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10 Apr

Spend less time teaching others

Datum: 2014-04-10 11:47
Two hands handing out a blue and an orange sheet of paper.

Are you cur­rent­ly respon­si­ble for com­plet­ing a recur­ring task which you have had on your hands much too long and which you would like to del­e­gate to some­one else, but you feel reluc­tant towards doing so since it feels like such a has­sle to teach some­one else how to do it?

If so, it is a pity you feel this way.

It means that you are miss­ing out on eas­ing your bur­den and hav­ing more time for what you cur­rent­ly do not have enough time to do. When I have a lot on my hands and life is hec­tic, I def­i­nite­ly feel very reluc­tant to spend­ing time on explain­ing to some­one how some­thing is done. When life is spin­ning at high speed and we feel stressed, the last thing we want to do is spend extra time teach­ing oth­ers how to do something.

But, we can make this eas­i­er than it might appear and only have to put in a min­i­mal amount of extra effort. Let us make this as easy as pos­si­ble and describe what we do while we are doing it any­way – and this time for the last time!

Do this

  1. The next time you are going to do the task in ques­tion, say to your­self that enough is enough!”.

  2. Define what the task con­sist of by sim­ply nam­ing it. Try giv­ing it a name which clear­ly spec­i­fies and describes what you intend the end-result to be, for instance Com­pile the month­ly report on sales-sta­tis­tics for the man­age­ment meet­ing”, Cre­ate and send invoic­es for hotel-nights to the clients con­cerned”, Gath­er com­ments on the report from all project-par­tic­i­pants” or what­ev­er is appro­pri­ate to describe your task.

  3. Now it is time to take action. Record what you do as you do it.
    • Make a sim­ple check­list in your favorite text-editor
    • Draw a process-map chart­ing out all the steps you take
    • Cre­ate a new Word-doc­u­ment where you com­bine both sim­ple writ­ten instruc­tions with screen­shot in order to make the com­ple­tion of the task eas­i­er to comprehend
    • Get your­self a sound-to-text con­ver­sion-app such as Drag­on Dic­ta­tion and describe out loud to your­self what you do so that the app can write it all out instead of you doing so
    Cre­ate your descrip­tion in a for­mat which the per­son you will del­e­gate to can use effec­tive­ly and imme­di­ate­ly the next time the task needs to be done. This way he or she does not have to spend time rewrit­ing it into a more acces­si­ble for­mat. You might even ask the per­son in ques­tion how she would pre­fer to view the rou­tine. Or, arrange a meet­ing with the per­son and allow her to fol­low you through the process of com­plet­ing the task, and then cre­ate her own man­u­al describ­ing how it is done. This way you will not have to write the pro­ce­dure down your­self, but on the oth­er hand you might get stuck answer­ing redun­dant or irrel­e­vant questions.

    So the more pre­cise­ly you describe the pro­ce­dure, that is, the more infor­ma­tion you include, the few­er ques­tions will fol­low your instruc­tions. It might cost you an extra sec­ond here or there when you are record­ing your actions, but I would say that it is worth it.
  4. If you have cre­at­ed a com­pre­hen­sive descrip­tion of the task, its pre­req­ui­sites, how fre­quent­ly it needs to be done, how to con­duct a search for answers when some­thing goes wrong, con­tacts and oth­er rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion, it should be rather sim­ple to del­e­gate the task to some­one else.

Done! Your bur­den is now slight­ly lighter.

Describe now in order to do less lat­er on

If you describe the task you want to del­e­gate while you are per­form­ing it, the task of actu­al­ly describ­ing becomes eas­i­er, and is done quick­er and with less effort. What has been weigh­ing you down much too long is now lift­ed off your shoul­ders and you will have more ener­gy for oth­er, more inter­est­ing tasks instead.

What is your way?

How do you make the process of del­e­gat­ing tasks as easy and smooth as pos­si­ble? Share your tip with me.

(Did you know that you can actu­al­ly del­e­gate to your calmer sum­mer self too?)

By the way, if you want more tips on how to cre­ate good struc­ture at work — here are many ways to get just that.