Delegate … Delegate … Delegate …

By John Teng

Life is busy these days. There are errands to run … appointments to get to … family responsibilities to take care of … and more, so much more. To-do lists used to be something only moms and wives dealt with. Not anymore! As more and more men struggle to juggle work, fatherhood, marriage, and multiple outside activities, they are discovering the necessity for a good working calendar and the ongoing to-do list.

I remember laughing with a friend once (years ago) when he explained to me the to-do lists his wife kept. This woman was a meticulous list maker. With three small children at home; a house to care for; aging parents; and a fulltime job, her life was filled to the brim with “things to get done.” Hence, the lists.

My friend told me about her “must get done today” list and her “needs to get done this week” list, and of course her “would love to get done if there’s enough time” list. Then there was her calendar. It was color coded to each family member and their activities. Oh how we howled at her list making and color coded calendars.

Fast forward 10 years and I am now the one being laughed at. My lists aren’t nearly as neat and organized as hers were (I am notorious for scratching notes to myself on pieces of scratch paper all over the office, my car and my home so I don’t forget something important(, but I make them nonetheless. My cell phone is constantly beeping me reminders of meetings, calls and appointments that I must not miss. Oh, and did I mention my family’s calendar? Here’s my wife’s mantra: if it isn’t on the calendar it doesn’t exist. I actually heard her arguing with the dentists office once that we simply had not missed an appointment – her reasoning was clear: it never made it to the calendar so therefore the appointment wasn’t valid. Right or wrong she had a point – did I actually just say that!?

Now I am the guy everyone’s laughing at. So who’s making fun of me? Probably every 20 or 30 something with no kids (or maybe just one or two); no home (just an apartment); and definitely not a demanding career (just a job).

Like I said, life is hectic. There’s too much to get done and too few hours in each day to accomplish it. I was driving myself insane and becoming more and more frustrated by my inability to get it all done. My weekends were being sucked up with household chores; kids sports games; and errands – oh the errands. Whatever happened to sitting on the couch and watching football all afternoon? Did men really ever do that?

After a lot of complaining (my wife calls it adult whining), I finally came up with a brilliant idea: delegation. I do it at work; so why not at home? So, how does it work? First, I list all of the activities and jobs I am responsible for on a regular basis. Then I prioritize them by importance and highlight the jobs I hate the most.

Next, I look over the list and pick the things only I can do. For instance, only I can be a father to my kids and that means making an effort to be at the ball field on Saturday mornings to cheer on my son. However, that does not mean I am the only person who can drive him to the practice before the game. This I can delegate. So, instead of piling everyone into the van at 8 am, I have coordinated with another Dad in the neighborhood who takes the boys to the field at 8 (then I and the family follow at 9:30 for the 10 am game). Since I am able to get home early from work on Tuesday’s, I handle transportation to practice that night while the other dad is free to relax after work for an hour or two. See how it works?

Now, once you have decided what chores, jobs and other responsibilities you can delegate, you need to figure out who to delegate them to. Since developing this plan I have yet to take out the trash. That’s is now my oldest son’s job. Great, huh?

Realizing that I abhor yard work, and my kids are still too young to pitch in, I called around and found a landscaping student at the local college who is willing to handle all of my yard work and landscaping for half the cost of hiring a trained professional. Dare I say that he does a much better job than I ever did taking care of the yard?

Take a look at your to-do list. The odds are good that you could cut it in half simply by delegating the jobs other sin your household (including those kids) can handle. Others you may have to hire out; barter with a friend; or trade with a relative. Be creative. You may be surprised at how many chores you can write off your list. Here are a few that can easily be delegated:

  • basic cleaning
  • yard work
  • trash
  • painting
  • washing the cars
  • pet care
  • dog walking
  • chauffeuring kids
  • shopping
  • baby sitting

Warning: whatever you do, don’t; take something off of your list and put it on wife’s – that is a strategy that is bound to backfire. Unless the two of you can agree to swap certain jobs, leave her to-do list alone and find another way to ease your own burden.

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