There are numerous daily tasks… take the car to the mechanic, have the bike tuned by the bike shop, take clothes to the dry cleaner and buy ready-prepared foods. Some of us have nannies, maids and gardeners and some have personal trainers and CPA’s. It’s important to figure out when delegating tasks is more efficient and we should handle it ourselves.
Generally, anything that nobody can do except you should stay in-house. Sorry, gotta brush your own teeth and probably gotta see your own patients if you are employed. For that matter, if a task generates a lot of income for you chances are you need to do it yourself.
Daily Tasks and Responsibilities
Today I sat down and made a list of everything that I do routinely. Read the list and you’ll know what I mean:
- my commute to work (I don’t have a car, I bike)
- reading books
- leadership role at work dealing with other docs
- checking my email
- checking my snail mail
- working out at the gym
- motivating myself to be productive
- buying groceries
- cooking and preparing meals
- writing for this website
- managing my investments
- doing taxes
- doing laundry
- repairing and maintaining my bike
- cleaning my apartment
- paying bills
Back in the day I employed a maid, I would eat out mostly, I would use a dry cleaner, I had a tax guy and a financial adviser. I was delegating tasks out to those individuals.
For a while I even tried to see if I would be more productive having a personal assistant. This person prepared some snacks for me, handled all my snail mail and reorganized my place along with all my documents. At $10/hr she was very effective in getting my diplomas framed, my documents digitized and my living space organized.
Delegating tasks to her was a good way to get the things done that I didn’t have time to accomplish myself. However, I sucked at actually delegating tasks to her.
The Price of Delegating Tasks
It’s easy to cross over the point of efficiency and convenience/luxury. I had to earn quite a bit more in order to afford delegating tasks. If I was spending that free time furthering my career or developing extra income streams it may have been worthwhile.
The math in my cases didn’t make sense long-term which is how finally came around to this low expense lifestyle. Had I been more efficient at delegating tasks it would be a different story.
There is a peace of mind component and a financial component. If you are working part-time with a big overhead and debt obligations then your money will have more value if it’s used to pay back debt or invested. Money invested early in one’s career has a longer time frame to compound and grow. If you are working a part-time job for flexibility as a single parent perhaps hiring a full-time nanny at $35k/yr would make more sense. By going full-time you may not only get better benefits but higher pay and more job security. You may be away from your kids more, that’s something to consider as well.
So, back to me, Dr. Mo – no kids, little tiny apartment, <$2,000/mo of expenses… I could take the train to commute to work which would cut back on my time on the road but would get rid of my exercise time and podcast listening time.
As for reading books, yes, I can listen to audiobooks, slightly higher cost but well worth the farming out. The leadership role, well that one has to stay in-house, nobody can do that more effectively than me (well, nobody that I can hire at least).
My email is already being somewhat farmed out, I have spam folders and other automatic folders for certain messages to go to so that my attention isn’t being taxed. The snail mail I definitely could farm out… something to consider. The only other things on that list that I could effectively delegate are doing my taxes, managing my investments and my bike repair/maintenance.
Delegating Tasks – How To Choose
I recommend that everyone learn how to work on their own mode of transportation, if it is something you operate. You never know when that service may no longer be around or too expensive to get.
If you have never done your own taxes then learn to do them, you are going to make some mistakes but you will learn a lot.
If you haven’t managed your own finances I also recommend tackling that department. Once you understand investments and the various financial vehicles out there you will be much more effective at hiring someone who can do that for you in the future.
Delegating tasks by hiring others isn’t the hard part, making sure you aren’t scammed is and if you can identify the charlatan off the bat it will save you a lot of headache and money.
The Value of Your Attention
It’s so easy for us to get spread out too thin. When you start the day by checking email, answering a few phone calls, and having to remind yourself to pick up your friend at the airport after work you are left with very little computing power and problem solving abilities.
Your brain runs on 15 watts, anything beyond that will get dealt with very inefficiently. Plenty of studies show that your brain is actually able to only focus fully on one task at a time. You are able to complete all those tasks even when done simultaneously.
However, the stress level creates a cycle of inefficiency which affects future task qualities. Delegating tasks to others will allow you to be much more potent, efficient and effective when dealing with the things that truly demand your attention.
Now that I’m getting closer to ‘retiring‘ I would benefit from strategically delegating tasks to a professional. Their hourly wage may be as high as mine if not higher, however the peace of mind I will have is much more valuable. I will also be able to spend more of my time working on other income streams, pursuing other passions and developing a better work life balance. It might even make sense to offset some of that cost by working an extra 10 hours every couple of months.