Lessons in Success: Delegate, Don’t Attempt to Do It All

Delegate or die

I really dislike housework. From the time I was in my early 20s and out on my own I have paid other people to do my housecleaning. There was actually a time when I made barely more hourly than I was paying my housekeeper.  And yet I never saw it as a luxury. It was a necessity to me.


So when faced with the option of spending 6 to 8 hours every weekend playing the happy homemaker or paying someone to do something they take pride and pleasure in — knowing they’re going to complete it in less than half the time it takes me – it became a no-brainer. Doing what I didn’t LOVE – what didn’t light me up was killing me. It was killing my spirit and my creativity, in addition to sucking up a tremendous amount of my time.


You can’t afford not to delegate

And here’s where a lot of entrepreneurs and startup business people make a vital error: they attempt to do it all. They are the IT department, scheduler, housekeeper, bookkeeper, as well as putting effort into doing the work that is their business. They  erroneously believe that they can’t afford to bring on help.


Again I go back to the fact that if it’s not your primary skill set, you’re going to take much longer at it and utilize and expend much more energy doing it. Essentially you’re using the most valuable resource – your time – on a sucky job, the thing you don’t do best. Think about what you’re doing in your business. Are you doing what makes you money? That’s probably the thing you do, do best. Is that where the majority of your effort and energy is spent?


Decide what to delegate

Let’s make a list. In Column A, list out all of the activities that you do that actually make you money, the things you do well, the things that feed your creativity within your business. Then, in Column B, list all of the activities in your work that cost you time and energy and effort. These are the time sucking tasks. The ones that leave you feeling drained.


Your primary focus should be on the Column A activities from this point forward.


As for the column B activities, prioritize them. What can you give up that will free up the most time for you immediately? And you have choices; you can hire someone, bring on a virtual assistant, share an employee with a colleague, or let your great aunt Mavis help. Just remember that the best person for the job will do it with a sense of pride and pleasure because it’s something that is their primary skill set.


What deciding to delegate looks like on paper


You – charge $100 an hour for your services. But it takes you three hours to do data entry and reconcile your monthly bank statements because you hate it. You aren’t good at it, you get distracted and frankly would rather have a root canal sans Novocaine. Since you’re not spending money, you perceive this as a savings. However, there is an actual cost as these are no longer billable hours for you.

Bookkeeper – charges you $40 an hour for the same work and does it in 45 minutes.

Virtual Assistant – charges you $18 an hour and does it in 90 minutes.


Now even if you only utilize one of those three billable hours you freed up, you’re still ahead of the game. So the next time you think you’re saving money by trying to do it all – sit down and figure out the actual costs.


What do you splurge on in order to free up some time for yourself and your family? Share your best ideas with us in the comments.