[34:43] Delegating Outside Work
- When you’re a medical professional who doesn’t have much control over your schedule, you don’t want to get all your free time occupied doing housework.
- You don’t necessarily have to delegate household activities you love doing.
- The time management tip that Anna uses in her personal life is outsourcing tasks she doesn’t enjoy doing.
[39:13] The Time Management Skill of Determining What to Keep and What to Delegate
- Zero in on the activities falling within your zone of genius. It’s at the intersection of your passion and proficiency.
- The activities within your zone of genius are what you need to hold on to because they will allow you to be your best self.
- Delegate things you are passionate about but not proficient at or vice versa.
- The prime activities to delegate are things you have low passion for and proficiency at.
‘Anytime you are evaluating your responsibilities, and you’re thinking through each one, ask yourself: How passionate am I about this? And how proficient am I at this?’
- Evaluating your passion and proficiency for every activity enables you to be intentional and prioritise delegating.
[43:40] Spending More Time in Your Zone of Genius
- Think hard about what things you should be delegating to keep yourself in your zone of genius.
- This passion and proficiency lens opens up awareness about how you spend and how you want to spend your time.
- Living a life with no regrets starts with honing the time management skills you need to take control of your days.
[45:52] Anna’s Top Three Tips
‘Time management begins with heart management. Until you get crystal clear on what truly matters most to you, you can’t begin to effectively create a calendar or a schedule or manage your time.’
- Create a vision for the future and the life you want to create for yourself.
- Set goals.
- Articulate your core values. These are five to seven words that represent what’s most important to you that can serve as a decision-making tool.
Anna Dearmon Kornick is the time management coach that helps busy professionals spend time on what matters. She works with individual professionals, companies, and nonprofit organisations. Anna identifies the time management challenges they need to hurdle through and builds customised solutions using proven methods. She helps clients stop feeling overwhelmed and increase productivity, focus, and effectiveness.
Anna is also a sought-after speaker, applying her experience as a crisis-communications problem-solver to actionable tactics and strategies. Apart from this, Anna is also the host of the It’s About Time Podcast, a show on time management and productivity for work-life and balance.
You can reach out to Anna through her website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. You may also send her an email.
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Dr Rachel Morris: Do you feel overwhelmed with work right now? And have you tried every trick in the book to get to the bottom of your to-do list, deal with your deadlines, and get away before tea time on a so-called half day? If so, then this episode’s for you, I’m chatting with Anna Dearmon Kornick, a time management coach and podcaster, who gets what it’s really like to feel overwhelmed, and like you’d do anything to get your life back. Anna has a very pragmatic approach to dealing with your workload, and behind the practical tips and suggestions, lies a deeper philosophy about life. What brings your heart joy? What’s really important? And how can you steward your time and manage your schedule to live true to your core values, and what really matters to you in life.
So listen to this episode, to find out how to make the most of your admin time and make it super efficient. Listen to find out the secret to successful delegation, and how to work out which things you need to delegate or drop altogether to live a full, yet spacious life.
Welcome to You Are Not A Frog, the podcast for doctors and other busy professionals if you want to beat burnout and work happier. I’m Dr. Rachel Morris, I’m a GP now working as a coach, speaker and specialist in teaching resilience. Even before the coronavirus crisis, we were facing unprecedented levels of burnout. We have been described as frogs in a pan of slowly boiling water, we hardly notice the extra long days becoming the norm. And I’ve got used to feeling stressed and exhausted. Let’s face it, folks generally only have two options, stay in the pan and be boiled alive, or jump out of the pan and leave.
But you are not a frog, and that’s where this podcast comes in. It is possible to cross your working life so that you can thrive even in difficult circumstances. And if you’re happier at work, you’ll simply do a better job. In this podcast, I’ll be inviting you inside the minds of friends, colleagues, and experts, all who have an interesting take on this. So that together, we can take back control and love what we do again.
I’d like to let you know about a webinar, we’ve got coming up all about the three crucial conversations you need to have with your team right now to help them deal with their workload and beat the feelings of stress and overwhelm that many people are feeling at the moment. It’s totally free. And it’s particularly for leaders in health and social care. So if you want to build a robust team through difficult times, without burning out yourself, then do join us by clicking on the link in the show notes to register. So it’s great to have with me on the podcast today, Anna Dearmon Kornick! Now Anna’s a time management coach and a podcaster. So welcome, and thanks for being on.
Anna Dearmon Kornick: Hi, thank you so much for having me! I’m really looking forward to our conversation today.
Rachel: Yeah, me too because Anna, we sort of linked up through a mastermind group that we’re part of and I’ve listened to podcasts with you talking about time management and I was really impressed. I thought, “Right. Got to get this lady on for my listeners.”
Anna: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. It’s my pleasure.
Rachel: I’m just interested, how did you get into this whole sort of time management thing in the first place?
Anna: Well, thank you so much for asking. I’ve got to say, whenever we’re small children and someone asks us what we want to be when we grow up, time management coach was definitely not my response. I actually started my career in the marble halls of the United States Capitol. I was a congressional scheduler and I spent about 10 to 12 hours a day, it seemed like, parked in front of a calendar, managing one of the most hectic schedules in America.
We’re talking hundreds of meeting requests and speaking requests and committee meetings and you name it. It was a lot to field. Very early in my career, as I was learning how to manage my own time as a young professional, I was also managing the time of a congressman. After spending some time there, I really missed home and I moved back and kicked off about a decade long career in the high stakes world of crisis communications and government affairs: oil spills, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, let’s see, universities are on the brink of financial collapse, nonprofit embezzlement schemes, you name it.
Every day was another crisis and every day was creating some kind of order out of chaos, but as you can imagine, that kind of lifestyle really began to take its toll on me after a while. My boundaries were out the window, my relationships were crumbling, my health was not in a good place, and I was really beginning to miss out on experiences that meant a lot to me. I was stepping away from dinners, I was missing baby showers. One day, I decided that enough was enough so I walked away from my prestigious career in communications in search of something different.
I wasn’t exactly sure what that was going to look like but I knew that there had to be a way to marry that interesting time management experience that I gained early in my career with my communications background in order to help professionals either dig themselves out of that tough place, that dark burnout place that I was in or maybe even help them avoid it altogether. Now, I’m a time management coach and host of It’s About Time, a podcast sharing stories and strategies to inspire better work-life and balance and you can say that I’m on a mission to help busy professionals stop feeling overwhelmed and start spending time on what matters most.
Rachel: Wow, that is some mission. Gosh, Anna. Wow. That story of feeling like you were missing out on life, that you were overwhelmed, that you weren’t getting the things you wanted, that your job was your life, I think that that’s going to be ringing true for a lot of my listeners who are, I think, facing, I think it’s fair to say probably the biggest workload that they’ve ever faced in the UK with doctors after COVID.
I’m sure it’s probably the same in the US as well, that the demand has gone up exponentially and people are just feeling overwhelmed. I guess that there might be slight antibodies to the thought that time management is the answer but I know that a lot of it is and that’s why I wanted to get you on the podcast.
Can I just ask you what you think the difference is between professionals who have a bit more control of their diaries in terms of that they can schedule meetings, emails, they’ve got a lot of time to do that work and professionals who have those schedules like they’ve got clinics or seeing patients or they’re in court or they’re doing stuff?
Do you have to have different time management for the two different types of things or are there techniques that can apply across to both?
Anna: Well, I can tell you that while both are absolutely challenging and they each have their own unique challenges, if you’re someone who has more control of your meetings and how you spend your day, that’s more strategy that you have to apply to your work. But if you’re someone in the medical profession who so much of your calendar is set for you, you really have to focus on those strategies that enable you to make the most of the time that you do have control over. There is definitely a slight difference.
Rachel: I think that word “control,” that’s the thing that sort of I teach about time and time again because the stressful thing is when we don’t feel that we’ve got any control over it and I guess the thing that we feel out of control of that moment is workload, that there’s just too much work for the time available. I know, I always think it’s a bit like if you get a balloon and you fill it with water and then you try and squash it into a jar, well, it just won’t go.
It doesn’t work and I think we spend a lot of our time trying to squash that balloon into the jar and then realising it isn’t going to work. I’m sure you probably talk about that in a second, just getting a better schedule and just making sure your diary is okay, that doesn’t really cut it, does it? Because whichever way you cut it, you’ve still got too much work to fit in so we’re going to have to try this time management thing in a slightly different way.
Anna: Right, definitely and when it comes to having a calendar or having a schedule that you don’t have control of, one of the ways that you can feel a bit more in control of it is simply by taking some intentional time at the beginning of your day to look at the day ahead and mentally walk through your day. Okay, first, I have this appointment, then I have this appointment, then I have this appointment.
Because when you start your day, or your week for that matter, with that bird’s eye view walking through your week or your day, you’re able to anticipate problems in advance, anticipate obstacles in advance, begin coming up with solutions. You’re able to, instead of taking things minute by minute or hour by hour and almost being surprised by what’s coming next, you’re able to have more confidence and more clarity about the rhythm of your day.
Rachel: That makes a lot of sense because I think what I’ve noticed, particularly healthcare professionals and particularly with the fact that a lot of us are doing stuff virtually, we might be in a surgery, or we might be in a hospital, but actually, a lot of our work is still online. We might be Zooming into the patients from a hospital or from a GP surgery so we’re sat at our desk and we’re not having the natural breaks in our schedule like we’re used to.
We’re not even getting up to call patients in because it’s just sort of working through a thing. We’re not having the natural coffee breaks and the natural lunch breaks when you’d get together. That’s sort of looking through your diary and thinking, “Okay, when am I scheduled to work and when am I going to schedule my breaks in and what am I going to do with my breaks?” I think it’s really important and I know you’ve talked about this a bit as well, don’t you? I think you talked to me before about giving breaks a purpose?
Anna: Yes. Well, getting that overview of your day, that’s the difference in walking into your day proactively versus reactively because if you finish a Zoom meeting and then ask yourself, “Okay, what’s next?” You’re scrambling, you’re being reactive, but if you wrap up a Zoom meeting in a “Okay, I have 10 minutes. With this 10 minutes, I can take a break, I can get a snack, I can know what to do with it” and absolutely giving your breaks a purpose when you have breaks.
I actually worked with a dermatologist as one of my one-on-one time management clients in the last year and she struggled with the same exact scenario. Her day was — felt very out of her control. She was taking appointments based on what was scheduled for her and in the 5, 10-minute breaks between seeing patients, she would fall into her default mode of checking her phone. That resulted in her having to contact patients and do transcriptions or patient notes in her off-hours, in her evening hours, and she felt like she never had a break.
What we did is we worked out a strategy where each morning, she would decide, “Okay, today during my breaks, first, I will do this. Then, I will use this break for patient notes.” Even though she was making tiny bits of progress during each break, she was still making progress instead of saving it all for the evenings when she wanted to spend time with her family.
Rachel: Yeah so it’s just about that planning and that looking forward. I think with healthcare professionals, often they’ve got sort of clinics or surgery scheduled in or meetings scheduled in, and then, they get their sort of I call it downtime. It’s not downtime. It’s admin time and that is the time that’s really, really difficult because there’s always too much to fit into those small admin stuff. It could be a couple of hours but it could be literally half an hour before the next surgery. What advice do you have for people on how to manage that admin time so it actually works?
Anna: Absolutely. I think a very strategic way to approach your admin time is almost to think of it as though it’s a meeting with yourself. When you think about the most effective meetings, they have agendas, right? They have a step by step flow so that everyone is on the same page about the order that business will be handled in a meeting. When you approach your admin time with an agenda that you create for yourself, and I would have to imagine that as a healthcare professional, you’re typically doing the same types of admin week in and week out.
Whether that is returning phone calls, or patient notes, or any number of things, my top recommendation for using your admin time well is to create an agenda that you use each and every time you sit down to do that admin time. What’s the first thing that you’ll do? And after you work on that, what’s the second thing and what’s the third thing? To, every time you sit down for admin time to follow that same exact agenda.
What happens when you do this is you begin to train your brain to know, when you sit down for admin time, what’s coming and it helps you create this mindset that enables you to focus. It enables you to focus faster whenever you follow the same order or the same flow, it enables you to almost put yourself on autopilot in a way because you’re not sitting down and thinking, “Okay, it’s admin time, what am I going to do first?” You sit down and you think, “It’s admin time. First, I’m going to do this” and you know what that’s going to look like for you each and every time.
Rachel: Oh, that makes so much sense because we also know that batching is a really good idea in terms of efficiency so you do one type of task at once. I think a lot of us forget, right? “Okay, I’m going to do that referral lesson, then all those that patient note and then all those, that call, and I’ve just got to do this” and then, we’re scattered and we still feel very overwhelmed because we don’t have a plan.
Just having that automated checklist that we know, “This is what I do. When I sit down, I do this and then I go to this and I go to this” and then, you’ll start to feel more in control because you’ll start to get a feel of how long things should take. Do you have any advice for what sorts of tasks should go first and what should go last?
Anna: I think that this is going to be great for personal preference. We all have those things on our list that we like to procrastinate, that we like to save until last and then we never get around to doing them or we end up doing them at the very last minute. I would say that this is a time when it’s really important for you to know yourself and maybe you’re someone who needs to start with that thing that you want to do the least.
There’s a concept called Eat That Frog, where you start your day by doing the most important thing that you need to do and I think it’s a saying by Mark Twain, I believe, where if you eat the frog at the beginning of your day, that’s the worst thing that you’ll have to do all day. You just kind of get it out of the way and I’m probably completely botching it. I’ll have to find it and send it to you but it really goes with the title of your show, You Are Not A Frog, but by starting with either your least favourite or the toughest or the most important thing and getting it out of the way, everything else will feel so much easier.
Rachel: Yeah, I can really see that. Say there’s that patient you got to contact that it’s going to be a really difficult consultation. If you’re just putting it off and off and off, or even replying to a difficult letter or something like that, it’s just hanging over and you’re dreading it, but you get it done and then, oh, the relief, then you can move onto other stuff.
Anna: Exactly. Rip off the band-aid and don’t let it hang over your head while you’re trying to do everything else.
Rachel: Yeah. Something that I found helpful as well is the 15-minute rule. Have you heard of that one?
Anna: Tell me about that.
Rachel: Well, that’s just a way of getting started on a project that you don’t really want to do. For me, it was a pension form. We have a nightmare with our pensions in the UK at the moment in the NHS and I needed to submit a form and somewhere, I need to resubmit a form and I didn’t know where to start or get the information from. I have been putting it off and putting it off and the 15-minute rule says, if there’s a task that you find really difficult, you don’t want to do, you set a timer for 15 minutes and you say, “I will do this for 15 minutes” and you do it and the timer goes off and you stop.
Now, 9 times out of 10, when you started to do it, by minute 14, you’re like, “Oh, that was easy. I’ve done it.” Or “I’ll just carry on for another five minutes” but if you sort of give that mental thing with yourself, the agreement there, “I’m going to stop after 15 minutes and I’ll do it again tomorrow if I need to” just gets you over that hurdle of procrastination. Honestly, I’ve used that so many times and it really helps even though I know what I’m doing to myself.
Anna: Oh, my goodness, I love that. I’ve never heard it called the 15-minute rule before but that makes so much sense, especially for big projects. That’s actually a huge recommendation for people who are starting a running habit and they want to train for a 5k or something like that. Instead of saying, “I’m going to train for a 5k,” “I’m going to run for five minutes” and if they get to that five minutes, they can stop and if they want to keep going, they can keep going.
Rachel: Yeah, and like I said, definitely stop. Yeah, great. What you’re suggesting is for these admin times, make yourself a checklist that you’re going to use each time. You don’t have to make a new checklist each time but just make one that you get out and you use and you follow and if possible, do the most difficult thing first.
Anna: Absolutely and before you know it, you’ll slip into it as if you’re on autopilot moving from task to task.
Rachel: Yeah. Any other suggestions?
Anna: Let’s see, I would say that in addition to making sure that you have your workflow set for admin time, that you set expectations with others who may want to steal your attention during admin time because that needs to be protected time so that you are using it for its set purpose. If that looks like you work from home and you’re telling your partner or you’re telling someone that you share your home with, “This is my admin time. I’m going to be in deep focus” just to give them that heads up.
Because when you’re not in a meeting, or when you’re not engaged with a patient, it can be very easy to let distractions creep in in the form of interruptions, in the form of notifications, and checking your social media, or ending up down a rabbit hole if you happen to be on your computer, which most of us are during our admin times. Setting expectations with others and really setting yourself up to create that environment of focus is what’s really going to help you make the most of that admin time.
Rachel: That makes a lot of sense I think. I guess the temptation is when a lot of doctors have to do, lots of people have to do extra admin in the evenings and at home and I think we end up not getting the best of both worlds because we think we’re like, “I want to sit with a family but I just have my laptop on and I’ll do it” and then, you’re not present with the family but you’re not present with your work and it just all feels rubbish and people want to interrupt you.
Of course, they do because they want a bit of your time and it just gets really frustrating and yes, it’s probably better to say, “I just need to go into this room for half an hour, get this done, then, I’m going to be with you.” I think what you said about distractions, often, we are our own worst enemies for that in terms of “Oh, let me just check that. Let me check my emails. I’ve got all these notifications pinging in on my phone.”
Anna: Right and we really are conditioned to respond and this goes back to prehistoric times when we were living in caveman tribes and this probably sounds crazy but it’s true. At that time, in order to survive, the community and the response to others in our tribe, essentially, was life or death because if you did not respond, if you did not participate, then you would be ostracised by your group and that would affect your opportunity for survival.
Now, despite the fact that technology has advanced, we live in an incredibly advanced society, we still have that internal, we still have that urge to respond anytime someone reaches out even though it’s not a life or death situation in many cases. My top recommendation for combating distractions during moments of focus is to have a notepad off to the side and I call this making a shiny things list.
A shiny things list because how often do we get distracted by something shiny that can completely derail our focus? As you are sitting down to do that admin time, as you are working through the agenda that you’ve created for yourself, when something off-topic pops into your head, say, “Oh, I think we’re out of toilet paper. I need to place an order” or “Oh, it’s my mom’s birthday next week. I need to make sure to call her.”
Instead of stopping in that moment to add a reminder to your calendar or place an order, you take that shiny thing that popped into your head and you write it down on that notepad next to where you’re working. Then, you get back to work, and then, at the end of your admin time, you’ve got a collection of shiny things. You’ve got your shiny things list and at that point, you can decide, “Okay, what needs to be dealt with now and what can be added to a list to tackle later?”
Rachel: I absolutely love that. I’m going to do that straight away. In fact, while you are saying that, I thought to myself, “Oh, gosh, yeah, I need to order a swimming costume. Because I’m going away in a couple of weeks.”
Anna: Exactly. Shiny things pop into our heads all the time and they have the potential to send us down a rabbit hole because we now have the technology to immediately take action on things even when it is not in our best interest.
Rachel: Yes, yes and that happens even when you’re in conversations with people. It drives me mad when we’re at… Family do seem to be the worst. We’re sitting there with all brothers and sisters or things like that and someone says something and someone’s like, “Right, I’ve got to check that. I’m going to look that up” but like, “No.” “I’m just checking.” “No, you don’t need to do that. You really don’t. Be here. Get off your phone.”
Anna: Exactly. Yeah, it’s that access that really can be to our detriment sometimes so make a shiny things list.
Rachel: Yeah, brilliant. Okay, so that is really helpful. So far, we’ve got make yourself a checklist with the same thing every time, make yourself a shiny things list. Anything else that you think might help us?
Anna: Oh, goodness, let’s see.
Rachel: I think one of the things that we all need to do is not just manage our admin time well, but it’s also getting rid of stuff. Get rid of stuff out of that admin time and I know that we’ve talked before about the importance of delegation. I know that is something that most doctors are pretty rubbish at. Are most people just rubbish at delegation?
Anna: Yeah, yeah so often, we feel that we can do things the best. We can do things the right way because we’re doing things our way. A lot of us struggle with perfectionism. It’s a fact of life for many of us. We want to create work product that we can be proud of, that we feel great about, and a lot of times, that results in us hoarding, holding on to tasks that we really should be letting go of in order to spend more time on those activities that we are truly the best at doing, where we are truly valued.
Rachel: That’s so true and we really need to learn to delegate. I always say that if you’re doing something that someone else in your organization on a lower pay grade perhaps or who has more time could do, you’re actually wasting money and you’re not focusing on those things that only you can do.
Rachel: I think a lot of the time, we just use the excuse of, “Well, there’s nobody else to do it. There’s nobody to delegate to.” and I think sometimes that is the case, but often, that’s not the case. Is that your experience?
Anna: I do, I do agree with you. It also very much depends on the professional setting but very often, there are things that can be delegated to others in our professional setting if we set that person up for success. You can’t just take a task and throw it to someone and say, “Here, do this now.” and expect them to be successful or to do it the way that you want them to do it.
It takes intentional delegation in order for it to be successful. I think that’s where so many people get tripped up, is that they have this idea that delegation is simply telling someone to do something when in reality, true delegation is understanding the task that needs to be done, understanding the process that it takes to complete the task, and then, essentially teaching, giving that person what they need in order to be successful at it.
There’s actually a phrase called ‘delegation by abdication,’ where so many people, their first or early attempts at delegation, just involve them throwing the task to someone else and saying, “Here, do this. Figure it out.” Then, they wonder why when that individual who has been delegated to, when mistakes are made, when it has not been done correctly, but the expectation was never set. The expectation was never communicated. What success looks like was never communicated.
Just like we talked about creating an agenda that is actually a written down captured agenda for your admin time, if there’s something within your work that you’re hoping to delegate, your best bet is to actually capture those steps into a workflow. If there’s something that you’re thinking, “I really would like to get this off of my plate,” there are different ways to identify the best things to get off of your plate.
But if you’ve decided, “I want to delegate this to someone else in the office,” next time, you start that task, grab a notepad or something, and capture each step. “Okay, how do I do this? First, I do this, then I do this, then I do this.” When you delegate, you’re able to give those steps to the person who will be taking on this task. That is empowering them, that’s setting them up for success instead of setting them up for failure.
Rachel: Now, I think this is the nub of why we find it hard to delegate because we don’t know how to get these workflows onto paper. What would you suggest? Would you suggest literally, it’s pen and paper write down every step? Or would you suggest we do it in a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet? How do we actually do it and what level of detail do you need?
Anna: Oh, that’s a great question. Well, it depends on the type of process that you are capturing. If the process is something that is completed on a computer, it absolutely makes sense to do a step and possibly capture it in a Word document. Do a step, capture it in a Word document. If you are accustomed to using something like a project management tool, Trello is one commonly used, Asana, there are many different options to capture that you can use to house workflows like this but if it’s something that you’re doing at a computer, at a desk, absolutely. Capture it step by step in a Word document type, Google Document Type place.
In terms of the level of detail, imagine that you’re explaining to your mom, how to do this task. Imagine that you are explaining to an intern, how to do this task. You want to use language that is going to be understood by the person who will be completing the task. You have to take that into account. On the flip side, if the task that you are aiming to delegate is something that has you up and moving, something that’s not done at a desk, this is a situation where you may want to have a clipboard.
For an entire day, you carry around this clipboard with everything else that I’m sure you have to carry around and you do a step and you jot down the notes so that you’re really capturing each step. Because a lot of times, when we are so used to doing these things ourselves, we put ourselves on autopilot and we move through the steps without thinking about them, but when you have to take time to write down the steps and make sure that there are no gaps present and that there are no assumptions that we’re asking someone to make, that really enables us to delegate in a much more holistic and a much more complete.
Rachel: That makes a lot of sense. I think when I’ve come a cropper with this, I realise it’s because I’ve made assumptions about what people… I would assume that they would know that was the right thing to put there without telling them or they should do this and I’m just thinking of doctors in their offices and stuff.
Something that has been really helpful for me when delegating is I have an assistant who, when they’re showing someone how to do something that she records a screen sort of capture, just go through the steps. If you’re doing something on a computer, there are lots of programs. You could literally just capture. Obviously, you have to be careful if you’ve patient confidentiality but use a test patient or something like that. Actually record your screen so that person can go back and watch what you’ve done.
Anna: Yes, that is such a great recommendation. Loom is an incredible program that you can use to record your screen and you can actually build a folder in your Google Drive or wherever you save files that is a collection of those recorded process videos. I love that you brought that up.
Rachel: That’s just something that I would never have thought of but I’ve seen it being used and it’s been used really, really effectively. Delegation really is about capturing your workflow, telling someone, be really specific about what they need to do, and then, I think, for me, it’s then being okay with things going slightly wrong or mistakes or being happy to check things in great detail before I let someone just go off and do it.
Anna: Absolutely. It’s recognising that there will be a learning period, there will very likely be mistakes made and the level of detail that you provide in the workflow that you give to the person that you are delegating to, that level of detail will determine what those mistakes will look like.
That’s something that you can think of as you are capturing your workflow is, “What’s the worst thing that could happen here? What’s the worst thing that could happen?” If you think through what’s that worst thing, you’re able to come up with a solution or a safety net that helps make that workflow and helps make that person being delegated to. It just increases their chances of success.
But at the same time, you also have to really consider, “Okay, is this a mistake or is this just not the way I would have done it? Is this a mistake or is this just my personal preference?” Because it’s if it’s a personal preference, just communicate the personal preference next time. If it’s a mistake, update the workflow to correct the mistake but just be cognizant, be aware of the fact that someone may do something slightly different from how you would do it but that doesn’t make it wrong and that doesn’t make it incorrect.
Rachel: Yeah, totally and that’s the biggest problem, isn’t it? They’ve not done exactly the same the way I’d have done it and it’s not exactly perfect but like you said, everyone makes mistakes so it could be a mistake, it could be a problem with the workflow, you haven’t been really clear, or it could be just not the way you want it.
I think the problem is when you’re in healthcare, there are some mistakes that are just really, really significant. It’s like you said, work out what the worst-case scenario would be and take steps to mitigate for that and make sure that that’s not going to happen. Delegation, really important. I know that when we’re talking before, you’re also talking about delegating outside of work and I think that’s something that we don’t do enough.
Anna: Yes, oh, my goodness, especially when you are a medical professional and your days are packed with appointments and meetings and clinics that you don’t necessarily have control of. Then, you’ve got these precious evening hours and these precious off-hours that you have to spend with family, friends, engaged in hobbies maybe, doing, spending time the way that you want to spend it, you don’t want all of those hours to be drained by housework or laundry or maybe meal prep.
We all have different things in the care and keeping of our homes and families that we love doing that bring us joy. I want to say, first of all, I would never encourage you to delegate something that you truly love doing. I have friends that feel such joy going to the grocery store and walking up and down the aisles and that is wonderful for them. That is not how I like to spend my time so I choose to outsource grocery shopping any opportunity that I have so that I have more time at home with my family.
When you have such precious off-hours, I would encourage you to be very creative and think through “What is it that I can delegate in my home and personal life in order to get my time back?” Some examples of that include, of course, outsourcing grocery shopping and delivery. I recently began outsourcing my laundry using a service here in the States called Hamper and have had amazing. I’ve just gotten so much time back that I’m not spending on folding baby clothes because they’re very small and there are a lot of them and children make a lot of laundry.
But could you outsource meal planning or prep? Could you outsource any pet grooming? I don’t know. Just, there are so many different amazing ways that we can get our time back by outsourcing our personal activities and responsibilities. Even something as simple as signing up for automatic bill pay is something that is an example of that automation and that outsourcing that gets your time back.
Rachel: Yeah, yeah, I think it’s so important, isn’t it? I’ve had some quite good experiences with. I actually quite like cooking but it’s the planning and it’s the shopping. It’s ordering these mailboxes that come with three or four ingredients in them that you don’t have to think about it. You can just choose the menu a couple of weeks before then they turn up. You can cook them and you’ve got nice fresh food but you don’t have to go shop, you don’t have to plan it. You don’t have to do that. I’ve really enjoyed doing that.
Anna: Yes, That actually sounds that sounds like a lot of fun. I think I would enjoy that. That’s one thing that we, as a family, have never jumped into, are the meal boxes. But oh my gosh, I think that would be so much fun because it really takes the pressure off that hard part.
Rachel: I’ll tell you what, hot tip here, the really good thing is if you have teenagers or people in your family that aren’t used to cooking and they say, “What’s for dinner tonight?” Well, you can say, “Choose one of the meals and you can cook it” and it’s actually got my teenagers cooking.
Anna: I love that! I love that.
Rachel: It teaches them. It’s very step by step and they’ve done it and they’ve been really proud of themselves and even my 10-year-old would cook a full meal for the family because it was step by step by step and all the ingredients were there.
Anna: How fun. Oh, I love that. Well, I have a two and a half-year-old and a six-month-old so I will let you know.
Rachel: I wouldn’t give it too soon. That’s probably not going to work, is it?
Anna: Probably not. I actually, just this past week, gave her a little plastic knife and taught her how to cut, how to slice her bananas so that’s about how far we’ve gotten.
Rachel: Very good, very good. I know, we’re nearly out of time but what I wanted to finish off with was asking you, because I know you mentioned this just a bit earlier about working out “What are the things that we should be doing and what shouldn’t we do?” Because we know that we have too much to do. We need to eliminate, automate, delegate. How do you know which ones you should keep and that only you should do and which ones you should either get rid of or delegate somebody else?
Anna: Oh, I love this question. One thing that I work with my time management coaching clients on is really zeroing in which activities fall within their zone of genius. Your zone of genius is at the intersection of passion and proficiency. These are the activities in your life, in your work, that you absolutely love doing. They set your soul on fire, you’re just your best self whenever you are doing these activities, and on top of that, you’re really good at them. You’re skilled at them, maybe you have a natural talent, maybe you’ve studied in order to build that proficiency, but those things in your genius zone are the things that you love doing and that you’re great at doing.
Those are the things that you need to hold on to and spend as much time as possible doing because those are the activities that are really going to allow you to shine and be your best self. What about everything else? Think of it in terms of passion and proficiency. What are those things that you are passionate about but you’re not so proficient at doing? Maybe they’re fun for you, they’re really good time wasters because they’re fun for you to do but you’re not that good at them so it takes you a lot longer. Anything that falls in that category, that part of the grid, high passion, low proficiency, that is something that needs to be delegated.
You look at the flip side, what are those things that you are incredibly proficient at doing but you have no passion for them? You’re good at them, how to do them, and you do it well, but they kind of suck all of the joy out of your soul. I have some things like that in my business. For example, creating graphics to promote my podcast. I’m really good at it but I don’t enjoy it. That is something that I am in the process of delegating because when you hang on to those things that even though you’re good at doing them, they kill your energy because you don’t enjoy doing them. That’s an example of something that you can delegate.
Then finally, things that are both you have zero passion for or very low passion for so you don’t like them and you are not very good at doing them so they take you a very long time, you tend to procrastinate on these things. Prime activities to be delegated, those things that you don’t like doing and you’re not good at them anyway.
Anytime you are evaluating your responsibilities and you’re thinking through each one, ask yourself, “How passionate am I about this and how proficient am I at this?” Once you’re able to answer that question, you, and I know you’re probably thinking, “Oh, I can already think of so many things that I’m not passionate about and that I’m not proficient at and let me get those off my plate” but really thinking through using that lens enables you to be very intentional about what you delegate.
It also enables you to prioritise delegation as well because you want to completely offload those things that you’re not good at and that you don’t enjoy so that can be where you start. Then, work your way into the other categories so that before long, you’re spending the majority of your time in that genius zone, doing that work that you love that you’re good at.
Rachel: I love that idea of actually yeah, starting off the stuff that you hate and you’re bad at, right? Delegate that stuff because with the best will in the world, no one’s ever going to be able to have a job where you’re only ever doing the stuff that you’re good at and you’re passionate about. In an ideal world, great, but actually, yes, the number one thing to delegate is the stuff that you’re bad at and you don’t like doing and then maybe workaround.
Yes, the stuff that you’re bad at, even if you enjoy doing, probably either have it as a hobby and so it doesn’t matter or delegate, and then, yes, for me, it’s the stuff that I’m good at but yeah, not particularly nice, giving not much energy. That’s the difficult stuff to delegate because I know I’m good at it and sometimes, people don’t do it as well as I will but, but, but, but but but, if I want my time back, remember the zone of genius.
Anna: Think about what it’s keeping you from doing. Anytime you are doing that thing that you’re good at and you’re trudging your way through it, that’s time that you could be spending in your genius zone. Very often, I find that when people really start to look at their work responsibilities through the lens of passion and proficiency, they realise that it’s time for a job change.
They realise that very, that a high percentage of what they do day to day does not fall in their genius zone and it really causes them to get their wheels turning about, “Well, what would be in my genius zone? What kind of career would really enable me to spend more time there? Is it changing my speciality? Is it going back and getting an additional degree?”
It can open up so much awareness about what you enjoy and how you’re spending your time and how you want to spend that time. We only have one life, we’ve only got one shot at this, and we want to spend it doing what matters most. We want to look back on a life with no regrets and that starts day by day by managing your time well and being a good steward of that time that we’re given.
Rachel: Oh, wow, fantastic advice. Thank you. In a second, I’m going to ask you for your top three tips. While you’re sort of thinking of that, I think it’s probably just worth saying I love this idea about your genius zone and I think I would encourage the listeners as well, not just to apply that to life at work but, but apply that to life outside of work as well. Do you spend a lot of time outside of work doing things that aren’t really a part of your genius zone, feeling that we ought to, feeling a bit guilty?
I think, like you said, life is too short. We need to make those choices and doing stuff that we’re good at and we’re passionate about, really, really important so thank you, thank you for that. I’m going to make my little list of things that are in my zone of genius in a little while but before we go, what would you, out of everything we talked about, what would you say are your top three tips are that you would be giving to people?
Anna: This is going to possibly have you scratching your head and thinking, “Wait, how is this time management advice?” I wholeheartedly believe, I fully believe that time management begins with heart management. Until you get crystal clear on what truly matters most to you, you can’t begin to effectively create a calendar or schedule or manage your time. If you are someone who truly wants to begin managing your time, stewarding your time better, my first recommendation for you, my first tip would be to sit down and write out a vision for the future.
What is that life that you want to create for yourself? What is that experience that you want to have? What is your vision for the future? Because so often, when we live day by day, we’re only putting one foot in front of us and we’re just getting to the next thing and we’re not thinking about those long term goals and dreams and aspirations that we have for ourselves. After you take time to create that vision for yourself, my next recommendation would be to set goals.
Set goals because again, having goals, whether those goals are financial goals or they are setting a goal to go on a vacation or to reach a new level, the next level in your career, when you have those goals in mind, you know how to spend your day. You have so much more clarity around how to spend your day because you’re always able to look at your goals and ask yourself, “This decision that I’m making about how to spend my time, is this in alignment with my goals that is going to help me achieve that vision that I’ve created for myself?”
Then, my third tip, you’ve got your vision, you’ve got your goals, my third tip would be to articulate your core values. Articulate your core values, the five to seven words that represent what you believe in, what’s important to you, how you want to spend your time, how you want to be remembered. Because when you know, without a doubt, what those five to seven core values are, you can use those as a decision-making tool, as a lens, as a North Star whenever you are deciding how to spend your time, whenever you have new opportunities.
Whenever you have a decision to make, you can look at those core values and think, “Is this in alignment with what matters most to me?” If it’s a yes, go for it. If it’s not, it’s not worth your time. Starting with a vision, making sure that you have goals in place, and knowing your core values, those are my top three tips for managing your time well.
Rachel: Oh, brilliant, Anna. Thank you, that is just tremendous and those tips will be all in the show notes as well and I’ll make available to all the listeners. If you want to, there’s a download of the Thrive Week Planner which is a simple tool I’ve created that people can actually create what an ideal week looks like for them, and then, compare that to their current week and maybe look at what will change for them. Thank you so much for being with us. That has just been absolutely brilliant. Anna, if people want to get hold of you, how can they do that?
Anna: Sure. Well, I would first invite you to tune in to It’s About Time, my podcast sharing stories and strategies to inspire better work-life balance. You can tune in wherever you listen to podcasts. I have a new episode that drops every single Monday, and if you’re on Instagram, I would love to be friends. Come give me a follow on Instagram. If you have time management, productivity questions, please send them my way. It would give me so much joy to talk with you over on Instagram.
Rachel: Brilliant and we’ll put all those links in the show notes so people can find you. Anna, that’s great. I think I’m going to have to get you back on another time. Will you come back again?
Anna: I would be so honoured. Thank you so much!
Rachel: Thank you and speak soon.
Anna: Thank you.