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The Delights of Delegation: Why Going it Alone Doesn’t Work

The Delights of Delegation: Why Going it Alone Doesn’t Work

Whether you’re a high-flying manager tasked with leading your team into battle in the latest big company mission, or looking to get a passion project off the ground, falling into that most counterproductive of traps and trying to do everything yourself can be all too easy.

After all, these projects are your babies; their success — or failure — ultimately lies with you. People, be it your employers, colleagues, friends or family are counting on you to take this on and emerge triumphant.

When the pressure is on like this, most of us have fallen victim at one time or another to the belief that doing everything ourselves is the best option.

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Yet by enlisting the help of others and putting your absolute faith in them, you’ll achieve much more than you ever could on your own.

Micromanagement

The Oxford English Dictionary, describes the process of micromanagement as

“control[ing] every part , however small, of (an enterprise or activity):”

And there are certainly arguments for this oft-maligned style of management.

It could be that we trust ourselves not to screw up more than we trust our team or that we selfishly hope most of the praise and rewards will come our way once a project is successful. We might not even be consciously aware that we are micromanaging; we’re simply so stressed out about a big project that it consumes our every waking thought and manifests in a need to control every little detail.

Though the process of micromanaging others is problematic, even worse is instead going solo and undertaking every single task by ourselves. Simply knuckling down and getting the work done can sometimes seem easier than getting a team involved and sharing both the hard work and rewards, but it rarely is.

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The Delights of Delegation

The negatives of both micromanaging others and trying to take on everything ourselves far outweigh any benefits of doing so. Wielding complete control over any project can be stressful. We worry about every task, lose sleep over the most trivial of details and become agitated and angry to the point where we snap at those around us. Even worse, trying to complete everything on our own can have a detrimental impact on our health and relationships as we work round the clock, skip meals and forgo time spent with loved ones to meet deadlines.

Eliminate a lot of that stress by delegating tasks to others and having complete faith that they’ll do a good job for you. It’s that faith which will ultimately ensure a successful project.

When you let go of the reins and let others know you trust them, they’re likely to feel empowered. Empowered people feel like a valuable member of a team and any number of surveys will tell you that employees who feel valued produce better work.

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Lose the ego. Somebody else can do it better than you.

At work, it’s important to remember that your employees have been hired for their skills and expertise. Use them! Let people focus on what they’re good at and they’ll deliver better results than you could if you were simultaneously trying to juggle an infinite number of other tasks at the same time. Even if you’re only working on a personal project, put your ego aside and look around you; you’ll probably find people you know who can complete certain tasks better than you. Get in touch and ask for help!

What’s more, when you empower people to make decisions and deliver the goods on the smaller tasks, you free yourself up to concentrate on the proverbial bigger picture and isn’t that what we’d all really like to be doing?

More by this author

Chris Skoyles

Writer, coach, and trainee counsellor specialising in mental health and addiction.

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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