“If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”
How often have we heard this, said this, and truly believed this? The fact is, it’s simply not true.
Think back on the first quarter of 2023. How many times did you finish a work week thinking only of unaccomplished tasks that needed to be rolled over to the next? You may even be able to quickly identify weeks that you missed family dinners and a reasonable bedtime.
If you operate your business with the assumption that you are the most proficient at every task and the only one who can get things done the way you want them done, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal—and an opportunity to win back your time.
You have the ability to avoid unnecessary taxes on your time; to get more (and more important) work done and enjoy the Double Win. All it takes is following these three crucial steps to learning how to delegate.
Step 1. Justify (Your Need to Delegate)
“I can do this better than anyone else.”
It’s counterintuitive, but this can actually be a limiting belief—maybe not if you’re only referring to one specific task, but if this is your go-to line for everything, you’re presenting a limiting belief about your delegation abilities.
No one is the best at everything. Sure, you may be proficient. You may even be good. But so is your team. And so is your ability to train, coach and make others good—even great.
Delegation begins with understanding that you don’t have to do everything for everything to be done right.
Your time is valuable. Think of each hour of your day as a $100 bill. You wouldn’t pay $100 for a sandwich that’s only $10 on the menu. You shouldn’t spend your precious time on tasks when it’s more cost-effective to delegate to someone else who has been trained to handle that task with proficiency.
There’s your justification: You’re losing time and money by not delegating.
Step 2. Clarify (What Needs to Be Delegated)
Not everything should be delegated. An airline pilot shouldn’t delegate flying the plane to the patron in row F. A surgeon shouldn’t delegate the first incision to the hospital receptionist. And you shouldn’t hand over the reins on tasks that only you can and should be doing.
But let’s be honest: There are far more tasks you shouldn’t be doing than those you should. The tricky part is being honest with yourself in figuring out how your time is best spent.
That’s where the Freedom Compass comes in handy.
Step 2A is to identify tasks in your Drudgery Zone–tasks you both aren’t all that proficient at and that you don’t enjoy. These are productivity killers, and, realistically, you’re wasting time and money not finding someone else to take them off your plate, even if you need to spend some time and money training them to do those tasks.
Step 2B: The Distraction Zone. You’re not running a business just for fun. You want to make money, and while you may enjoy various tasks that make your day more enjoyable, if you’re not all that proficient at them, you’re costing yourself money. These are also prime candidates for delegation, as much as it may pain you. The pain will subside when you realize you’re making more money letting someone else do them and you’re freeing up time better spent elsewhere.
Step 2C involves identifying what tasks are in your Disinterest Zone. You may be great at keeping your own books, but if you hate numbers, you’re draining energy that may ultimately allow you to be more efficient doing other things—giving you more time for things you love outside of work.
If you’ve followed the first few steps in clarifying what needs to be delegated, what you’re left with is everything in your Desire Zone. These are things you both love doing and are good at. They energize you. They make you money. They remind you why you’re running your business in the first place.
Time is the only thing you can’t buy more of. Why not trade some of it for time you can spend more impactfully?
Step 3. Identify (Who to Delegate to)
Everyone on your team is there for a reason. You believe in them enough to be a part of your company. Now believe in them enough to free up some of your time.
For every item in your Drudgery, Distraction and Disinterest Zones, there’s a member of your team whose Desire Zone fits that task. It’s just up to you to identify who the best person is for each task. To do that, familiarize yourself with the Freedom Compass of your executive team—and have your executive team familiarize themselves with the Freedom Compasses of their team. In the end, you should have a solid understanding of who the best person is for each task.
The second part of this final step is to be willing to outsource. If there’s no one on your team who’s well suited for designing packaging labels or optimizing your website—things you’ve reluctantly been doing for months—outsource it. Failing to delegate costs you valuable time you could better contribute elsewhere. Outsourcing is probably going to be cheaper than the cost of your time.
Remember, as a business owner, your job isn’t to do everything. It’s to ensure that everything important gets done. Don’t lose sight of that fact, and don’t lose sight of the Double Win you can achieve by making your valuable time a priority. Delegation is the key.
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