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It all adds up

As I was going through my day, a few additional tasks came to mind that I hadn't planned on doing but were important. "No worries," I thought to myself, "I'll ask my assistant to do them!"

Many of the things I ask her to do I could easily do myself. Often they are short 10 - 15 minute tasks, on platforms I've worked with for years.

Because of this, I occasionally doubt myself. "Do I really need to ask April to do this? Shouldn't I just do it myself?"

However, such thinking is foolhardy. I could do these, but it'll cost me in the long run because it all adds up.

Even if my assistant does just 15 min of tasks daily that I don't have to do, I'm getting back 3,900 minutes a year.

The thought "it's just as simple to do it myself," is how many people rationalize not letting go of a task or project. In actuality, this limiting belief stifles growth.

Yet it's not just delegating that is an essential skill, it's learning how to share the load. And more specifically, it's a matter of empowering others to contribute to their strengths.

When people feel like their actions matter, they become vested in the work. When others are contributing their strengths they can do the job better, which improves the quality of the product in the end.

So yes, I can do these things myself, but I won't do them as well as my assistant does because her strengths compliment my own. She enhances what I would do and takes it to the next level.

Of course, not everyone feels this way. It's common to think, "I could do it better myself." And avoid delegating a task or a project as a result.

In some instances that might be true, I'm a better writer than my assistant is - so I don't ask her to write blogs or emails for me (I realize this is breaking news, everything you read from me I actually wrote).

But most of the time, such a limiting belief comes from having unrealistic expectations about the learning curve required. It takes time to not only learn a new skill, but to comprehend how to complete a task to your standards.

There's a bit of back and forth required. A process of trial and error. In the beginning it helps to build in buffer time for constructive feedback to occur. I expect that it won't be perfect and that we're going to learn how to make it work together.

As the one delegating, there's ways to improve the instruction and direction I'm giving. If it's overly complicated, that can be overwhelming or confusing - especially if the situation is not inherently complicated. Simple directions that clearly state the actions that need to be taken is empowering. I'm a big fan of using checklists so that all the relevant tasks for a project are clearly documented and easy to follow.

At the same time, it's also important to learn how to set clear boundaries for creative expression and on-the-spot problem solving to occur. Not everything can be relegated to a checklist. An app might not work the way I expect. Decisions need to be made about design or layout. And I don't need to be consulted for every single one of those pieces of the puzzle to be placed. So I give parameters to help my assistant troubleshoot or make decisions as needed.

And when a mistake happens, I take a step back and ask myself - what can I learn from this experience. How can I better articulate my expectations and vision? Do I have realistic expectations and if not, what can I renegotiate so we are setup to succeed together?

So yeah, there's a period of time where I could do it better myself. But it's worth investing in helping my assistant do it. In the long run she'll not only save me time but she'll actually do it better herself. That's because she's able to focus adequate time and energy to improving her skills in those areas, whereas I was just getting by juggling too many things at once - or I was until I started delegating.

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