How to Reclaim Your Time with the “Oh Sh*t” List

W5 Oh Shit! List

John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Business owners are busy people.

Many of my clients come to me feeling overwhelmed and overloaded with all of the things they need to do.

“I have too much to do – and not enough time to do it.” ~ just about every client I’ve ever worked with

If you feel like you’re being pulled in all directions and your task list never ends, I wrote this article for you!

Scroll down to read, or watch the video!

How are you spending your time?

The first thing I suggest my time-starved clients do is a time audit, followed by a skill/fun box exercise.

In a time audit, you meticulously track your activities, ideally every 15 minutes, for a period of one or two weeks.

This practice isn’t just about recording what you do – it’s also an exercise in mindfulness and decision-making.

It helps you pinpoint which tasks produce value – the ones that only YOU can do – and which tasks can be delegated, outsourced, or automated.

It’s a useful exercise and I highly recommend it.

But it can be a bit tedious to do.

So, I have a bit of a hack.

Enter the “Oh Sh*t” List.

As you go about your day, you’ll inevitably encounter tasks that trigger a mental “Oh, sh*t” as you approach them.

These are the tasks that you dread – often because they are tedious, or lonely, or outside your skill set, or simply unenjoyable.

They are the tasks that sap your energy and offer little in return regarding personal satisfaction or business value.

Your “oh, sh*t” response is your intuition telling you that these tasks are a place where you can get leverage.

Using Delegation as a Tool for Leverage

Consider the economics of delegation.

When you’re doing the highest value work in your business, how much is it worth?

Most tradespeople and professionals bill out at least $200/hour.

If your highest value work is worth $200 an hour, does it make sense to spend your time on tasks that could be accomplished by someone else for $15 or $20 an hour?

Even if you’re paying an intern or apprentice $50/hour, you’re still coming out ahead.

And the people you’re delegating to will enjoy the work and do a better job of it.

As your business grows, your role will change.

Delegating lower-value tasks frees up your time to focus on work that is more valuable, profitable, and fulfilling.

Many of the clients I’ve worked with have doubled, tripled, or 10xed their business.

To do so, they needed to evolve their roles from hands-on managers to strategic leaders, directing teams that handle the day-to-day operations.

I recall one client who grew very quickly.

When we began working together, she was a solopreneur, but because she was good at sales, her business took off.

Every three months, we evaluated her role and redefined her job description.

She started by hiring people to deliver the services and look after administrivia while she focused on sales and managed her team.

Then she hired team leaders and people to do the marketing.

Then finally, she hired salespeople.

This left her with the role of CEO – providing leadership and strategically creating value. She could now run her business remotely, leading a team who did all the work of the business.

Your challenge: free up 5 hours each week

You probably have five to seven hours’ worth of work every week that you shouldn’t do any more.

When faced with tasks on your “Oh Sh*t” List, shift your questioning from “How can I get this done?” to “How can this get done?”

This subtle change in perspective can help you come up with solutions that involve someone else’s capabilities and time – instead of your own.

I challenge you to find five hours that you can pay someone else $20 to do.

It would cost you $100 to free up that time.

Then you can leverage it to produce $1,000.

Or maybe you’d rather use it to get your life back – to go to one of your kids’ games or be home on time for dinner.

You can make a choice.

You’ll also discover that your state of mind and well being are way better – because you’re not doing that work that caused you to say, “oh sh*t!”

Ready to take your business to the next level? Book a call to see if coaching is right for you: book a call with John

Free E-Book: Ultimate Guide to Time Management and Productivity

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How to escape overwhelm and gain time freedom in your business

This guide includes my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Get control of your email and calendar
  • Prioritize your most important tasks
  • Become more productive than you ever thought possible

Ready to free up 5-7 hours per week? Download this guide today!

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