June 29, 2001


Last week, a client (let's call her Carol) was telling me about her upcoming three-week vacation to Australia. Carol was excited about going on such a fabulous journey. She was also dismayed at the thought of returning to the mounds of work that will surely await her.

Together, we worked out a plan. We first identified all the routine tasks that Carol performed. Then we assigned each one to an employee who could cover that task temporarily, for the three- week period.

One by one, she delegated every routine task to someone who could perform that activity for the three weeks of her trip to Australia.

At this point, we discussed the bold strategy. If those people could perform all her routine tasks for three weeks, why not let them keep on performing those activities? Why take it back?

Carol discovered that there was no reason for her to resume performing those routine chores. If her people could do it for three weeks, they could do it from now on.

Then it hit her! What was Carol going to do with all the time that she'll have when she returns from her trip? For Carol, the answer was easy. She will block significant time for:

Planning and developing strategy. Strengthening relationships with key customers. Identifying possible new products and new markets. Finding ways to increase profits. Meeting with new potential customers.

What does all this mean for you?

First, this technique works well when you're planning to be away from your office for an extended period of time. So why not plan a vacation? You come back from time off with a new perspective, a higher energy level, increased creativity, and often, a breakthrough idea.

Secondly, make arrangements to let go, for the time of your absence, of the activities that are consuming your time. Let go of tasks that someone else can do - "I can do it better and faster", you say. Sure you can, but ultimately, you are judged on the results you can cause to happen, not just what you can do on your own. If another person can accomplish a task 80% as well as you, delegate.

Let go of your need to say, "Yes" to every request - Some of the most stressed people around can't say no to the next fund-raiser, the next committee, the Little League, the church, etc. Politely, but firmly say "No".

Let go of some meetings - The typical manager spends 17 hours each week in meetings. Nearly a third of that time is wasted. You've seen the symptoms: hastily called meetings, no ending time stated, no agenda, no official record of what was done or said, no follow-up. Skip some of the meetings or send someone else.

Finally, don't take it back! Instead of returning to your routine tasks, figure out which tasks you perform that REALLY make a difference. The rest is just stuff. What are the 2-3 things that YOU do to drive the business? When you can focus on high- impact tasks, you can significantly increase your productivity.

Let go of the routine and don't take it back!

By Gary Lockwood who is Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals and can be reached at




Do you have your summer vacations planned?
If not, do that right now!
What are the tasks that you are doing that someone else could do?
Take the first five and get rid of them.
         Do they need to be done?
         If yes, who can do them?
         When will you have the conversation with that person?
Now that you are in the swing of things, look at what the best use of your time is and block out the time to make your key priorities happen.

"In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind."
 -- Louis Pasteur


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June 29, 2001
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