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Discovering the Joys of Delegating

Remember that old maxim, "If you want something done right, do it yourself"? Yes, that saying holds some truth. However, by doing it all yourself, you quickly discover that your stress level shoots skyward. Delegating tasks and responsibilities can save you time and spare you a great deal of stress.

You may have a problem delegating for several reasons. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • You believe that no one else is competent enough to do the task.
  • You believe that no one else really understands the problem the way you do.
  • You believe that no one else is motivated quite the way you are.
  • You don't trust anyone else to be able to manage the responsibilities.

All these reasons can hold some truth. However, in many cases, these reasons aren't accurate at all. The reality is that other people can be taught. The level of work that others can bring to a task or responsibility may pleasantly surprise you.

Even if you're right and others don't do the job as well as you do, you're probably still better off delegating than taking on everything yourself and feeling incredibly stressed.

The fine art of delegating

You may be from the "Do this, and have it on my desk by tomorrow morning!" school of delegating. Here are some tips to help you delegate more effectively:

  • Find the right person. Make sure that your delegates have the knowledge and skills to do the tasks asked of them. If you can't find a person who has the knowledge and skills, consider investing the time in training someone. In the longer run, you'll be ahead of the game.
  • Package your request for help in positive terms. Tell the person why you selected him or her. Offer a genuine compliment reflecting that you recognize some ability or competence that makes that person right for the job.
  • Be appreciative of their time. Recognize that you're aware that the person has his or her own work to do, but that you would really be grateful if he or she could help you with this task.
  • Don't micromanage. After you assign a task and carefully explain what needs to be done, let the person do it. Keep your hands off unless you clearly see that things are taking a wrong turn.
  • Reward the effort. If the person did a good job, say so. In addition, if he or she didn't do it quite the way you would have but put a lot of effort into the task, let him or her know that you appreciate the effort.

Delegating begins at home

You may associate the word delegating with working in an office and handing off a project to an associate or assistant. However, delegating tasks and duties at home is a major way to save a lot of time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Let one and all share in the fun. Everyone in the family (assuming that he or she is old enough to walk and talk) can, and should, have a role in sharing household duties and responsibilities.
  • Start with a list. Divvy up those less-desirable chores, such as washing dishes (or putting them in the dishwasher), doing laundry, cleaning up bedrooms, taking out the trash, and emptying the dishwasher.
  • Start small. Don't overwhelm your family right off the bat. Give them one or two assignments and then add on as appropriate.
  • Don't feel guilty. In the long run, your family will come to value the experience. (Recognize that it may be a very long run, however.)
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