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What’s the number one most effective way to make more time in your day? Get other people to do the things you’d normally be doing. Many people complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day when the problem is simply that there are too many tasks in their day that could easily be given away to someone else.

You Can Afford It

Even if hiring someone (probably a virtual assistant) to help out doesn’t seem cost effective upfront, it will be with a little smart planning. By giving away the low-level tasks that take up lots of time and provide few returns, you have more time to spend on high-level, high-reward tasks that will not just pay for the assistance but make it profitable to have one. If you do this right, you’ll still be doing less work — high-reward tasks make more profit in much less time.

It’s Hard to Give the Work Away

One problem many people have with delegation is that it’s difficult to pass on work to others. It’s easy to talk yourself into thinking that you’re the only one who can do the job right and that nobody else can be trusted to produce the results that you can. Just recognize that it’s naturally difficult to pass things on and start with the small stuff. Let yourself build up to being comfortable with your assistant — at least you’ll be using up fewer hours and costing yourself less money to begin with!

Don’t Pay to Delegate What You Can Eliminate

If you are trying to palm a task off on someone else, consider whether there’s a way to completely eliminate it in the first place. If it doesn’t need to be done, you don’t need to be losing money by having someone else do it. What seems to be a given necessity isn’t always one. There may be an automated system that can be put in place as a replacement, or it’s often simply the case that many admin tasks that take up your day aren’t necessary to begin with. Always look to eliminate before you delegate.

Ensure the Job Gets Done Right

One thing that no amount of delegation will eliminate is the need to check that the job is done properly. If checking the job takes as long as doing the job, just do the job yourself. There are three things you can do to ensure quality work gets done.

Hire carefully: check each individual you consider as closely as you can. When you choose the best of the bunch, put them on a trial period and monitor their work more closely than you normally would for a while. If they are not what you expected them to be, it’s better to give them the boot now rather than later; hiring assistance is time consuming but letting the problem lie will cost you dearly the longer it goes on.

Give good instructions
: be clear and concise with your instructions. Be concise enough that the clarity of the instructions aren’t compromised and clear enough that the assistant can have no doubt about what is being asked of them. Ask for deliverables — “research topic X” is nowhere near as good a request as asking for a report on topic X that contains sections on Y and Z. They’ll know what to research, which aspects of the topic to focus on and how to present the information to you. Always provide deadlines, and always provide the narrowest statement possible — being vague will do you no favors.

Give good feedback
: while you should never hire someone incompetent to start with, there’s always room for improvement. Don’t expect that improvement to come without the right encouragement and feedback. Tell them what they’re doing wrong and how they could improve on that — and equally important, tell them what they’re doing right, or they won’t know whether or not to keep doing it.

In most cases, that combination will ensure you get good results from your assistant and can even whip an underqualified individual into shape pretty quickly.

Good luck with delegation. It can be tough and scary, but you’ll wish you’d done it earlier when you have a few more hours in the day.

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