delegating work

5 Baby Steps Toward Delegating Work and Getting Your Time Back

By Susan Payton

I know, I know: while the idea of having someone take some of the load off of your shoulders has great appeal, the thought of actually doing it is overwhelming. And who has time to outsource work with so much to do??

I’m going to make this really painless for you. We’re going to take teeny tiny steps toward delegating work so you can ease into the concept, then you’ll be ready to jump in head first.

Step 1: Find One Task You Can Hand Off

It doesn’t have to be a big one. It could be as simple as having your kid bring the mail in or putting stamps on envelopes. This task might only take you 60 seconds, but I know it grows in size in your head the longer you put it off.

So go ahead. Find one single thing that someone else can do and delegate it.

Step 2: Decide Who Will Do It

If it’s an uber-tiny task, ideally you’d already have someone who can take it on (like your kid or your assistant, if you have one). You could even hire someone through TaskRabbit for a small task.

If the task is bigger or you immediately came up with a huge list of things you want to hand off to someone else, you can look at several options:

  • Bring on an intern (for free or minimum wage): Best for easier tasks or tasks in a specific category the student is studying, like marketing.
  • Hire a freelancer: Good if you have a one-time project like website design.
  • Retain a company: Ideal if you need ongoing help, like managing social media or accounting.
  • Hire a part- or full-time employee: This is only if you can justify the expense and the amount of ongoing work you’ll need.

Step 3: Find That Person

There are a variety of places to look for help. Start with your professional network to see if anyone you know (in real life or on social networks) can refer you to a service provider they can vouch for. Barring success there, move on to other options.

If you decided to go the intern route, check with local colleges and universities and speak to the chair of the department that is the best fit for the role you need filled.

You can look on Craigslist or UpWork if you’re looking for freelancers. And if you’re going whole-hog and hiring an actual employee, look on CareerBuilder or Monster.

Step 4: Outline What You Need Done

This is important! You need to write step-by-step instructions on any and all tasks you need to delegate so that the person who takes the job knows exactly how you want it done. Get out a Word or Google Doc and as you move through the steps you normally take to complete the task, write them down. This will come in supremely handy when training your help.

Step 5: Hire Help

Hopefully you found a few solid candidates in Step 3, and have interviewed them to find the best fit for your needs. Now comes the onboarding process. As I mentioned, training will be instrumental in the success of this plan.

First, demonstrate each task slowly while moving through those steps you recorded, then have your employee or freelancer walk through them with your supervision. Once you’re confident that she’s glommed onto it, set her free to do her new job.

Delegating work to competent individuals is the best way to free yourself up to work on other aspects of your business.

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Susan Payton
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She's written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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  1. Step 6: Grant your unconditional support. Even though the purpose of this exercise is to delegate tasks to save you time, I think it’s important for every employee to know that he/she can turn to the employer for support if needed. From my experience, I know that encouraging employees to come to you for help it shows that they can trust you. I think they will work harder not to disappoint you.

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