The problem: You have an incomplete but Important Project that, when finished, will boost your company’s ROI exponentially.

The other problem: This Important Project requires your top knowledge workers, but they’re all swamped pleasing clients you need to keep.

The obvious solution: Free up the top workers. Duh. No can do. You feel stuck.

The real solution: Get unstuck by — ironically — freeing up your top workers.

Here’s how to do that, according to the Harvard Business Review:

Get your workers to delegate. Knowledge workers, on average, spend 41% of their time on tasks that other, less qualified people could do. These top workers tend to hang on to this work because it helps them feel secure, needed, and important. Motivate them to kick this work down the chain so you can use their expensive time to complete the Important Project.

Cut down the meetings. Top workers go to more meetings than they need to. For one thing, meetings provide social opportunities. Help them see that working on the team of the Important Project is a social activity with the bonus of a real result: making more money for the company.

Emphasize the just-say-no strategy. When your top workers receive new assignments, have them ask: Am I the only one/ best one to do this? Does this make money for the company? If the answer is “no,” the worker turns down the assignment before becoming entangled in it.

Manage the freed-up time carefully. So, let’s say your top workers manage to squeeze out an extra 10 hours per week for the Important Project. That’s a huge win! Now they have to ride herd on those hours so the time doesn’t slip away putting out fires, handling “emergencies,” etc.

Send out an edict. This is a tactic most administrators try to avoid, but it can work. “On Fridays we work only on the Important Project.” “The workspace for the Important Project has no phones, cell phones, or IMs on the computers.” Workers accept edicts best if they accompany a reward of some kind. “You can telecommute on Tuesdays.”

These are just a few ideas that experts have studied, measured, and recommended. That doesn’t mean this is all there is; here are a few more.

Of course, we at Padron Marketing have even more tricks up our sleeves, so don’t hesitate to contact us. Sometimes putting specialists to work for you can free up your top workers to complete that Important Project.

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