How to Delegate When You’re Used to Doing it All Yourself

female hands on laptop and desk taking task notes

As people grow in their careers, they learn how to delegate. It’s not possible to be a successful manager if you do everything yourself. Great leaders teach others and help them build competencies in key areas. In doing so, these leaders can then concentrate on more strategic activities that will benefit the business. This article from the Society for Human Resource Management is a good reminder of why we delegate.

We are leaders at home as well. Parents have a lot to manage to keep their households running smoothly. And over the last six months, our to-do lists have grown exponentially as everyone in the family spends all day at home, working and learning.

Parents who thought they could manage the additional workload quickly became overwhelmed. This New York Times survey of domestic workloads in the time of Covid-19 shows the weight of these burdens (and the differences between men and women). There’s “more” of everything – groceries, meal prep, clean up and laundry. As a mother of two boys, I know firsthand the challenges of supervising remote learning. I spend one to two hours a day helping them with classes and time management while tracking the eight different places online to find grades and homework due dates.

At Pepper’s Personal Assistants, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of families needing assistance to manage extra responsibilities at home. We’re also helping more parents source babysitters, nannies, tutors, and housecleaners. If you’ve always managed household activity on your own, it can be difficult to let go and let others help. Here are my tips on how to delegate home responsibilities so you can decrease your stress level and get time back in your day:

  • Start – and share – a running list – Planning is an essential first step. And one of the best ways to plan is to do a mind dump of all of the tasks that require some help. Keep the list in one place, whether it’s on your phone, in a notebook, on a Trello board, or somewhere else. Whenever you think of something new, add it to the list immediately so you don’t forget it. Share your task list with your assistant, who can help prioritize and track projects.
  • Set up regular check-in calls – Scheduling a weekly call can help ensure that everything is progressing smoothly, and that your assistant has the necessary tools to be successful. You can also discuss any new additions to your list, or special requests for the days and weeks ahead.
  • Give feedback immediately – If something’s not right, don’t avoid the issue or hope it fixes itself at some point. Be proactive with your communication so that your assistant can make adjustments to meet your requirements. At Pepper’s, our assistants understand that feedback is an essential part of the job, and not criticism to be taken personally. Never assume that people can read your mind. Open conversations are essential to limit misunderstandings.
  • Be open to delegating more – Great assistants use their experience and skillsets to add value and offer help in areas you may not have considered. An assistant who does meal prep, for example, may be able to organize the pantry or clean out the refrigerator while food is cooking. Be receptive to your assistant’s ideas – they will likely make your life easier!

Delegating effectively requires some organization and communication on your part. Investing a little bit of time to help your assistant hit the ground running brings big rewards, including more quality time with your family and career, and a lot less stress. What household chores are you ready to give up to get more time back in your day?


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