Time Bandits

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

Where does the day go?

The time bandits steal them.

No, not the ones from the 1981 Terry Gilliam film (a personal fave), where a young boy joins a band of time-travelling dwarves looking for treasure to steal.

Time bandits, like client interruptions.

Questions from staff.

Tech glitches.

Activity that eats away at good, solid focus time to work on bigger-picture strategy for your business.

I was talking to the owner of an audio engineering business who complained,

I have good processes, but no time to write them down!

It’s a Catch-22, isn’t it? You don’t have time to document processes because you’re so busy answering employee questions.

And you’re so busy answering employee questions because you don’t have anything written down in an operations manual.

It’s dangerous place to be in, too. If any of your employees or freelancers left your business, everything they know and do could walk out the door with them.

So how do you break the cycle?

  1. Block out an hour. Put a reminder on your calendar. Turn off your phone. Set out the Do Not Disturb sign.
  2. Choose repeat tasks, or information everyone needs. These include brand vision and consistency, office and admin procedures, business basics/how-to lists, policy documents required by law or for additional business security, emergency procedures.
  3. Commit. Document just one thing each week. At the end of the year, you’ll have 52 processes.
  4. Enlist your team. They do stuff too. Let them document what they do. You may find that after they see it in black-and-white, they’ll have innovative ideas for how to improve.
  5. Use a “third-party judge” test. As a lawyer, I used this with contracts. Would an outside judge reading this contract really understand what the parties wanted? Likewise, would someone outside your company really understand how you want the task performed?
  6. Find a home for the information. Where will you keep it so everyone can access it? There are a lot of SaaS and other options out there. The right approach for you depends on your industry and business size.

Aryn, an event planner colleague, says, The days go by slow, but the years go by fast.

A year from now, don’t wish you had started to fight off those time bandits today.

Enlist an accountability partner now so you have momentum in your business later.

That’s me.

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