“There will always be 20 things that you’re not doing,” says Srujal Sheth in this video featured on Forbes. Srujal is President and CEO of Vana Solutions, an information technology services company headquartered in Dayton, Ohio. “Either they go away, or you ask somebody else, or you get your team to do it,” she says.

Learn to Delegate Successfully

Laura Stack, an award-winning productivity expert and bestselling author who provides training and speeches on productivity and time management, agrees that delegation is a powerful tool business owners must take advantage of.

“Most tasks should be delegated or outsourced properly, depending on the task and the level of the employee,” says Laura. “For example, delegating a low-dollar task like photocopying or fixing a computer to a highly-trained, highly-paid software engineer would be foolhardy.” Another example: business owners who are scheduling their own meetings on a regular basis.

The rule to follow: if a task wastes valuable time and salary, a business owner shouldn’t be doing it. 

“Yes, business owners could do it, but you are throwing money away if there is a low Personal Return on Investment (or PROI) in doing it yourself,” explains Laura. “The next time you consider assigning tasks to team members, think about what they should be doing with their time—as opposed to what would be a waste of time for them. If the task doesn’t fit, delegate it, outsource it, eliminate it—or just learn to be satisfied with mediocrity.”

Focus On What Only You Can Do

Sometimes delegation requires a mindset shift—or two. Many business owners looking to improve their productivity continue to do things they can do, versus things they should do.  

“Delegate tasks to others who can do them better, cheaper, or more easily,” she says. “This leaves me free to focus on what I do best: client acquisition, brand-building, and content-creating. It’s my job to get rid of anything that doesn’t fall under one of these three ‘buckets.’”

Business owners owe it to their team to focus solely on what only they can do. “I could edit my company newsletter, but I shouldn’t. I could package products for mailing, but I shouldn’t. In fact, I believe it’s a disservice to my company and my employees if I do tasks that fall outside these three buckets, because I’m not spending time on tasks that pays their salaries.”

Laura says every employee should have the kind of clarity it takes to be able to say, “That’s not an activity that is going to help to grow the company and here’s why.” “My staff each has ‘three buckets,’ like me, and I want to hear, ‘That’s not my job’ frequently, so I can make better choices around their use of time,” she says. 

Work Harder, Smarter & Savvier

Many have heard the advice, “Work smarter, not harder.” Laura’s career has been dedicated to helping people find ways to get more work done in less time, but she says that the truth is there is no real harder-smarter dichotomy. When you really want to succeed, you have to work both harder and smarter: “You put both into action to maximize your performance. Just working smarter won’t cut it, except in specific situations,” she explains.

“I live in Denver, Colorado—practically at the foot of the Rocky Mountains—and I don’t ski,” she says. “To me, it’s a waste of time and money. I’m not really good at it, don’t enjoy the cold, and always get banged up.” She knows she could improve at skiing, but it would be costly and time-intensive.

“So why be mediocre? On the other hand, I like running, and it comes easily to me, so I focus on that instead,” she says. Laura explains this reflects the secret of the top, most productive business owners: they tend to limit their excellence to just a few things.

“Work hard at the things you’re uniquely qualified to do that no one else can—that’s smart.”

Ready to Increase Productivity in Your Organization?

Learn how to apply professional management to your business using core concepts from Deming at the Leading with a Systems View Workshop. Through small-group breakouts, work sessions, and discussion, you’ll develop a systems view of your organization and see how you can improve effectiveness through increased productivity, reduced costs, and accelerated growth and innovation.