What Tasks Should You Delegate First?

To be an effective leader, you have to become good at delegating. The problem is that what made you successful doesn’t usually scale.

The Delegation Matrix

To grow—both personally and organizationally—you have to increasingly focus on those high payoff activities where you add the most value and get rid of everything else. As Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, once said,

I purposed never to do anything others could or would do when there was so much of importance to be done that others could or would not do.

Over the weekend, I was talking to my daughter, Mary Crimmins, and her husband Chris about this. Mary is in the process of hiring a virtual assistant and wanted to know what she should delegate first.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I said, “Well, the first thing I would get rid of are those tasks that I don’t enjoy and am not good at.” I then drew the 2 x 2 matrix on a whiteboard, similar to the one above. (It is similar to the one Bryan Miles shares in my ebook, The Virtual Assistant Solution: Come Up for Air, Offload the Work You Hate, and Focus on What You Do Best.

My wife Gail soon joined us and we had a great discussion about what virtual assistants could make possible in our personal and professional lives. We each identified one task or activity in each quadrant.

I see these quadrants as a set of priorities when it comes to figuring out what to delegate first. They are designed to measure passion (how much you enjoy a task) and competence (how good you are at a task). These are not the same.

  1. Priority 1: Delegate First. These are your lowest payoff activities. They are the ones you dread, because you don’t enjoy them and you aren’t good at them. By hanging on to them, you are holding you and your organization back. The sooner you delegate them, the better.
  2. Priority 2: Delegate Next. These activities should be delegated, too. They are not as urgent as Priority 1, because you are at least good at these tasks. However, while others may benefit, you don’t. They drain you and keep you from doing your best work.
  3. Priority 3: Pause and Evaluate. These are the tasks that are tough. You love doing them, but you aren’t particularly good at them. The question is whether or not you could become competent with the right training. Regardless, you should purpose to get good or get out.
  4. Priority 4: Don’t Delegate. These are your highest payoff activities—both for you and your organization. This is where you experience the most satisfaction and make the greatest contribution. You want to do more of these kinds of activities.

Often people don’t consider delegation because they think they can’t afford a virtual assistant. This is exactly backwards.

In my experience, resources always follow vision. Until I get clear on what I need, the resources don’t show up. Why should they? What would I do with them?

Instead, by faith, go through the exercise. Get clear on what you would delegate if you had the outside help. Then see what happens.

By the way, if you are serious about considering a virtual assistant, check out eaHELP, the company I use. I don’t know of a better way to set yourself up for success in 2014.

Question: What are three tasks you would delegate first if you had a virtual assistant? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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