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Get Back More Free Time: 3 Tips

Overly busy? Struggling with delegation? Get back more free time with these three helpful tips.
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There are things you love to do and things you have to do. Eventually everyone finds there is precious little time to do all of both. The only way out of this conundrum is to delegate the Have To tasks to someone else. This is harder than it sounds for most people.

Whether you're trying to pass on a task to an employee, colleague, or even a family member, there are two basic reasons you don't delegate a task you dislike.

A. You don't trust other people to do the task right.

B. You can't or won't take the time to teach someone to do it right.

In either case, most people choose the path of least resistance, which is to simply do the task themselves. Unfortunately, this approach perpetuates poor productivity and chronic overload. Don't fret! Here are some simple (not necessarily easy) tips to help you break the job-hogging cycle.

1. Keep a Process Journal

If you are ever going to fully trust someone else to do the job, you first must extract detailed information from your brain. Keep notes in a file on your computer or on a little pad every time you work on a Have To task. Just jot down a few inside tips about getting the job done right. A few minutes of writing each time you do the task will create a complete insider's guide in no time. These little guides help potential delegates get tasks close to right the first time. Ultimately, these guidance manuals and a little tolerance on your part for slight imperfections will help your team grow more confident and efficient when taking on tasks from you.

2. Dedicate Lunch to Learning

Assuming the people around you are ready, willing, and able to take on new assignments, they probably lack the information and training. If you keep waiting to teach them until the task is upon you, they'll never be capable of freeing you from the task. Be proactive by using casual time to educate new people on your Have To tasks. Whether it's one person or 20, buy lunch for anyone who wants to learn. A few meals later, you'll have plenty of alternative resources when you are ready to focus your time and energy back on Love To tasks.

3. Encourage Self-Delegation

One person's dreaded task may be another person's dream job. Create a physical or electronic message board in an easily seen place in your environment where people can list tasks they are anxious to pass along. Offer desirable rewards to those who will learn, take on, and perform these tasks to acceptable standards. You'll encourage a culture of empowerment by saying any job is here for the taking and simply pointing to the board when someone asks: Hey! How does a person get bonuses or promotions around here?

In case you're still struggling to delegate, here is a dramatic measure I learned from Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea. Several years ago, at a conference of the Entrepreneur's Organization, he relayed this critical and effective advice regarding delegation:

If you go on vacation for one week, you'll come back to two weeks of work.
If you go on vacation for two weeks, you'll come back to four weeks of work.
If you go on vacation for three weeks, people seem to figure it out for themselves.

Go enjoy a three-week vacation so you can come back to just the tasks you love to do. It really works!

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Last updated: Feb 19, 2013

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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