Don’t Let Perfect Become the Enemy of Progress

Nobody can do it like Eric! This was my motto early into my career as a District Manager in the automotive industry. I was responsible for five hundred employees and had seventeen managers that reported to me. My desire to delegate was low because I felt that if I wanted it done right, I had to do it. My days started early in the morning and ended late at night. I had limited free time and large amounts of stress. 

I then made the following discovery that helped me move from burnout to breakthrough: My desire for perfection was the root cause of my failure to delegate. I had allowed perfect to become the enemy of progress. So how can you avoid making the same mistake that I did?  Below are two steps that will help you to become a more effective delegator and break the perfectionist habit. 

Calculate Your Time Value
The first step that helped me to become more willing to delegate was to calculate how much my time was really worth. Start by taking your desired annual income and dividing by 52 weeks. For example, let’s assume that your annual goal is to make at least $110,000. One hundred and ten thousand divided by fifty two is two thousand one hundred fifteen dollars. Next, you take the weekly dollars and divide by the average hours you work in a week. If you work a 50 hour work week your time is worth $42/hour. Now that you know how much your time is worth, you can use this to determine if the task is worthy of your time. If the task is not a $42/hour task, then it can be delegated. 

I am often asked by business owners that work alone if they should hire a personal assistant. We have done the math and determined that their time is worth more than $60/hour in several cases. Paying someone ten dollars an hour to do the book keeping, make follow up calls, and schedule appointments is a smart investment that has created more time for them. 

Create a Follow-Up System
The lack of a consistent follow-up system is a major reason for the fear and failure to delegate. Many an entrepreneur has been burned by a task that they delegated to an employee that never got done. The key to successful delegation is to establish how you plan to follow-up BEFORE you assign the task. For example, most email providers allow you to schedule reminders on emails that you have sent that have not been responded to. You can set it up so that you get an email in your inbox in 24 hours that reminds you that you need to follow-up. 

When I was a District Manager, I used my “How will I know?” follow up system whenever I delegated an important task. I would ask the manager “How will I know when this is done?” They would tell me that they would call me to let me know. “Great, when can I expect your call?” was my next question. I would then put it on my phone calendar and set an alert that reminded me to follow up. 

Calculating your time value and creating a follow up system will make you a more effective delegator and help you to break the perfectionist habit. Stay tuned for the next Twiggs Time Tip. Or read more in the world’s most complete Time Management EBook for executives and entrepreneurs.