Our lives often seem to get busier by the day. Even as we cross off an item on our to-do lists, two new tasks come up to replace it. When you are constantly overwhelmed with various responsibilities and work, each of them competing for your time and attention, delegating them becomes essential to successfully managing your energy and schedule.
Yet delegation also means losing control, which can easily translate to mistakes. For example, not everyone enjoys getting into the details of investing their money to build future wealth. But if you delegate this task, you want a reliable, experienced financial planner to make sound decisions on your behalf.
Here are more ways you can improve success when delegating anything in your personal life.
Invest in the relationship
Successful relationships work because both parties put in the time and effort to build trust. Letting someone else take care of a task, even a simple one, requires a certain investment on your part. This is intuitive when hiring a babysitter or pet daycare — you instinctively want to know someone who’ll be taking care of your baby or beloved pet.
Other tasks, however, tend to be more transactional. So avoid the potential pitfalls by building even a small relationship with a virtual assistant or house cleaner. You’ll get a better understanding of their capabilities and how they like to work, which will give you a clear picture of the sort of tasks and volume of work they can handle successfully. In turn, they can also pick up tips on how you prefer things to be done.
Trust, but verify
When you delegate a task to someone, it takes the workload off your shoulders, but it doesn’t mean you’ve abdicated your ownership of that activity. It’s great if you’ve built up a good working relationship with the person who’ll be handling matters on your behalf. But as a well-known Russian proverb goes, you should seek to “trust, but verify.”
Suppose you delegate your weekly meal planning, but some ingredients aren’t available. Verifying at an agreed-upon point will keep you informed so that you can approve any substitutions made, which can be vital if anyone in the family has allergies. Failing to stay involved to some degree means that you don’t get to check on the progress of a task versus its deadlines; it leaves too much to chance and deprives you of the opportunity to give constructive feedback.
Retain control over the major decisions
If you’ve had a bit of experience handling work that’s been delegated to you by a boss or colleague, then you may know how difficult it is when authority isn’t delineated versus autonomy. Most people don’t like being micro-managed, but one of the biggest favors you can do when delegating in your personal life is keeping control over the big decisions, and making that explicit in your instructions. You can allow your assistant to handle much of the planning and prep for a big event, such as a surprise party for your spouse, for instance, but retain control over the aspects where personalization matters most — the nature of the surprises, the invitations to special guests, and so on.
By working on these aspects of delegation, you can lighten the load on your schedule. You can enjoy more free time and energy while also reducing your exposure to the potential failure of entrusting important tasks to someone else.