Making lists of things I do so that I can learn more about delegation

The Great Big Extract of top-rated posts will wait a little while, as I’m working with a WordPress developer (in Bulgaria!) to make a plugin that will allow people to filter my blog by the ratings I’ve set. That way, it’s not just a one-off export. I want to be able to quickly filter my blog posts like the way people filter photos. Wouldn’t that be nifty?

I can probably figure out how to write my own plugin, but I also want to learn about delegating technical tasks. Delegating might involve more time, more money, and more risk, but it’s useful to learn how to delegate on small projects before I end up being the bottleneck on large ones.

I picked someone with good ratings on the oDesk freelancing platform, told him what I was trying to accomplish, set him up with access to my development site, and backed everything up carefully just in case. Let’s see how this goes.

It can be difficult to let go, so I’ve been working on identifying more tasks to delegate. I make long lists of different kinds of activities that I do or want to do – well over two hundred activities like “Analyze my data” in the blogging category and “Clean the litter boxes” in the routines category.

Now I’m fleshing the list out in more detail, starting with the business category. I organized the business activities into the “earn”, “build”, and “connect” subcategories, which I’d been finding useful for my weekly reviews. Focusing on the “business – earn” category, I listed quite a few tasks that I can eliminate, automate, or delegate. For example, while I might outline a talk, I could get an assistant to look up prices and trends, design nifty graphics, or transcribe the presentation.

After I analyze my “business – earn” tasks, I’ll look at my “business – build” tasks. That will probably be harder to delegate, but maybe I’ll find surprising opportunities.

Optimizing non-business tasks such as cooking can also free up time that I can use to build the business. I want to make sure that I don’t end up tilted too far towards business, though, because life is awesome.

Listing all these activities makes it much easier to think about them. Which of these things are core? Where do I have an advantage, and what can other people do much more effectively than I can? What are my processes for these different activities, and how can I improve them? Can I estimate how much time I spend on these activities, and how can I time myself at that level of detail in order to verify my estimates?

One of these days – maybe after I’ve added some time estimates or measurements, or I have some more delegation experiences to report — I’ll put together a braindump of activities so that you can see what it’s like.

In the meantime, you might enjoy playing around with the idea yourself. Think about the things you regularly do, and make a list of as many things as possible. For each item, ask yourself:

  • Is this really something I need to do?
  • Can I automate most or all of the task? How? Is it worth the time/money/attention tradeoff?
  • Can I outsource or delegate it? How? Is it worth the time/money/attention tradeoff?