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3 Habits To Help You Beat Life’s Supermarket Line

3 Habits To Help You Beat Life’s Supermarket Line

We are a highly developed race, tried and tested through years of environmental challenges courtesy of natural selection. Through those many trials, we have developed mechanisms that help us assess our environment and react in an almost instinctive fashion.

In general, automatic reactions are great when they’re activated in the right context: they save valuable resources by removing the mental hassle associated with decisions. But while automatic reactions are useful when applied in context, the problem begins when they influence our decisions and actions out of context.

Let’s take our saliency detection mechanism, for example. It helps us prioritize relevant information and focus on one quick decision — the one that is the most salient. Unfortunately, it gets in our way and is responsible for several illusory correlations, including this frustrating fallacy:

How many times you’ve stood in line at the supermarket thinking that the other lane is progressing faster due to lack of progress in yours? I bet more than once. And how many times, after you’ve switched lanes, has the lane you previously stood in started progressing faster? Almost always, right?

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The problem with this automatic reaction is that it tries to optimize our position, while it ignores several facts like our lack of control over the line’s progression rate (thank you Tom Stafford for this example and for inspiring this post).

There are many automatic reactions that work with and against us while we complete tasks and strive to be more productive. Below are the three habits you need to master in order to get more control over your automatic responses.

1. Determine the lane you’re going to stand in and stay there!

Trying to reaffirm your choices on a regular basis leaves you exhausted.

You may think switching between tasks (or lanes) will help you progress faster, but you’re quite wrong. Your brain is just pulling a fast one on you, convincing you that you can do things better if you’ll finish them later and move on now.

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When you’re constantly switching tasks, you spend more energy on skipping then you spend on doing. Sticking to your chosen path saves a lot of energy on several levels.

First, you don’t waste energy thinking about alternatives, you focus your energy on completing one task. Second, you don’t need to invest energy on new beginnings. Third, you don’t feel guilty because you’ve left something open, resulting in better focus on the task at hand.

The solution as you probably guessed by now is quite simple: plan your tasks and execute them one task at a time.

2. Focus on yourself and don’t compare between lanes.

When you’re stuck, you have a feeling that everyone around you is moving forward. This happens because our brain is calibrated to be self-centered.

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When everything runs smoothly, you don’t pay attention to your surroundings; you focus on the actions you’re about to make. When you’re focused on doing rather than comparing, things tend to get done.

The problem begins when there’s friction, when things don’t progress as we anticipated and we begin to look around for explanations and clues as to why everyone else is moving and we are not. But this is really just a distraction. So, instead of looking at what other people are doing, have a little faith in yourself and discover your own worth.

3. All lanes are the same.

Most of the time, we are the ones who are holding ourselves back. External influences almost never prevent us from reaching our goals. Sure, they might hold us back for a while, but they can never stop us from completing a task once we set our minds on finishing it.

Since we are our own worst enemies, we need to evaluate our condition using real-world parameters, like time and effort, while ignoring interruptions that offer an easy way out. One of the most talked about interruptions that prevents us from finishing tasks is FOMO, or fear of missing out. FOMO makes it really hard to focus on one thing because, according to our perception, there’s high chance we’re missing out on something.

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Dropping everything mid-task and moving onto something else will almost always backfire. It will most likely create a backlog of incomplete tasks and increase your stress and frustration. Not giving into FOMO and staying painfully honest with yourself is a must, otherwise the only thing you will truly miss out on is your goal completion.

Until next time, be polite and wait in line!

More by this author

Haim Pekel

Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

Do you absolutely hate failing? You’re in luck because, today, you’ll learn the art of how to tackle failure in your work life. The magic trick is called delegation of authority.

Failure is often a result of excess burden. When you take on more than you can handle, you are unable to perform well, even if you have the expertise to do it perfectly. It’s demotivating, a waste of time, and extremely annoying.

Let’s take a deep look into the delegation of authority to figure out how to make the most of it.

What Does It Mean to Delegate Authority?

Delegating authority is neither magic nor rocket science. It is exactly what it means: division of workload and distribution of power.

Now, this is where most superiors get worried. They misunderstand the idea and believe that distribution will take away their authority.

However, the division and distribution of authority are like giving the entire team autonomy over their own job, but their control is limited to just that.

The superior still has supremacy over all the employees.

Authority delegation minimizes the workload of the superior. This work is broken down into smaller tasks and spread out into a team so that every member works simultaneously to finish the project in a shorter time.

3 Elements of Delegating Authority

The delegation of authority has three elements:

1. Assigning Responsibility

This is the first step in the process. A person who is in charge, such as a manager or a team leader, assigns other team members certain tasks that have to be completed in a given period. Of course, this is only possible if the superior has more control and authority in the work environment than the subordinates.

2. Granting Authority

The next step is to give the subordinates enough authority and responsibility for them to complete the task and act independently.

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So, let’s say you are a supervisor who allocated one person in your team to do a certain task. This assignment will be useless to you if the subordinate has to come to you every step of the way to get permission and signatures required to fulfill the allocated job.

Unless you’re giving authority, you aren’t delegating. Instead, you’re only assigning a task, and that won’t bring you any benefits.

Also, granting authority puts the subordinate in charge. This person is now responsible for doing what they’re assigned, however they like. It’s up to them how they tackle obstacles. All that you as the supervisor should be concerned about are the final results.

3. Maintaining Accountability

There’s always a risk that some team members may not act responsibly, especially when they have been given authority over the assigned task. This is why you have to make every employee or team member accountable through some rules and regulations.

The superior must always have the right to ask the responsible person about their task[1]. Creating an accountability culture in a company is important, and accountability goes upwards in the hierarchy of a work environment. Never offer any leniency in this regard if you want to ensure quality outputs.

This step of giving and receiving feedback helps improve the future work ethic immensely.[2]

Effective delegation of authority

    Why Is It Important to Delegate Authority?

    Many times, superiors take on all the duties because they have a hard time trusting someone else to do the job as well as they would do themselves.

    That’s a valid concern, and it may keep you from getting the most out of authority delegation.

    But, with this risk comes a long list of benefits. It is actually important to delegate authority for the betterment of your organization and team.

    Superiors Can Perform Better

    The most important benefit of delegating authority is that the manager divides authority and gets the time to do their actual job.

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    As a supervisor, your first duty is to maintain the flow of your team. With your workload minimized and more time at hand, you can pay attention to the minor details.

    It gives supervisors the time to look at the more important stuff. Simultaneously, they get a chance to test which team members are most efficient. In case of any problem, the delegator has enough room in their schedule to sit down to figure out a solution.

    All in all, it leads to a more efficient performance from the supervisor’s side.

    Subordinates Learn With the Flow

    With a degree of authority in their hands, the subordinates begin to feel useful and important. This feeling is the most important route to improvement.

    As your subordinates work independently, they not only improve their existing skills, but they also perform better. Since they are ones in control, they are the only ones accountable for everything they put on the table. This sense of responsibility provides the mandatory boost of motivation[3].

    Moreover, with the delegation of authority, the superiors and subordinates work on the same level to a certain extent. This allows the team members to learn from their supervisors while also polishing their knowledge practically.

    Leads to Better Relationships

    If you’re in charge of any team, work as a manager, or own an organization that you run, you already know why employee-employer relationships are vital.

    The same applies to every workgroup.

    So, even if you’re just one small group of 5 people in a multinational organization, the rules are coherent.

    By letting go of some responsibilities and giving individuals a chance to grow, you’re spreading positive work vibes. It all works in a cycle where you give the team some authority, they feel important and outperform, your trust in them strengthens, and you continue to delegate authority moving forward.

    5 Tips to Delegate Authority Effectively

    There is a whole mechanism that supports the delegation of authority.

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    If done right, this concept has numerous advantages. However, the key is that it’s done right.

    1. Choose the Best Person

    It’s not easy to trust another person to do something that you would have preferred to do yourself. That is why it is crucial that you only delegate a task to someone that you have full faith in.

    The easiest way to do this is to pre-asses every team member’s skills and qualities. In your mind, have a clear idea of who does what best. So, if there is one particular individual who excels at technology, you will know where to go every time there’s a job related to that skill.

    Once you’re satisfied with who is in control, more than half of the issue is resolved and things will most likely go smoothly.

    2. Offer Enough Autonomy

    One huge mistake you may make is to break down tasks too much.

    Let’s say your team of 10 people has to arrange an office party for 100 people. You have to manage the location, decorations, food, and furniture.

    You can either assign 4 individuals each of the 4 main jobs, or you can divide each component further into small tasks.

    In the case of the latter, tasks will overlap, things will get confusing, and none of your team members will have full control over their assigned task.

    This generally leads to a final result that is extremely non-coherent.

    3. Clear Communication

    A major aspect of delegation is the availability of clear instructions. From details of the task to deadlines, the person who has to fulfill the job should be clear on every single detail.

    Unless they know what’s expected from them, they will never be able to satisfy the delegator.

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    You can learn more about effective communication in this article.

    4. Avoid Unnecessary Pressure

    Yes, diamonds only form after the charcoal is put under immense pressure. But, honestly, you don’t need to implement that strategy in your work environment when implementing delegation of authority.

    Offer plenty of time and flexibility for each individual to be able to offer their best performance.

    Some people may work better under pressure. In that case, let the individual make that decision for themselves.

    5. Offer a Helping Hand

    Just because you’ve given someone else the task and power does not mean you have to back off completely.

    In fact, you should try to be a part of the process, but only from outside a defined boundary. This is something you’ll have to figure out practically as per the needs of your work environment. However, it will ultimately lead to you being a more respected leader:

    The important point is that if someone is facing an issue with the delegated task, do not refuse to help. Offer advice and support readily so that your team can learn from you. It will end up benefiting your organization.

    Final Thoughts

    Conclusively, it is safe to say that the delegation of authority is a very helpful technique to adopt in workplaces. It allows for a positive working environment as well as fruitful results.

    It’s something that all leaders should implement to achieve a time-efficient and productive workspace!

    More on the Importance of Delegation

    Featured photo credit: Dylan Gillis via unsplash.com

    Reference

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