Do you have days when you ask yourself how you could make your day last longer?
No matter what your social status, how much money you have and how many people you know, every day your wallet of time is refilled with 24 hours to spend. How you are going to consume it depends on you.
Think for a second about all the moments in your life that gave you the most satisfaction. What was it that made it feel this way? Was it specific people, or maybe the thing you were doing?
Usually these moments are connected with a feeling of deep engagement in some activity, or the sense of being right here, right now. Let us look closer at how we can consciously get into the states of Flow and Mindfulness.
This is how Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes ‘Flow’ in his book of that title:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
If you want to make your day last longer, you have to possess the skill of getting into Flow. It is not merely about having more time. It is about getting the most satisfaction out of that time. Do you remember some challenging activity that engaged you for several hours? I bet the feeling at the end of it was really worth it!
My adventure with Flow started with eliminating distractors and applying the Pomodoro Technique for just one hour per day. I was amazed how much I could accomplish when I turned off all distractors and focused on one thing completely. Then I started to raise the bar and make most of my activities challenging. This way I was more energized and stimulated. I was learning faster and with greater joy.
The opposite feeling, known very well to all people, is entropy. Described by Csikszentmihalyi thus:
When we are left alone, with no demands on attention, the basic disorder of the mind reveals itself. With nothing to do, it begins to follow random patterns, usually stopping to consider something painful or disturbing.
It is all about moving from entropy to flow. See this short film about finding your creative flow state:
Your day can be full of activities that get your energized focus, yet there is a completely different state of mind you need as well. It is Mindfulness. It is concentrated attention and awareness about the present.
Just think about the moment you are reading these words. Think about how you breathe. Think if you are relaxed. Think about the tensions in your body. Look at your hands. Feel the smell. Look at the people and items around you. Consider what you feel and think.
This moment is called: Hereand Now. Let it be the 30 longest seconds you have ever spent. Don’t lose your focus!
I started my adventure with Mindfulness during my daily shower. I was thinking about the day: What happened? What have I learned about the world and about myself? At the same time my focus was shifting – I could feel the water, how it touches my skin. How it feels. How it smells. How it looks. I was completely present in that moment. Later I tried to put that practice into every minute of my day, at work and at home – to sense my feelings, thoughts, the feelings and the faces of others, aroma. I swear I felt time slowed down.
Try it. When you have your next meal, just allocate 100% of your attention to the smell, the look and the way it tastes. This may be your best meal in a long time!
Always remember that when you are left alone, with no demands on your attention, your mind will eventually wander into something painful or disturbing. If you want to make your day last longer, you want to maximize the time that you are in the Flow and Mindfulness states: be completely present in the activity, or just focus on here and now.
All managers and leaders must master the art of delegation. Understanding how and when to allocate responsibility to others is essential in maintaining a high level of productivity, both on a personal and organizational level. Knowing how to delegate is also essential for an effective leadership.
To learn how to delegate is to build a cohesive and effective team who can meet deadlines. Moreover, knowing when and how to delegate work will reduce your workload, thus improving your wellbeing at work and boosting your job satisfaction. Unfortunately, many leaders are unsure how to delegate properly or are hesitant to do so.
In this guide, you will discover what delegation really entails, how it benefits your team, and how to delegate work effectively.
An effective leader knows how to delegate. When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more on a daily basis. Effective delegation also promotes productivity within a team by drawing on the existing skill set of its members and allowing them to develop new knowledge and competencies along the way. The result is a more flexible team that can share roles when the need arises.
When you are willing to delegate, you are promoting an atmosphere of confidence and trust. Your actions send a clear signal: as a leader, you trust your subordinates to achieve desired outcomes. As a result, they will come to think of you as a likeable and efficient leader who respects their skills and needs.
Delegation isn’t about barking orders and hoping that your staff falls in line. A manager’s job is to get the very best from those under their supervision and in doing so, maximizing productivity and profit.
Here’s an example of bad delegation:
Careful delegation helps to identify and capitalize on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Delegation also boosts employees’ engagement as it proves that the managers are interested in drawing on their talents.
The Fear of Delegating Tasks
Delegation boosts productivity, but not all managers are willing or able to delegate. Why? Here’re some common reasons:
They may resent the idea that someone else may get the credit for a project.
They may be willing to delegate in principle but are afraid their team won’t be able to handle an increased degree of responsibility.
They may suspect that their staff is already overworked, and feel reluctant to increase their burden.
They may suspect that it’s simpler and quicker just to do a task themselves.
They dislike the idea of letting go of tasks they enjoy doing.
They fear that if they delegate responsibility, their own manager will conclude that they can’t handle their workload.
Delegation vs Allocation
Most people think that delegation and allocation are synonymous, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two.
When you allocate a task, you are merely instructing a subordinate to carry out a specific action. You tell them what to do, and they do it–it’s that simple. On the other hand, delegation involves transferring some of your own work to another person. They do not just receive a set of instructions. Rather, they are placed in a role that requires that they make decisions and are held accountable for outcomes.
How to Delegate Work Effectively (A Step-By-Step Guide)
So what’s the best way to delegate work so you can fight the fear of delegation, build an efficient team and work faster? Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Know When to Delegate
By understanding how much control you need to maintain over a situation, you can determine the best strategy for empowering workers. There are 7 levels of delegation that offer workers different degrees of responsibility.
This brief video explains these levels and offers examples of when it’s appropriate to use each one:
Delegation occurs along a spectrum. The lowest level of delegation happens when you tell other people what to do. It offers little opportunity for employees to try new approaches. The most empowering form of delegation occurs when you are able to give up most of your control over the project to the employee.
Knowing how to delegate work helps you understand how to connect people with tasks that make the best use of their talents. When done properly, it ensures that you will get the best end-result.
When you’re deciding how to delegate work, ask the following questions:
Do you have to be in charge of this task, or can someone else pull it off?
Does this require your attention to be successful?
Will this work help an employee develop their skills?
Do you have time to teach someone how to do this job?
Do you expect tasks of this nature to recur in the future?
2. Identify the Best Person for the Job
You have to pass the torch to the right team member for delegation to work. Your goal is to create a situation in which you, your company, and the employee have a positive experience.
Think about team members’ skills, willingness to learn, and their working styles and interests. They’ll be able to carry out the work more effectively if they’re capable, coachable, and interested. When possible, give an employee a chance to play to their strengths.
Inexperienced workers may need more guidance than seasoned veterans. If you don’t have the time to set the newer employee up for success, it’s not fair to delegate to them.
You also have to consider how busy your employees are. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone by giving them too many responsibilities.
3. Tell and Sell to Get the Member Buy-In
After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job.  When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.
When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.
4. Be Clear and Specific About the Work
It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due. If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.
By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.
This type of accountability is commonly used in universities. If students only know the due date and basic requirements for completing major research papers, they might put off the work until the eleventh hour. Many programs require students to meet with advisers weekly to get guidance, address structure, and work out kinks in their methods in advance of deadlines. These measures set students up to succeed while giving them the space to produce great work.
5. Support Your Employees
To see the best possible outcomes of delegating, your subordinates need resources and support from you. Connect them with training and materials to develop skillsets they don’t already have. It may take more time up front to make resources available, but you’ll save time by having the work done correctly. For recurring tasks, this training pays off repeatedly.
Sometimes employees need a help to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of delegation. This is also a good way to monitor the delegated tasks as a leader. While you can keep track of the progress of the tasks, you are not micro-managing the employees.
Throughout the project, periodically ask your employees if they need support or clarification. Make it clear that you trust them to do the work, and you want to create a space for them to ask questions and offer feedback. This feedback will help you refine the way you delegate work.
6. Show Your Appreciation
During periodic check-ins, recognize any wins that you’ve seen on the project so far. Acknowledge that your employees are making progress toward the objective. The Progress Principle lays out how important it is to celebrate small wins to keep employees motivated. Workers will be more effective and dedicated if they know that you notice their efforts.
Recognizing employees when they do well helps them understand the quality of work you expect. It makes them more likely to want to work with you again on future projects.
Now that you know exactly what delegation means and the techniques to delegate work efficiently, you are in a great position to streamline your tasks and drive productivity in your team.
To delegate is to grant autonomy and authority to someone else, thus lightening your own workload and building a well-rounded, well-utilized team.
Delegation might seem complicated or scary, but it gets much easier with time. Start small by delegating a couple of decisions to members of your team over the next week or two.