How To Delegate – And Why We Don’t

Raise your hand if you don’t have enough time in the day to do everything on your “to do” list.

I imagine your hand went up.

In our daily lives, one of the most repeated phrases is “I don’t have time.”  This was borne out in our recent Green Connections Radio survey too, where “work-life management” was the second-highest challenge (behind earning more money and driving innovation, tied for first place).

We know we “should” be doing certain things to advance our careers or businesses, or be healthier and happier, but we just can’t find the time to do them. This is especially true for the 40% of households where women are the primary breadwinners.

Here are steps to assess your time and free some up for projects that move your career forward faster and/or improve your quality of life:


    1. List the things you want more time to do.


Riverbed BrandVoice

How To Manage Hyper-Growth With SD-WAN

Forbes Insights

Want To Get Ahead Of Your Competitors? Empower Your Firstline Workers — Now

Forbes Insights

Ambient Intelligence: The Power Of “Always-On” Technology

What are your goals? Do you want to write a book or earn a new professional credential to boost your career?  Or, write more blogs to increase your exposure and demonstrate your expertise?  Are there events you wish you had time to attend for networking?
Do you need more sleep or exercise?  Want to travel either for work or pleasure?  Go to cultural events? Spend more time with your kids or your spouse/partner?

  1. Log your time

Keep an ongoing record of how you spend your time for at least 7 days.  Include everything:  sleep, Facebook, Twitter, other social media, exercise, commuting, watching TV or movies, reading online news, doing webinars, attending work-related events and social events, time with family and/or friends, reading books…everything.
If you commute to work, indicate how you use that time.  For example, if you are doing the driving or walking, say that.  If you’re taking public transit, indicate what you do on the train or bus.


  1. Prioritize the tasks in your log

For each task in your time log, indicate: the importance, time being spent and value (in revenue, branding or marketing, or that you enjoy), and how well you do it.  Which are the tasks only you can do? Which tasks help your career or business directly? Which keep you healthy and happy?

  1. What do you notice?

What are the trends in how you’re spending your time?  Are you spending an inordinate amount of time on social media, for example?  What percentage of your time are you spending on tasks that only you can do?  What does how you spend your time tell you about your priorities? How much time are you spending on achieving your goals?


  1. Identify people who might be able to help you with any of these tasks.

Do you have interns or a virtual assistant? Do you have colleagues who might be able to write a first draft of blogs, or draft posts for social media, or post them?  Doing these tasks is good for them too, because they gain valuable experience.  Ask people who have asked you to mentor them to trade your time giving them advice for their time doing a few professional tasks for you in their skillset.

  1. Categorize automation tools you might be able to leverage.

There are many types of automation tools available today.  Social media posts can be scheduled with Buffer or Hootsuite, for example. Maybe you can delegate these tasks to someone on your team, or to an intern, and have them clear them with you.  You can schedule your time with tools such as Calendly, or ScheduleCIty or TimeTrade.  Some organizations use project management programs such as Slack or an internal one.

  1. Create modules for repeat projects.

If you write a lot of proposals, create modules of the different sections that can then be customized for each opportunity.  This helps your messaging and branding be more consistent too. 

  1. Explore outsourcing options.

Social media consultants may be better at that work than you and quite reasonable, for example, or boutique marketing firms may have creative ideas you can leverage too.  Freelance copywriters can draft content for your website or LinkedIn blogs that you then revise to suit your voice.


Now for the uncomfortable part: Why are you not delegating?

Every choice we make has a payoff.  There’s a reason you are not delegating certain tasks to other people.  Why? Be honest with yourself.

Do you think no one else can do it to your standards?  Get over it.  You can always help them and review their work before it’s final.  Don’t let perfection and wanting to be in control hold you back from getting it done.
Are you concerned that it will cost too much?  Ask for specifics and compare them to the opportunity cost, which is how much you might generate or accomplish with the time you currently spend on it.  Where does your time create the most value?  Many interns are still free or work for minimum wage, and there are sites to leverage freelancers too (e.g., eLance, Upwork) or small firms that may charge less than you imagine.

Do you want to be busy all the time so that you “don’t have time” to do things you would rather not do?  In other words, what are you avoiding by staying so “busy”?

We make time to do things we consider a priority.

Does your time use support your goals?  If not, what can you change so it does?

This blog first appeared in Forbes.