Don’t Do It All: Delegate!

January 23, 2009 by Rose Cook

delegateWork deadlines, home projects, doctor appointments, soccer games, dance practice.  We are all so very busy with work and life. How do we fit everything in?  Well, we just can’t add hours to the day.  Plus, giving up sleep isn’t such a good idea.  So, we need another approach.  Don’t do it all:  Delegate!

Whether it’s at work or at home, there are options waiting to be explored.  First things first – we need to learn to relinquish a little control.  OK, admit it.  Some of us are control freaks.  (I’m no exception, but I’m learning to let go.  Owning your own business will do that to you.).  We can be our own worst enemies this way.  
Say it’s your child’s birthday at school.  Homemade cupcakes?  Not necessary unless you’re feeling particularly inspired.  Take little Johnny with you to pick something out at the bakery aisle or even go for his favorite Oreos this year.  Your child’s teacher won’t think less of you.  She’s a working parent too!  Now you’ve just delegated baking to your local supermarket.  Congratulations.  Better yet, delegate this task to your spouse every now and then too.  
And then there’s work at the office.  How can I delegate, you say.  Everyone one else is so busy too!  Yes, this is true.  But, delegating doesn’t have to be dumping.  Give some thought to your own tasks and responsibilities.  Is there something you could let go that could be a good learning opportunity for a peer or a less senior employee?  Mundane and repetitive for you could be new ground for someone else wanting to learn a new skill.  Budgets due?  Ask a direct report to compile the numbers.  They get budgeting experience and you get a completed spreadsheet.  Voila!
OK, back to the home front.  No reason the kids can’t do their own laundry or put it away at least.  It’s amazing how fast my guys get their clothes put away when they’re dying to go outside or play the latest Wii game.  It also teaches them lifelong skills they’ll take with them to college and their own homes someday.  Amazingly it builds their self-confidence too, even if they grumble a little along the way.
Now for the big stuff at work and home, your delegation approach might be a little different.  Take housecleaning or lawn care.  Sometimes it’s worth it to pay for these services, especially if it allows you to spend time doing something else worthwhile.  It might not be done to your own standards of perfection.  But, remember, we’re learning to let go, right?
Another big project just got added at work, what’s a person with an already full plate to do?  Sometimes it may make sense to hire out some help here too.  Nowadays, you can get professional staff on a temporary/contract basis.  Seasoned professionals with lots of experience that can help you tackle those added projects for 3 months, 6 months, a year or two.  It’s not just administrative and clerical help like it used to be in the past.  
So, give it a try.  Delegate a few things this week.  I guarantee you’ll find it liberating and then you might even be able to squeeze in a workout or a good book.

-Rose Cook, FlexPro CEO

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