In Part 2 of this series, I asked you to write down all of the roles you play (hats you wear), and identify those that you believe believe you were uniquely called to do, at least for this season. I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about the actual tasks or activities.
Have you ever said or thought something like, “There just isn’t enough time to get it all done!” The truth is, there isn’t enough time to do everything you are currently doing. Before you close this window, I want you to hear me. There isn’t enough time to do everything you are currently doing. As moms, wives, dreamers, we pile our plates so high, it is physically impossible to get it all done. On top of that, we set unrealistic expectations regarding everything on the plate. We leave ourselves feeling exhausted, behind, and unsuccessful.
This next exercise is an important key to time management. I’m not going to show you how to whittle time out of a tree. Instead, I am going to show you how to reuse the time that you do have so that you are maximizing the achievement of those roles you circled in the last part. Deal? Let’s get to it.
Step 1: List your tasks
The first thing we need to do is understand how you are using your time. Take out a piece of paper or open up a Word or Excel file, and just start listing all of the activities that you do. Start with your morning, work through a day, week, month, and even seasonal things like “decorate for the holidays” and “send Christmas cards”. There isn’t enough time in a lifetime or paper on this planet to write down every single thing you do, but go ahead and get a good list going. This is about increasing your awareness of how you are spending your time and changing your mindset around each of those activities.
Go ahead. Take a good 10-15 minutes to think through this step. When you are ready, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Label those tasks
Now that you have a good list to start from, I want you to start from the top and label each task as Keep, Delegate, or Eliminate. Hold on. Before you get going with that, I want to make sure you understand what each label represents. Yes, I know they are self-explanatory, but I ask you to take another 90 seconds to read about each label.
To identify an activity or task as one you will keep, it must meet all three of the following criteria. Not just one; all three.
- It brings you joy. Just like Marie Kondo says to only keep items in your house that spark joy, I am asking you to only keep tasks that bring you joy. Do you enjoy doing this activity? Does it bring you a sense of peace? Is it something you want to keep doing? Note that these labels are fluid. You may enjoy something now and not later. That is fine. For now, it meets the first criterion for a keeper.
- You must be uniquely gifted or otherwise equipped to complete this task. Others may be able to do it, but they can’t do it as well as you. You have a special knowledge, skill, ability, or characteristic that qualifies you to do this activity, or because of who you are (mother, daughter, wife, etc.), you are uniquely positioned to perform the task.
- It moves the needle in your life, in your purpose, in an essential function you identified in Part 2 of this series. You identified those as essential because they were critical for achievement of your purpose here on earth, what you will be evaluated on. If a task does not align with one of those, it raises the question of whether or not it actually moves the needle in your life. If you choose to keep a task that does not align, know that you are doing it at the risk of something that does. Saying “yes” to one thing is saying “no” or “not now” to something else. Just make sure you are aware of when you are making that choice and self-correct if possible. I will talk more about this in Part 4.
Now that you know what qualifies as a keeper, you can go ahead and read through your list to identify all of the tasks to keep. I personally prefer to read about the next two labels and do it all at once, but you do you. When you’re ready, keep reading.
Delegate items are important to get done, but you don’t necessarily have to be the one to do them or shouldn’t be doing them. These items can be tricky. Since keep items require meeting all three of the listed criteria, there may be some really good items that by default fall into the delegate category. There are also things that just must get done. Just because they don’t spark joy doesn’t mean you can just skip away laughing. Somehow, they still likely fall onto your shoulders to “figure out” what to do with them.
Also, I want you to rest assured that just because a task is labeled delegate, and you may be excited to get to delegatin’, that doesn’t mean that you are actually in a position to delegate it. Perhaps your spouse works long hours or travels. Maybe you are a single parent. Perhaps you are happy to give up your j-o-b, but you aren’t in a position to do that just yet. Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of tasks that just can’t be ignored simply because we have labeled them to delegate.
Ultimately, the goal is to remove as many of these tasks as possible and spend your time on tasks in the keep pile. As soon as possible, begin delegating those activities. Physically write down the name of the person or how those items will be delegated (i.e., dishes – children rotate, floors – housekeeper, grocery shopping – hubs). Once you have identified a delegatee (it doesn’t look like that’s actually a word…), it’s important to talk to them about it, Set expectations and move forward. Otherwise, you will just have a beautifully labeled list of tasks.
The final label is eliminate. Tasks in this category are things that you don’t need to do and likely no one needs to be doing them. They don’t spark joy, you aren’t particularly gifted to do them, and they certainly don’t align with your purpose. You may look at your list and think this category is pretty slim. That’s because we often don’t even think of these items as tasks. They are often time-wasters. Things like scrolling social media, watching TV, excessive planning / organizing. These are things we do without even thinking. Since we don’t consider them “tasks”, we don’t account for them in our day, yet they often consume a considerable amount of time.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and take some time to label each and every task with keep, delegate, or eliminate.
Step 3: Change your mindset
This activity of listing out and labeling your activities is about increase your awareness and viewing your daily activities a little differently. When you find yourself doing an activity, ask yourself whether it is a keep, delegate, or eliminate item. If it is delegate, identify someone to do it as soon as possible. If it is an eliminate item, stop doing it immediately. As you begin to move activities off of your list, I know you will find more peace and more time to do the activities that move the needle on the things that are most important to you and fulfilling your purpose. As always, this is not a destination but a journey. With each task that gets reassigned in your mind, you are moving closer to fulfilling the exciting purpose you were uniquely created to do.
In the next part, we will focus on alignment of your tasks and essential functions. Until then, get busy delegating!