Many of us today are feeling rundown, stressed, and out of time. We have tasks we never get to that cause us stress every time they catch our eye. We have too much on our plates and we’re not very good at asking for help. A few select people know that the key to managing their life is to run it like a smart business - doing the things they’re best at, and delegating the rest. For most of us, delegation is a hard skill to develop. The challenge may be twofold: We have to give ourselves permission to outsource. And, we have to be willing to accept that other people can get the job done, even if they might approach it differently than we would. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Redirect your energy. Be willing to ask for help and be honest with yourself about the things that drain your energy. Start by looking at your home life. Whether it’s painting your living room, fixing a broken fence, cleaning your house, or prepping meals for the week—if those are things that deplete your energy, outsourcing them is the smart thing to do. If you’re willing to give up a little control, you’ll find that delegating and outsourcing can relieve a lot of the anxiety in your life.
Investigate professional services & local support. Do you have people in your life who could help out? You might be able to pay a friend a small fee to grab your weekly necessities on her regular run to Target. Or perhaps you could set up automatic deliveries through Amazon or other shopping sites. If you’re a new parent, you could consider overnight care for a night or two each week, so you can get more rest. Pet owners can rely on doggie daycare or a pet walking service. Neighborhood kids are often looking for odd jobs. A nearby retiree might be thrilled to take on some holiday baking. Consider the people around you who might have more spare time than cash, and solicit their help. These investments can give you more freedom to flex your day and maintain your energy.
Make the Investment. You may be thinking, “I don’t have extra money to be paying for these things.” Yes, outsourcing does come at a cost, but think about it as an investment. How much is your time worth? Do the math and calculate your hourly rate. Then consider the value of the time you’ve freed up through outsourcing. By alleviating stress, you have more energy to put toward your family, your work, or yourself. You can be more creative, happier, and better focused in other areas. The return on investment may be significantly greater than your out-of-pocket costs.
If money is a barrier, look for tradeoffs that would allow you to invest in yourself. What would you give up—manicures or restaurant lunches—to have a clean house? What’s the real cost of in-home meal prep, if you subtract the cost of takeout? The key is to figure out what drains your energy and what you want to invest more time in. Delegate, outsource, and manage all of your resources, so you have time and energy for the things that matter most.
Guest columnist Kyra Cavanaugh is the president of Life Meets Work, a workforce consulting firm that helps companies reimagine their workplace and transform the lives of their leaders, managers, and employees. Life Meets Work specializes in flexible work, leadership pipeline development, and work-life coaching for working parents and emerging leaders.