Time Management For Agency Owners – The 3 D’s and an A

As our agencies grow, we move further away from the tasks we enjoy or those that once made our agency successful. Instead, our days become filled with meetings about meetings, company issues take priority and days merge into weeks then months without us feeling like we’ve accomplished anything of value to the business.

We monitor and manage the utilisation of our teams, yet many founders rarely consider their time management. And I’d argue that as an agency leader, this is one of the most important tasks you can continuously focus on in business. 

In my focus on self-development and continuous improvement, increasing productivity and output was a conscious focus. Now, if you trawl the web or visit YouTube, you’ll find an infinite number of ways to increase your productivity. I’ve watched dozens of videos and read any number of business books. In this research, I’ve decided, that for me, the simpler the process, the more likely I will stick to the plan.

When it comes to most life goals, many of us fall at the first hurdle because the changes we need to make go against the ingrained habits and processes we’ve built over the years. This is true for many things like diets, going to the gym, saving money and indeed becoming more productive.

Change takes time and it takes commitment. It’s often hard to make the changes you need because we can’t find the time. We’ll not try to eat the elephant in one sitting but rather focus on singular tasks or activities we engage in daily.

I stick to a productivity method called the 3 Ds. Remember simple is easy and simple is more likely to be stuck to.

The 3 Ds stand for Do it, Delegate it and Delete it. Let me explain them further.

Do it

If a task will take you less than 2 minutes, do it immediately. If you stop reading now, this tip alone will change your life. 

I read about this “2-minute rule” in James Clears’ “Atomic Habits” and it clicked with me immediately. Both at work and at home. 

If an email comes in and the response will take me less than 2 minutes to action, I type the email. Now if I don’t want to seem too available, I’ll schedule the reply for a later time…But the email is in the outbox ready to send.

I tick off the task mentally and the mental capacity it occupies is freed up instantly for new tasks.

How many times do you have tasks at home that you say “I’ll do later”? Then later is delayed and either you forget or it becomes a contentious household issue. Look, leaving your shoes in the doorway is normal right?

Since implementing the 2-minute rule in my life, I constantly remind myself that doing the task now is often easier and quicker than delaying it. So just do it.

Delete it

Let’s be honest for just a second. How many tasks and activities did you do today that added no value to your business or were not your primary focus?

Are you in meetings because you need to be or because it’s always been done like that? The same with emails, how many emails do you get that consume your time, but are irrelevant to your role or needs as a business owner? 

Think about you for just a second. If the task, activity or email doesn’t help you fulfil your role or can be actioned by someone else. Delete it from your tasks and priority list.

Delegate it

To this point, we’ve become productive and ruthless animals. Efficiency is now our middle name. But you can’t do every task immediately, and deleting every task isn’t practical, even though we often want to. Sometimes we need to delegate tasks.

It’s important to note that delegation doesn’t just mean handing over every task to your team (though we work toward this in The Creative Mastermind Programme). It also means delegating the task to yourself when you can schedule this for completion.

I time block 30 minutes admin in the morning and afternoon. All admin tasks are done in this period. If the block runs over, that is fine, but I have 30 minutes of consistent focus on the mundane tasks that must be done.

When possible, I delegate the task to the team member who would be best suited to action it. The challenge many business owners face is that it’s quicker and easier to just do the task. I faced this myself! But when you empower your team, and give them the knowledge and understanding to complete a task, you see this as a win regularly.

Bonus – Build a process and automate it

In business, I have a rule I use daily. If we do the same task more than once, we write out the process and where possible automate the entire thing or as many of the processes as possible.

I have default templates for emails, automation created for exporting documents and pre-flighting for print. I even have shortcodes for frequently used sentences. 

How many times do you write the same sentence? I use “If you need anything else please just shout” multiple times a day to sign off my emails. Well, instead of typing that out, I use the shortcode IYN. Seconds and many keystrokes saved. It’s not the only one either.

Critically review every task you complete and find ways to improve your efficiency through automation.

Don’t eat that elephant all at once

Applying the 3 Ds will allow you to become more efficient and effective in your role. But looking at every task you undertake every day all at the same time can feel like a gargantuan task. Start small, start right now. Take your next task and apply the 3 Ds to it. See how it works and refine it to be even better next time.

And don’t forget to celebrate the wins

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