6 Surefire Steps To Delegate A Task And Stop Overwhelm

Stress is an epidemic right now among professionals and moms. Unsurprisingly, after the last few years, Gallup reports workplace stress is at an all-time high in the US and Canada, with 57% of workers experiencing daily stress. 

When a crushing workload is the source of stress, whether through too many play dates, a mounting pile of laundry, or the upcoming family vacation you wonder if you should cancel, “just delegate more” is often offered as a cure-all.

But what does that actually mean? How do you delegate a task effectively without it taking more time to give out assignments and review them? 

It often feels like “it’s just faster to do it myself.” But this mentality only keeps us stuck in that overworked trap. So, let’s talk about how to delegate a task effectively so you can actually reduce your workload and stress. It can be easier than you think.

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Strategies to help you delegate a task as easily as possible 

Make the instruction-giving part of delegation as easy as possible—on you and on them. Instead of delegating by writing out long emails that you have to polish or holding meetings where you rely on the memory of the person you’re delegating to, delegate by using a recording platform like Loom (this is NOT an ad and I have no affiliation with Loom; I just love it). Loom lets you record your computer or phone screen, talk over it, and, if you want, record your face (though I rarely use that option). 

The benefits are numerous. It is a lot faster to delegate a task by recording a video than delegating by email. It takes a lot less time to talk through an assignment than typing it all out in an email. Moreover, people are more forgiving of the mistakes you make while talking than your typos in emails, so delegating by recording helps you eliminate the five minutes per email you spend re-reading to polish it. 

This approach also beats delegating in meetings. It lets you delegate a task when it works for you (e.g. after you log back on after the kids are asleep), instead of at a time that works for multiple people.

In addition, instead of relying on the delegated-to person’s memory (or ability to scribble down notes as you give instructions), the recording of you talking through the assignment lives on. This allows the person to go back to the instructions to make sure they understood everything. This leads to better work product and eliminates the need for them to trouble you again to repeat instructions.

You can still hold meetings about the topic if you want to, but the meeting won’t be consumed with you talking at your team member. The meeting instead can focus on them asking you thoughtful follow-up questions once they’ve had time to digest your audio delegation. The result? Shorter, more focused meetings, full of conversation—not monologues.

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Some other quick tips to help you delegate a task more easily; first, when assigning a time-sensitive task, pad the deadline you give your delegatee to reduce your stress. Second, don’t forget to block time in your calendar to review the work (guess when it will come in, block the time, and then move it around as the work is delivered and your schedule shakes out). 

Third, when it’s time for feedback, don’t forget about Loom. Record your screen while reviewing their work and give verbal comments over the document you’re reviewing. You can pause and restart the recording to give yourself time to read. Not only is this, again, faster for you, but these recordings will also allow your team member to go back and listen to your feedback as many times as necessary to make any adjustments or strengthen their skills.

What to delegate: Can it be anything?

Now that you know how to delegate a task, let’s talk about what to delegate. 

Start with the most time-consuming tasks that you do frequently (e.g. one a day, once a week, once a month). While it can be hard to spend the time delegating, it’s easier to motivate yourself if you can envision getting time-consuming activities off your plate from here on out. For those tasks, create workflows (which we’ll cover in the next section). 

From there, pick the things that are less frequent but that you don’t enjoy doing and/or that aren’t in your zone of genius. Work doesn’t need to be hard, and someone else might enjoy the work you don’t like. 

Workflows: The secret weapon to delegate a task

It’s amazing how often we give the same instructions to the same group of people for the same type of work. Whenever you catch yourself repeating your words when delegating, create a workflow for it—or have your teammate, family member, or a part-time individual you decide to hire a couple times per week do it.

A workflow is the set of steps you want someone(s) to take when an action triggers an event. For example, if you’re a litigator like I was in my past life, you get discovery requests served on you all the time. Create a workflow for it.

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For example, when discovery requests arrive at the office, your assistant should save them to the system (OCRed and using this specific naming convention), calendar the deadline in the relevant attorney and staff calendars, create a document using a specifically-named document as a template that lists out each request and leaves space for our objections and responses, circulate the template to the relevant attorneys, and even calendar reminders for all attorneys to review the interrogatories.

Then, still as part of the workflow, you can delegate a task by directing an associate on the case to reach out to the client for the information needed to respond, follow up with the client to get the information, and once that information is all written up, send the client the draft responses for their review a week before the deadline. You can make this workflow as detailed as you’d like, knowing that the more detail you can front-load into your workflow, the smoother it should all run as you execute.

To delegate a task like this, you just have to assign specific people and dates to the workflow, and then everyone knows what to do without you spending time to spell it out.

You can save these steps in a Word document, Google document, or a project management tool. Consider recording a Loom for some or all of the steps to make it clear what should happen each step of the way.

While creating workflows takes some front-end work, the work will run smoother and be less stressful, the work product quality will improve because there will be fewer last-minute scrambles and dropped balls. Delegating requires less time each time certain work crops up, and the tasks can be more easily delegated to others (including new hires) without you having to retrain them.

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It’s worth pointing out that this type of documenting can help even when you’re managing up. If your superiors or clients ask you again and again for certain help and you find yourself repeating the same things, consider making a FAQ-type bank of responses in a Word document or the like. When you get another request for how to do that thing, instead of typing it all out again or spending 5-15 minutes explaining something, consider sending them a pre-written paragraph or pre-recorded Loom showing them how to do something.  

Conclusion: Why it is worth it to delegate a task

Learning how to delegate a task (like all things time management) is one of those things that sounds easy but can be hard to actually do in practice, especially when we don’t often talk about the practical mechanics of doing it. Leverage the tech that’s out there to make your life—and the life of the person getting delegated to—a lot easier, and get that work off your plate.

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6 Surefire Steps To Delegate A Task And Stop Overwhelm

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Kelly Nolan
Kelly Nolan
I’m Kelly Nolan, an attorney-turned-time management strategist and mom. Using realistic time management strategies, I help modern working women (especially moms) manage everything on their plate with less stress and more calm clarity.

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