It was mid-day… I had a second cup of coffee fueling my current work sprint, and felt increasingly frustrated. My briefcase sat next to me, filled with a pile of business cards that I had been handed at a tradeshow in Dubai about 72 hours before.
I was about 10 minutes into a task where I was logged into my CRM, typing in details from each business card.
“Five down, only forty more to go…” I sighed deeply and thought, “What am I doing here?”
Suddenly, the words of Craig Ballantyne rang through my head:
“The kiss of death for an entrepreneur are the five words: ‘I will do it myself.’”
Here I was, a self-employed professional whose time is worth hundreds of dollars an hour – and I was doing a task that could be completed for much less money… and zero of my time.
I picked up the phone and called my assistant Maddy. I explained what I had started doing, and she laughed. “I’ll come by tomorrow and will have a spreadsheet with all the contacts by evening.”
When Maddy came over to pick up the pile of business cards, I apologized profusely. “Maddy I’m so sorry that I’m having you do this data entry. I know this has to be a pain in the butt.”
She said, “Why are you apologizing? I love doing this kind of stuff. It’s relaxing for me. I’ll have a great time doing it today!”
I thought she was kidding, but no – she was dead serious. She actually finds data entry projects relaxing and rewarding.
Then it hit me… I’m holding onto way too many tasks.
Not only am I holding onto tasks for too long, but I’m not allowing myself to hand work to someone way more capable than myself – who will actually ENJOY doing the work!
Mind = blown.
The A.D.E. Formula
One of the first things my coach Ron Mourra at Early to Rise taught me was how to apply the A.D.E. Formula inside of my work.
He’d ask me, “Galel, what can you Automate, what can you Delegate, and what can you Eliminate from your daily and weekly tasks so that you can focus on your zone of genius?”
I’m going to challenge you to ask yourself the same question today.
My stress and anxiety were cut in half by applying the A.D.E. Formula in all aspects of my life.
Automate: I was previously inundated by support emails inside of our affiliate program that came straight to my inbox. Emails were getting lost, fell through the cracks, and sometimes people’s support requests went several days without an answer.
Working with the CTO, we came up with a help ticket system that logs the emails in a central place and allows for a way to send canned responses for our most frequently asked questions. More complex issues are responded to by the affiliate manager who is online at a given time.
Delegate: I hired Maddy, an assistant whose “zone of genius” is organization, scheduling, graphic design, emails, and much more.
Now, Maddy handles anything related to juggling projects, my schedule and keeping me organized. We meet on Mondays to get in alignment for the week. We identify the biggest projects and what I’ll need support on. We talk everyday throughout the week, but then connect on Friday to begin planning for the next week.
Eliminate: I stopped handling our compliance issues. I had been spending HOURS dealing with compliance issues. It was a process that involved me looking up website owners and contacting them to update their website content.
In December, I trained Maddy by recording a series of videos using Loom, an awesome screen recording tool. Now, she researches and sends out compliance emails on my behalf. When someone doesn’t comply, I can then take action based upon the information passed along by our attorney.
How can you apply the A.D.E. Formula in other areas of your life?
Consistently ask yourself the question, “Should I be doing this task?”
Now that you’ve identified areas that you should delegate, it’s essential that you know how proper delegation takes place.
3 Steps for Proper Delegation
Confession: For many years, I was the guy who wore my non-delegation skills with great pride.
“Nobody can do it as well as I can!” or saying things like, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself!”
What a load of nonsense.
For you to maximize your hourly rate of pay, you should be focused on doing your highest and best work. As Craig says in the Perfect Week Formula: “You can’t make $1,000 an hour if you’re doing $10 an hour tasks.”
So, now you know why you should delegate; perhaps you have your sights set on what you need to delegate.
The next step is figuring out HOW to delegate tasks and projects properly.
- You Must Set Appropriate Expectations
Retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink is famous for saying, “Discipline equals freedom.” Why would discipline give you freedom?
Creating boundaries gives you a space to play in. It gives you the rules of engagement. Isn’t it easier to win a game if you know the rules?
Delegation is the same. You can delegate with so much less stress and anxiety if you set expectations.
When you set expectations, it creates freedom for the person you’re delegating to. You’re letting them know in clear terms what you expect and in what timeframe.
Example: “Please take this stack of business cards and create a spreadsheet with their contact information in a format that we can use to import into the CRM. Can you complete this project by Wednesday at 3pm Pacific?”
If that deadline is unrealistic, your teammate must communicate that to you during the delegation process.
- You Must Stick to Deadlines
The following suggestions are based on the assumption that one of your non-negotiable practices is sticking to your calendar.
Put your project deadlines in your calendar to know when you can expect to receive deliverables.
You want your teammates to know that your deadlines must be met. This isn’t meant to be authoritarian; sticking with deadlines is meant to help reduce your stress and set appropriate expectations.
This leads to the next part about delegation, which ties directly to leadership.
- Be Willing to Have Difficult Conversations
It’s a hard reality that people will let us down.
This is part of being a leader. It’s the unfortunate side of being an entrepreneur… The fact is, people will let us down.
Instead of continuing to allow someone to fail, we need to let them go to allow them to thrive in another workplace.
Don’t shy away from having difficult conversations. Neglecting those conversations will increase your resentment as frustration builds over time.
Delegation = Freedom
The quickest way to reduce your stress and increase your happiness is to delegate.
Evaluate your tasks daily. If there are tasks you’re doing that are below your rate of pay – stop doing them. Apply the A.D.E Formula!
If there are tasks you loathe doing, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this task?” Consider whether others on your team should handle those tasks.
Remember: There is someone out there who LOVES the tasks you can’t stand doing. Give them a chance to work in their areas of expertise so that you can take your best talents to the marketplace.
If you need guidance because you’re frustrated about handling too much and not having enough time, I encourage you to contact the team at Early to Rise. They will help teach you delegation and also hold you accountable. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Coaching” to talk with a program director to learn more.