Want to be more productive? Let go.

It’s an attitude

I have a friend who I admire very, very much. He’s a senior partner at a large law firm. He’s worked at the firm for many years. Our sons played Little League baseball and other sports together. And he was there for every event. He coached. He cheered. He rarely missed a game. And yet he rose to be extremely successful.

Is my friend so smart? Oh, he’s smart. But frankly (and I’m sure he’ll agree with me) he’s really no smarter than many people I know. He’s just more productive. In fact, he’s one of the most productive people I know. How else can he be so successful at work, yet still have enough balance to spend time with all of his kids and his wife of more than 20 years?

He knows how to use his brains the right way. Here’s what he does:

He delegates.

Sure he works hard. He gets up early. He stays late when he has to. He emails and he texts. He’s extremely organized and efficient. He’s all of that. And that’s important if you want to be productive. But there’s being busy and then there’s being productive.

Productive people are the ones who get the most done with the resources they have. This is why CEOs and senior partners of large law firms are paid so well — they’re talented at moving dozens, hundreds, thousands of people in the direction they want. This is how my friend does it.

He delegates.

He’s not afraid to hand over important work or a beloved client to someone else. He knows that to get more done, more people need to get involved. He knows that if he wants to be at his son’s baseball game, someone else is going to have to get the work done for him. He is willing to incur the costs of that person, to share the profits, to give up some control. He’s prepared for mistakes to be made (and they will be made). He makes himself completely available to answer questions and be there if any bigger issues come up. He coaches, he mentors, he counsels and all this to grow that younger, less experienced person into someone more productive and valuable for his firm… and for him.

Technology helps

Of course there’s some technology involved. I mentioned email and texting. But this is 2015 and today’s companies, my friend’s firm included, rely on collaboration tools like Office 365 to get more stuff done in the same amount of time. They share client data in a hosted database. They use an online word document and spreadsheet platform. They save documents to cloud-based storage locations. They do video calls and take advantage of mobile applications when necessary. All of this is important for the business owner and manager.

But those are just tools. And productivity is not about tools. It’s about an attitude. And my friend, the successful senior partner at a large law firm, has the productivity attitude. It begins and ends with only one question: “Who’s going to do this for me?”

My friend has a busy schedule. He has meetings. Client visits. An occasional case. And don’t forget those Little League baseball games! When things come up he doesn’t sigh and wonder how it’s all going to get done. Instead, he immediately thinks “who’s going to do this for me?”  He’s not avoiding the responsibility. He’s not shirking work. He’s moving the task to someone who can get the job done, without relinquishing his responsibility or ownership. My friend believes that other people make him more productive. And in turn, they make his business more profitable.

So, do you want to be productive?

Then focus on what you do best — and delegate the rest! Surround yourself with capable individuals who can get the work done for you. Don’t be afraid to incur the cost or share the profits because the more that gets competently accomplished, the more profits there will be for all.

Gene Marks
Gene Marks writes a daily column for the Washington Post on business and public policy. He also writes weekly for Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and periodically for The Huffington Post and Foxbusiness.com. Gene also regularly appears on Fox News, MSNBC, Sirius XM Radio and ABC radio. His work reaches hundreds of thousands of business owners and executives each week. Gene is a Certified Public Accountant and runs the Marks Group PC - a 10-person technology and management consulting firm located near Philadelphia. He spent nine years with the international firm KPMG, most recently as Senior Manager. Gene speaks frequently to business groups so they can better understand the trends affecting their businesses and - most importantly - the actions they should take to continue to grow and profit. http://www.genemarks.com/