What is ODAE and How Can It Improve Your Productivity?

A few years back, I came up with an acronym called ODAE, which stands for Outsource, Delegate, Automate, and Eliminate.

The idea behind ODAE is simple: you’re likely doing too much, and there are tasks you’re doing that don’t necessarily need to be done by you.

For example, you hate working with spreadsheets, but you know someone on your team, like your coworker Susie, loves them. Susie would be thrilled to help you create a spreadsheet if you asked her. This is where the ODAE Method comes in handy.

So, how can you use the ODAE Method to get more done and be more productive?

The first letter, O, stands for Outsource, and the second, D, stands for Delegate. While outsourcing typically involves hiring another company, delegation can be done within your team, department, or company.

When you outsource or delegate a task, you’re likely to get it done more efficiently and effectively than if you did it yourself. This also frees up your time to focus on other things that are more important and valuable to your business.

As a solopreneur or a small business owner, trying to do everything yourself is common. However, there are tasks that you may not be the best fit for, and it’s important to recognize that and delegate them to others who are more skilled in those areas. For instance, if you’re good at sales and marketing, you should focus on that instead of spending time on administrative tasks like spreadsheet creation.

The following letter in the ODAE Method is A, which stands for Automate. Technological advancements can automate many tasks to save you time and effort. Take advantage of tools and software that can automate repetitive tasks like email automation, social media scheduling, or data entry. By automating these tasks, you can free up your time to focus on more strategic and high-value activities.

The final letter in the ODAE Method is E, which stands for Eliminate. We often find ourselves doing tasks without knowing why we’re doing them. It could be because “we’ve always done it this way” or “this is how I was trained.” It’s essential to question the necessity of these tasks and eliminate them if they are not adding value to your work. For example, suppose you’re creating a report that nobody ever looks at. In that case, it’s time to question its relevance and eliminate it from your to-do list.

Here’s how you can implement the ODAE Method:

  1. Write down everything you do at work for several days without judging or editing. Bonus points if you note how long each task takes.
  2. Set the list aside for a day and then block off 60 to 90 minutes on your calendar to review the list.
  3. Go through the list one item at a time and ask yourself if each task can be outsourced, delegated, automated, or eliminated. Mark each task with the corresponding letter (O, D, A, or E).
  4. Once you’ve identified tasks that can be outsourced, delegated, automated, or eliminated, take action accordingly. Outsource tasks to external providers, delegate tasks to appropriate team members, automate tasks using technology, and eliminate unnecessary or redundant tasks.
  5. Be cautious not to fill up the freed-up time with new tasks that could be outsourced, delegated, automated, or eliminated. The goal of the ODAE Method is to free up your time to focus on tasks that are most important and valuable to your work.