How to avoid doing everything yourself

By Kelly Walter, Daily Orders

Here they are upfront: ditch, delegate, do. Sounds simple, but let me explain.

What do I mean by ditch? Have a look at yours and your family’s lists of things that need to be done. Does it really need to be done that day? If not, ditch it. Move it to another day, or get rid of it completely. What does that do for your stress levels? A whole lot - the process of getting rid of something can be so wonderful. Think about getting rid of physical items - how good does it feel to finally sort out all that crap in the garage? Brilliant! Think of your mind as the garage - when you’ve finally decided to get rid of things that aren’t working for you, or that you don’t need to do, boom - mind cleared, stress resolved.

But what if it really needs to be done it but it clashes with your partner’s or your children’s plans? Delegate it! No one to delegate to? Let me explain why delegation is important.

If you’ve ever been a part of a team in a workplace or on the sports field, you will understand that each member of a team brings their own skills or expertise, and they are generally chosen because of those skills. But how often have you been in a team where someone thinks that things will be better if they just do it all themselves? It would be like the cashier at McDonalds deciding to make the burgers, wrap them up, slide them down the slide to the register, package up the chips and drinks and give it to the customer. Would it work? Yes. Absolutely. Would it be done efficiently? I think not.

It is the same in a family. Everyone brings their strengths and weaknesses to their environment, and you need to learn how to work together to achieve the best outcomes. There is no use sitting in the corner getting cranky because your partner hasn’t made dinner - you need to communicate. Maybe he is better at cleaning up, and that is the deal that you’ve made. So be it, but make sure you’re sharing the load. There is a saying, “you’re no good to anyone if you’re dead”. As a busy mum, you need to look out for yourself more than anyone. Yes, of course, you might be the primary caregiver, but if you fall over, what happens then?

Don’t get into the mindset of I’ll do a better job, he’ll resent me if I ask him, it’ll get done quicker if I just do it myself because they are not positive for anyone in the family. Not only does it burden the ‘leader’ with the responsibility of everything, it doesn’t give the rest of the family a chance to shine, a chance to contribute and prove their worth. There are countless times that my kids have asked to help with the cleaning from dinner. Do I let them do it? Absolutely! Delegation and sharing the load are so very important because the opposite leads to a never ending rollercoaster of too much to do and not enough time.

My husband always tells me there are many ways to achieve the same outcome. If you remember anything from this blog - make it that. It might not be done the way you like it, but the outcome will still be the same. My one key tip to use when delegating, is to give time frames. It is no use asking "someone can you mow the lawn?" “Yes absolutely”. Then getting stone cold silence whilst you’re seething inside wondering why the lawn hasn’t been mown on your magical time frame that was never communicated. Catching my drift?

Everyone’s level of delegation comfort will be different and it takes a lot to let go, but I can assure you of this, if your friends and family, co-workers or neighbours have the capacity to help you out, I’m sure they would rather do this than see you struggle. But what if I’m a complete Nigel no friends (sorry to any Nigel’s out there). You don’t just have to delegate to people. Delegate to machines. Somewhere on this earth a person far smarter than I designed machines to help our lives become easier. Use them! If you have a dishwasher, dryer, washing machine - use them. That’s what they’re there for.

Where is another place to delegate to? You're in it right now.....The internet! Consider how computers and easy access to the online world have advanced our abilities to do things smarter, not harder. Think about it, direct debits, emails, online shopping – use the internet for good not evil.

If you can’t ditch it or delegate it, do it! If there are still conflicts, you then need to determine what gives. And go back to the ditch or delegate options.

The beauty of this system is that it works for many situations in life. Let’s take two examples; your email inbox and your kids.

  • Email inbox – hit the unsubscribe button and get rid of all of that junk! If you can’t ditch it, delegate to the responsible person. If it really is in your remit, crack on and get it done, or set manageable goals for completion
  • Kids - they obviously can’t delegate as much given that they’re at the bottom of the delegation food chain, but sometimes there are things they need to ditch. All too often we find that the kids can be over-scheduled. I don’t know much about child psychology, but I can tell you one thing from experience - kids get tired, and when kids get tired, kids get cranky. When kids gets cranky, no-one has fun. So, you might have spent your hard earned dollars on those swimming lessons and you believe that it is an essential skill to have (which I do too), but you know what, sometimes they get tired and need a rest. So maybe consider giving them a break too, by ditching some of their commitments from time to time.

There are only so many hours in a day, and you cannot achieve everything. Using the three simple words of ditch, delegate or do, you're bound to see some clarity in your planning and make a huge leap towards achieving your everyday goals. And when everyone knows what they're doing in advance, there is far less chance of tantrums, tears or arguments, because what you need to do is predictable. 


Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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