Ever wondered what, why and when to delegate a task? I used to ask myself that question very often but for some reason I still kept doing everything myself. But now, I’m much better at it, thanks to this little checklist.
Here is a very simple technique or tool that will help you decide what to delegate and what to do yourself. For EACH task, ask yourself:
EXAMPLE TASK: Mowing the lawn (referred to “ex:” below)
- How much do you VALUE your TIME / how much can you make if you do something highly productive? (write down a high amount, even if you don’t make as much now. Put something IDEAL)
- ex: 100$ / hour
- If you’d TOTALLY FORGET to do the task, would anything bad happen?
- If no, stop here, you’ve just eliminated a task and saved time.
- ex: the grass overgrows. I must do this task.
- How many hours do I spend on this per week?
- Don’t forget to calculate the time to prepare, do, close the task and the potential time wasted if procrastinated, disturbed, etc. It’s never perfect so take that into account.
- ex: 3 hours (include dressing up, putting gas in the mower, cleaning the blades, mowing, undressing, taking a shower, dressing up)
- How much does it cost per hour to hire someone to replace you?
- ex: 20$ total (paid by the size of lawn, not by the hour)
- Can you delegate the task easily with the least amount of work possible?
- In other words, is it repetitive enough so that you only have to explain it ONE time and the other time it’s just a matter of explaining minor variations of it?
- ex: YES. Find a teenager, tell him what to watch out for, explain what to do, tell him to come back every Saturday at 1 pm
- Can you generate revenues directly with this task?
- if YES: Can you explain someone how to do it 80-90% as well as you’d do it so that you can make the same revenues or very close?
- if NO: Does it matter if it’s not 99% as perfect as if you’d do it yourself? Would someone be in trouble if it was not perfect?
- ex: NO. It’s a pure waste of time, for aesthetics
- Could an EXPERT in this SPECIFIC task do it BETTER than you?
- This is GREAT for tasks that you must do every week or day. For example, when I was programming, there was key parts and scripts that I could accumulate in a list and then put on www.elance.com once a week and it would save me 50-60 hours of work EACH week for UNDER 150$. And I could sell these services for 10x that price.
- Can you BATCH the task?
- In order to do it less often, can you batch the task and save much time with very little benefit lost? For example, can you wash your clothes each 15 days instead of each 5 days? What do you REALLY need to wash? Underwear? Then just buy more for cheap so that you won’t run out of them and the money spent will give you a great ROI on time spent elsewhere.
- Another example would be food. There are a lot of things that you can prepare in batch in advance that is easy to freeze/refrigerate and don’t lose any taste or nutrients. I love to make/cook big batches of red lentils, hummus, tabbouleh, meat, etc so that the only thing I have to do when making my lunch is add meat & legumes in a plate, heat them in the microwave, and add a few raw vegetables or a simple salad. I save 4-5 hours a week just by doing that since I have almost nothing to wash afterward and it takes only seconds to a few minutes to prepare a fantastic meal.
- Do you LOVE this task or are you THRILLED to do it?
- ex: Hell no, it’s a waste of time. I’d rather do many other things than that.
- Will you be EFFICIENT at this task / are you an EXPERT?
- If you do a task that you hate AND are not an expert, odds are you can waste MANY hours. For example, when I used to code PHP (a web programming language), I could lose hours (oftentimes a FULL week) on a single bug that could have taken an expert minutes to solve. But I felt that I was “working hard”, so I kept doing the same mistake.
- if NO: ALWAYS delegate it unless you want to learn and think it’s critical for your knowledge / future. There is NO POINT at losing hours on something an EXPERT can do in 20 minutes for 15$.
- ex: n/a. It’s a simple task anyone can do.
- If INSTEAD of doing that task, you’d work on a muse, project, blog, website, etc, could you generate revenues / do something that add value? How much?
So after answering these questions, you should have a pretty clear idea of whether you do the task or not. In theory (and from experience), you should delegate 90% of what you do and focus ONLY on what you LOVE or what you are an EXPERT at (that few people can be as good as you).
Always keep in mind what sort of revenues you can generate when you ONLY do what you are best at and pay someone else to do the rest. You’d be surprised at the fact that you can charge a business or customer 100$ for something that cost only 10$ to delegate. Remember this: if you know exactly what to delegate, to whom, how, then it’s that KNOWLEDGE that people pay for, not the actual execution. So if you can execute the task quickly, cheaply and efficiently by delegating then go for it. And realize it’s what all businesses do.
Getting better at mowing the lawn, programming or doing graphic design will not give you anything more in your life. These simple tasks are best given to someone else while you focus on what you love. In my case, I love generating ideas, creating new websites and products and I’m really good at it. So my best use of time is doing exactly that and leaving the execution to other people that are highly specialized in their tasks. And I LOVE DELEGATING. Give it a try and report back here!
Remember: most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness: lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing and far more unpleasant. Being SELECTIVE, by doing less, is the path of the productive.
~Tim Ferriss, in the 4 Hour Workweek
Hope this helps! If I forgot anything or think I should add anything, please leave it in the comments below.