Resolution: Learn to Delegate!

Is there a ‘right’ way to load a dishwasher? How about a ‘right’ way to take out the trash or fold the laundry?

If you believe that there is a ‘right way to do things’ and worse, that, ‘to get it done right, I have to do it myself,’ this is for you! The vast majority of women (more than 80%) agree with the aforementioned statements, which means that most women have a thing or two to learn about the fine art of delegating. Given the preponderance of columns, expert advice and literature about the same issue aimed at men, we’re guessing they could use some help with it too. It’s a tough skill to master, but it is absolutely fundamental to getting ‘Buttoned Up.’ So if you’ve ever said ‘I could use a few more hours in the day,’ read on!

Alicia on ‘Getting Leverage!’

‘Although it is difficult to do well, delegation is the single, most effective tool for getting more accomplished in less time. In fact, it’s really the only sustainable way to do so. Simply defined, it is the act of empowering others to do something on your behalf. When done well, it gives you leverage. In other words, it will help you complete more activities in a shorter amount of time, and probably more effectively (read — better) than you could by yourself. In effect, enlisting the help of others is like adding more hours to your day.’

Sarah on ‘Signs You Might Need Help’

‘If the benefits of delegating are substantial, the hazards of trying to do it all yourself are equally so. The most common side effect of carrying too big a load is burnout, which makes you feel just wrung out and awful. The first clue that I need to take things off my plate is my alarm clock. When I start setting it earlier and earlier so I have time to cross everything off my list and still get some exercise a few days a week, it’s a signal to me that I need to delegate something (or some things).’

Three ideas that will help you get better at delegating in 2007.

#1: Add it Up
List all the tasks you currently do, but could to delegate to another person. Then consider this, if you were able to assign one or two tasks that collectively consumed 15 minutes a day to another person, you would gain an extra 91 hours a year! On a more modest scale, that means you’d gain an extra 1hr 45min per week. How you might use that extra time to do something you really want or need to do?

#2: Switch it Up
Ask the person to whom you’d like to delegate a task (most often, your spouse) for a few minutes of their time. Ask them delegate to you a simple household task that they currently do, such as getting the newspaper in the morning, taking out the trash, or even hanging up their wet towel after a morning shower. The following day, do this task for them. Then, ask yourself the following:

  • How does this person like to be asked to do things?
  • Were the directions and desired outcomes simple and straightforward?
  • Was I left alone to complete the task without being nagged?
  • How did I feel about being delegated to? What did I like?

The answers offer a window into how the person likes to be ‘managed’ and how it feels to be delegated to. These insights may help you to delegate in a way that is more likely to lead to a successful outcome for everyone.

#3: Give it Up
Take one task and delegate it today. Articulate the desired outcome, be specific about the details, negotiate if needed, get agreement from the other person, and let go. When they’re done, be sure to give constructive (and hopefully a lot of positive) feedback to the person.