shutterstock_223070134We all fall into the trap of spending time doing things that are better done by someone else – be it at home or at work. We often know we’re doing it, but choose to do it anyways. We just can’t seem to help ourselves!

Several years ago, I attended a parenting session that challenged participants to identify the things they are doing for their children that they should be doing for themselves. It was a great wake-up call for me. As a parent of junior elementary students, there were definitely things that I was doing out of habit that I needed to let go of.

The presenter from Parenting Power challenged us to get over our reasons for doing these things in the first place. It’s just so much faster if I do it myself. What if he forgets to put his skates in his hockey bag and he can’t play in the game? Not only will he let his team down, but I’ve paid for it so skate he must! It’s often about control.

Even the simplest change can have a big impact. I stopped waking up my son for school and let him use an alarm clock. It changed our whole morning! I was less frustrated trying to gently coax him out of bed and started the day much happier, which is definitely a good thing. And to my surprise, my son seemed really proud and would pop out of bed promptly upon the sound of the alarm. We each suddenly had more time in the morning.

When we allow our need for control to win, we lose sight of what can be gained from letting our children progressively do more things for themselves. When we let go we are encouraging responsibility, developing independence and giving our children an opportunity to learn and grow. We are also freeing up our own time to do other things. That’s definitely a good enough reason for me to let go.

The same thinking applies at work. As a business owner, leader or manager, what are you doing for your people that they should be doing for themselves?

What opportunities to learn and grow are you taking away because it would be faster if you did it yourself or you think you could do a better job or you think you’re saving someone else the hassle? And to all of you with micro-managing tendencies, what are you doing that someone else is actually more capable at doing than you?

And since there is only so much time in the day (and night for that matter), what should you be doing that you are not?

Be honest now. Think back over yesterday…the day before…the day before that. You’ll find something because it’s an easy trap to fall into if you let it.

When you get over your excuses and let the work be done at the right level, you increase your capacity to do other things. It’s that simple. Lack of capacity is a real issue. It limits our ability to grow our businesses and to achieve a healthy balance in life (among so many others).

Choose wisely when you consider what to do with this new free time. Don’t let is get consumed with meaningless tasks or time wasters. Find something that will help you achieve your goals (personal or business). You may choose to spend it updating or advancing your strategic plan. You may spend it mentoring a high potential employee. Or you may take the afternoon off to hit the gym, so you’re more focused, energized and effective tomorrow.

My challenge to you as you go about your day today, tomorrow and everyday is to ask yourself if you are doing something that someone else should be doing. When you find it, and you will, STOP DOING IT! And delegate it to the right person.

One thing you must STOP doing right now…
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