The luxury of help

I recently made a recommendation that a client take on some extra administrative help. The response was a similar one to those I've heard countless times before, that this kind of help, a personal assistant perhaps, or an office manager, is a luxury, something for big corporates, or an idea to be explored in the future, when the landscape is more profitable and cashflow is better - certainly not relevant now.

If you're in business you may well sympathise with this position. We've probably all attempted to micro manage our way through tight periods at one stage or another. But why do we cling on to things in this way? Maybe we believe that it would take longer to delegate tasks than to do them ourselves, or worse, that we're the only ones who can do what we do.

But in thinking about it some more, I believe that, actually, not hiring help is the real luxury.

A business leader's responsibility is to spend their time maximising returns for the organisation. If they are not using their resources on projects that will yield significant results they are missing the fundamental aspects of the role. Yet so many of us find ourselves sucked into the daily grid, fighting small battles in the trenches. Analysing how we spend our time through methods such as the 100 block system can be a fascinating insight into just how strategic we're really being.

Busyness is a sign of a lack of focus.

I frequently reflect on my day and believe I've been super productive because I've been busy from start to finish - responding to emails, attending meetings, taking calls. . . . promising things.

Yet it's a dangerous belief to hold. I wonder sometimes if I enjoy the rush of activity, the thrill of interaction and the feeling of importance and being in demand. How much progress did I really make that day? Perhaps we're all like this to some extent.

An addiction to the action seriously prevents us from getting important strategic stuff done. Our most impressive work normally comes from ideas and projects we ourselves initiate and less so when someone else makes demands of us and sets the rules.

So what can we do? Get help!! If you already have access to this resource, move every single responsibility that does not allow you to think and plan off your desk immediately. Develop the infrastructure (through communication, training, technology) to empower your support to act on your behalf and represent you accordingly. If you don't have this resource, start interviewing. Do you really have the comfort of continuing without it?

Taking on help is a sign of valuing your time appropriately.

It isn't just in business that we should apply these concepts. They apply in our private lives too. In many domestic settings many of us already prioritise in this way; hiring a babysitter or a cleaner are both common examples of sensible delegation that enables us to attend to bigger priorities.

So, whether we are managing large teams, or simply trying to steer ourselves towards our personal goals, how many of us are seriously seeking to own our own time? Have we perhaps got it the wrong way around, believing that freeing yourself up is the luxury?

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