Delegation | Giftie Etcetera: Delegation

Thursday, September 10, 2009


On my quest to get organized, I had to learn to let others do things for me. Not having control sucks. Sucks big rocks. Big, unorganized rocks. Just sayin'.

I was watching the Duggars one day (aside - yes, usually I disagree with them...but they are truly good people with kind hearts), and the mom mentioned how she was helping her friends and that accepting help is a good lesson in humility. It truly is. When I was on bedrest, my friend Karla offered to bring me food. She is allegedly a great cook, but I never accepted. It made me nervous. I regret that. She is wonderful and, had I showed humility, I would have accepted her offer and ate a fabulous meal.

So I am working on it. I am denying my nature. I am delegating.

Delegating at home and work is different. At work, I'm Rachel's boss. Rachel understands that I am a bit anal (if she reads this, and she might, she'll totally comment, "A bit? Ha!"). I understand that I need to leave her alone and let her do her job, which, by the way, she is much better at than I am. But because I am running a business (so, if a bill doesn't get paid, I become jobless) and am a lawyer (who can get sued or arrested for failure to do important stuff), I need to keep track of what she is doing. We have a system where all assignments (except routine filing, mail processing, answering phones, and keeping the office clean) go out by e-mail. Here's the thing, SAHMs: this system might work with your husband. Husband's read e-mail! So pay attention. :)

I send her an e-mail, with a due date, a notation if a document is attached, and a description of what to do. I keep a copy of the e-mail in a folder on my e-mail server called Rachel. And once the assignment is done, she sends me an e-mail that says DONE. If she calls in sick, I can instantly look in her e-mail folder and see what needs to be done. Oh, and the e-mail program I use sorts by date, so I can see how much I've assigned out. When I get a "DONE" e-mail, I delete both the original and the "DONE" e-mail.

At home, delegating is much harder. Alan is mostly in charge of the laundry, dishes, and deep cleaning (like the occasional dusting and vacumming before parties and the bathrooms). I am mostly in charge of day-to-day putting things away, preparing stuff to leave the house (diaper bags, birthday presents, etc.), RSVP'ing and scheduling for the family, cleaning the kitchen (except the floor, which is Alan's), the trash except on trash day (when Alan does it), and any organizing in the entire house. Mostly, we just ask each other for help when we need it.

But I am about to hire someone to help and I am nervous about making it work. I need someone to cut the grass. I'll probably call my godchild, but he is so busy with work that I might have to hire a neighbor. I'm hiring a housekeeper to come in every other week, but I suspect, right at first, she'll need to come in a couple of long sessions, because the house is THAT bad. I'm thinking I'll have her deep clean all seven rooms (kitchen, living room, guest bath, our bath, our room, Ander's room, and Loki's room), then have her regularly maintain the kitchen and the living room and our bathroom every other week, plus one bedroom a month and our guest bathroom during the other monthly visit. I think I'll make a little schedule on the fridge and attach the check and any special instructions to the schedule. I know the housekeeper, so I'll probably hide a spare key (only on the day she is coming to my house) for her to let herself in. Is it okay to leave a batch of towels to fold or sheets that are cleaned to remake the beds? I am also interested in hiring someone to grocery shop for us, especially since Alan and I basically have the same grocery list every week. I think my sister might be interested, but she's really busy, and I'm not sure if it would be worth it for her to come to Ascension Parish. On the other hand, she could shop for her own groceries and the same time, and the way she eats, my payment to her would almost cover her groceries. :)

I also delegate to the kids. Yes, Loki only turns one in a couple of weeks, but he can throw blocks back into the container. I expect him to do so and make it a game. Ander can clean the living room (put blankets in the ottoman, put pillows in his room, put toys in the poroper rooms, and put shoes away) by himself. He can clean his room with just a little guidance. He can put his plate away in the sink and his milk cup in the frig. He gets little stickers on a chart for helping, but it is expected (meaning he would get punished) anyway. Still, we try to make it fun and he is really great about it.



Mathochist said...

Delegating is good. Families, like businesses, run much more smoothly when everyone involved has their own jobs, knows what they are and how to do them, and actually does them. I strive for that at my house. We are light years from it, but a woman can dream!

I've had a housekeeper for 4 years now, plus 1-2 when I lived in WY. It is a very worthwhile investment, especially when mom and dad both work.

Brien Louque said...

Kristy, a lot of housekeepers will actually do your laundry, including folding and putting away or changing sheets, but that has to be discussed in advanced so that the price quoted is appropriate to the work being done. Also, having a list of items to do is invaluable - it makes sure that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done. You can put one special item each time to do along with what would be considered tasks for every cleaning (for instance, you might put down "cleaning fan blades" one time and "clean baseboards" the next).

As far as delegating at work, do you use Outlook? Because you can create tasks in Outlook, assign a time, categorize them, and then assign to a person. It will then show up in their task list, but whenever they update their task it shows up on your task list. I ususally have people update the percentage as they work on items. Some, obviously, are not something that can be broken down by percentage, in which case I allocate three percentage stages that they can set: 90% (completed task), 95% (customer has verified that everything is as it should be) and 100% (successfully implemented). It's especially nice to have in one place, so I can sort all tasks (those I've got and those other people have) and go through coming up tasks to check on their status if need be.

Mathochist said...

Brien, do you have to be on an Exchange server to do that? Or will 2 standalone Outlooks on 2 different PCs share tasks like that?

Brien Louque said...

My understanding is that two outlook clients should be able to do it (it looks like it's just sending emails back and forth and automatically updating status that way) but I can't say that's definitely what happens. Let me research it a bit and I'll let you know.

Mathochist said...

Yeah, that would make sense (now that I stop to actually think about it! LOL!) Jeff and I have shared appointments in the same way, via email, so there's no reason it shouldn't work with tasks as well.