You’re Doing Too Much: How to Delegate and Get On Track

By the small business content developers at

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of finishing your to-do list or if even the idea of getting help with your duties repulses you, it’s highly likely that you need to develop the skill of delegation.

It can feel good to think that you are at the center of everything and that nothing can get done without your effort and input. However, this attitude quickly limits your prospects for expansions, for growth, and for a truly relaxing vacation. The truth is that no one can do it all. At some point, you’ll need to hand over the reins and let someone else sit in the driver’s seat.

So what can you do to increase your capacity by growing your team?

The good news is that is you probably already are delegating, even if you’re not aware of it, whether you’re asking your neighbor to contact the landlord about that dodgy door, requesting a friend to plan a celebratory party, or asking your partner to pick up the dry cleaning. Now you just need to find a way to do it professionally! If you already have a team in place, you’re one step ahead. If you’ve been a solopreneur thus far, it may be time to do some hiring or outsourcing. Here are some steps to help you delegate sensibly:

1. Prioritize

The challenge with delegating wisely is that everything may feel like a crisis, but you’ll need to look at the big picture and delineate priorities then figure out what you must do personally and what you can hand off to someone else. You might think that this is a good way to get rid of odious tasks, but do you really want an intern doing your accounting?

Be clear about your goals when assigning important tasks to other team members. If a big project looms, break it down into smaller parts and look for things you can quickly assign to your team, then focus on high priority tasks to reduce the overall pressure.

2. Organize

Consider what you’ll be training someone else to do. If updating your website is a task you’d like to designate as another team member’s responsibility, create a training module to help your new hire get up to speed. It may seem laborious to undertake that task, but in the long run it will make training easier, and in the event you need to find a replacement, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your team and try to match skills. The office introvert will probably love wrangling software while the talky extrovert may prefer client meetings. Talk to your team about the tasks you’ll be assigning and get buy-in before you proceed. These conversations can help you get an idea of the skills your staff members would like to develop.

3. Schedule

If you’re getting help on a large project with multiple moving parts, create a detailed schedule with milestones and deadlines, then break it up into manageable parts so that your team knows of constraints from the get-go. Arrange check-in meetings at comfortable intervals, but don't overschedule them or your team may get the message that you don’t trust them. Finding the right balance between being hands-off and micromanaging can take time, but clear communication and timely evaluations of progress will aid the process.

4. Be Available

Once you’ve handed off your tasks, your first impulse may be to fill up your schedule right away, and while that is admirable, that inclination may be what got you into this situation in the first place. Go back to your priority list and focus on manipulating your schedule into a sustainable and strategic plan that will allow you to be available to support your team in the beginning and at crucial moments.

It is important to be firing on all cylinders, but at the beginning your team may need a bit more guidance. Keep some wiggle room in your schedule so that you can assist as necessary. The good news is that your team may not need you at all and that wiggle room will help you get back in control of your to-do list.

By Andrew Patricio

May 18, 2016