routines complement the ebbs and flows of your life? Has your position or status changed, yet you are still performing the same tasks? Don’t depend solely on introspection. Ask a trusted colleague, confidant, or friend to help explore the answers.
Before tackling this likely life-altering exercise, I suggest considering the following three big-picture ideas:
1. Get Clear, Very Clear, on What You Want
Create a vision around what you want to be doing and how you want to spend your time. Without doing so, it’s impossible to answer the question “Am I the best person for the job?” If you don’t have this vision, you will continue to be frustrated — and frustrate those around you. Don’t skip this basic step.
2. Think of Others
Delegate, and delegate again. Let go of your trust issues. If you are going to grow your business or team, then you have to let go of some things and trust the process. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld credits the runaway success of his sitcom to delegating the acting to his costars. He was well aware that he was a stand-up comedian and not a thespian.
3. Share the Burden
Research what your best options are for help in your business or life. There are a plethora of people who want to help with the tasks you want to let go of. They are waiting for you to give them business. Is it time to hire a gardener or a window washer? Is it past time for you to hire a virtual assistant to support your administrative tasks? There are tons of ways to farm out items you don’t want, need, or have time to do. Take advantage of these options and get out of your own way.
On paper, this seems so easy. “Oh, three simple steps, that’s all it takes,” you may be thinking. “No problem.” Don’t underestimate the impact of answering the question: “Am I the best person for this job?” Be ready to receive a whole lot of wonderful and watch your productivity soar.
Sara Caputo transforms how individuals, teams, and small businesses navigate workflow and increase productivity. Her work has been featured in Working Women, Success, and Forbes, as well as other national and regional publications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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