Sometimes a large task takes longer than we had anticipated. We thought we would have more than enough time to finish before Friday and even time to do other tasks, but something comes up and unpredicted things take time. On Thursday morning we realise that we will not have time to work on anything other than this one important task for the rest of the week.
We will then need the help of others to finish what we cannot.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
Not the best time for thinking clearly
I am sure you have noticed, as have I, that we are not always at our best and brightest when we are stressed. If we then also have to think of who to ask for help and show that person how the tasks need to be done, we will probably feel even more so.
Give yourself a hand
If we had already thought of who to ask for help regarding certain tasks and prepared that person properly by the time we start feeling stressed, we would have had briefed them faster on what to do and gotten more time for working on the task we needed to prioritize.
According to the regulations here in Sweden, set by the Swedish Work Environment Authority, employers need to ensure that the employees know who they can turn to to get help and support in their work.
If you are lucky, your employer also agrees with this fundamental requirement for handling stress at work. If not, there are things you can do about the matter yourself — at least a few.
If you want to make it easier for yourself to find relief when you are under pressure, take a few moments this week when you have less to do, half an hour will be enough, and do the following.
- Browse your to-do-list (which contains everything you need to do, in detail) and ask yourself to whom you could delegate each and every task instead of doing it yourself. Imagine that you would take a few weeks off work. Who would then cover for you? There might not be a perfect replacement for absolutely all your tasks since some are dependent on your competence and person. It is not a coincidence that you hold the position that you do, and you are of course not completely replaceable. But, you will most likely find a whole bunch of tasks amongst all the things you have been assigned to do that someone else could do instead. It does not have to be a colleague. I do not have any myself, but there are plenty of people outside of my organisation I can hire.
- Make a list somewhere — in Word, in OneNote, in a text editor, in a spreadsheet or something like it — that will work as a guide when you quickly need to ask for help. Write down which task you will delegate to whom.
- Save the guide using a name that will make it easy to find. “People I can ask for help” or “Guide for delegating tasks” are suggestions of something that might pop out from your ordinary formatting of documents.
- If you find new tasks that are not necessarily dependent on you doing them, but which no one else know how to do, it is a signal that you could benefit from teaching someone else how the task is done. If you do not just want to heave more tasks onto a colleague, offer the colleague to “exchange” knowledge of tasks so that you might cover for each other when the need arises.
Less stress and more energy for what matters
If you make these preparations ahead of the stressful situations when you need help by making it clear who you could ask for assistance, you will find it easier to delegate tasks when you need to. You will feel less pressured before deadline and can maintain a higher quality in what you deliver since you can relax and focus to a greater extent.
What is your way?
What is your trick to quickly getting the help you need when things get hectic? Share your tips and thoughts with me, please.
(Did you know that adding a personal touch when delegating can make a great difference?)