I am a sole proprietor. I have no employees, no spouse or partner, and no children. My cats are not amenable to doing paperwork or housework.
That means delegation is not an option for me. So, how does one handle being the only person in a business? Here are some of my ideas.
1. Use the 30-Second Rule
If you can take care of something in 30 seconds or less (okay, I cheat and give myself two minutes), just do it. Then you can dismiss the item from your mind, your desk, and your "to do" list. The 30-second rule keeps me sane on days when I feel like I'm being overwhelmed with minor requests.
2. Kill Two Birds with One Stone
Set aside one day a week and run all of your errands on the designated day. Keep a list of office supplies and groceries and buy them all at once. Or better yet, order them and have them delivered to your door. Get 90-day supplies of medication instead of 30. Keep a list of birthdays and special events coming up and buy presents and cards once every three months. The more similar tasks you can bundle together, the more efficient you will be.
3. Schedule Routine Tasks
Set aside an hour or so a week to pay bills, write letters or cards, prepare meals for the next week, send invoices, neaten your office space, or do any other tasks that always seem to be getting in your way. It's amazing how quickly they come under control once you've blocked out a certain time to take care of them.
Right now, my living room carpet looks as if it hasn't been vacuumed in a month. There's a really good reason for that: it hasn't. I've had a lot of clients requesting quick turnaround projects as well as a lot of other assignments. Those have been my priorities. Frankly, my living room rug is pretty low on the list. It's okay to let non-essential tasks slide while you see to your business.
5. Consider Hiring Assistance
Sometimes, it actually makes more sense to hire help than to do a task yourself. For instance, I'm terrible at figuring out my taxes. It takes hours of my time, and no matter how careful I think I'm being, I usually screw them up, anyway and end up owing the IRS interest as well as my original taxes. It makes more sense for me to hire a bookkeeper who knows what she is doing than to try to figure it out for myself.
One of my friends who hates cleaning justified hiring a cleaning service in much the same way. His going rate is $75 per hour, and it takes him about three hours to get his home clean. A local housecleaning service costs $65 per cleaning and can usually do the work in less than an hour. This means hiring a housekeeper saves him $160 to have his home cleaned and focus his attention on his writing.
Do you delegate? If so, to whom?