Thursday, February 11, 2010

28 Days To Living Organized - Day 11 - Email: Delegate

28 Days to Living Organized

Email: Delegate

I love the idea of delegating.  Doesn't everyone?  Giving something to someone else to take care of and taking work off of my own shoulders sounds wonderful.

But how many of us love the reality of it?  How many of us can really let go and entrust this sacred responsibility (or menial task) to another person over whom we have no control.

We worry: will they do it right?  will it get done on time?  maybe I should just walk them through how to do it first?

In some cases these concerns may be reasonable.  And if you really have reason to question if something will be done right or on time by someone else and it's important it be done right and on time then hesitate to delegate. 

But delegating can be a wonderful tool in the arsenal of all of us - whether in the workplace or at home.  In both situations allowing someone else to help us carry our burden will do two things - 1. it will free up some of our time and energy for things that are a better use of those resources and 2. it will allow the other person some experience in the process.

What should I delegate?
Routine activities that anyone can do.  In the home environment, maybe your children can take over some tasks, like having your teenager research vacation destination options or asking your elementary school aged children to respond to party invitations for themselves by calling their friend.

Anything that someone else is better at.  You love balancing the budget and filling out the tax forms (wierd, yes but some people are good at it).  Then don't delegate it.  But you are not so good at lawn maintenance.  Ask your spouse to make the follow-up arrangements with the lawn-care service.

Don't Delegate....
* Anything you can delete.  If something doesn't need to be done by you, it probably doesn't need to be done by anyone else.
* Anything for which you are critically invested in the outcome.  You are planning your daughter's 1st birthday party and want everything "just so."  This is not a good time to ask your spouse to pick out invitations or party favors.

How do I delegate?
We're talking about email here so the first and most obvious step is to forward the item to the appropriate person.  But don't just hit forward and send.  You need to lay the ground work:

* Ask the person to take care of this for you.  It sounds simple, but asking can go at lot farther in getting things done than instructing - unless you are that person's boss.
* Be very clear what you are asking.  Instead of "Bob, can you take care of this for me" say "Bob, Maryann needs a response on this by Thursday.  Can you review our timeline and get back to her with whether or not we'll be able to meet her needs?  Please copy me on your response."
* Delegate the task, not the method.  By giving something away you letting go of the idea that it will be done exactly as you would have done it.  Everyone has their own way.  Let the process go.
* If it's highly important or time sensitive, make yourself a tickler to follow-up.  This may be as simple as moving the email into a "waiting" folder or putting a reminder on your calendar to follow up with the person you delegated to.
* Delegate necessary decision-making power along with the task.  If you want your husband to be the person to take care of the lawn, let him be the one to decide how often things get done.
* Say Thank You!  Another simple thing that makes all the difference in the world.

Don't be afraid to delegate.  It can be very freeing.

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