3 Hacks to Increase Productivity (& why delegating is the LAST thing you should do)

3 HACKS TO PRODUCTIVITYDon’t misunderstand me… delegation is important, and is the backbone of any good productivity system (or business for that matter).  However, most people delegate way too early in the process (and rely on it too much) that it ends up costing themselves more time, energy and money.


Case in point

Years ago, when my husband and I first moved in together, our little condo was a chaotic mess to say the least… condensing two households down to 854 square feet… what an undertaking!

So, I hired an organizational consultant to help my husband and me organize or tiny-weenie condo and went to bed that night with dreams of Elfa shelving and IKEA cubes dancing through my head.

But guess what?  Not one IKEA cube or new Elfa shelf was purchased.

Instead, I paid the organizational consultant to sit there and go through all of our stuff and create a garbage pile and donation box (right down to the broken ping pong table… duh!).

Low and behold, we had the instant space to co-exist (and not kill each other;)… AND we had graciously handed over our “entertainment” money for the next two months… to someone else.

Needless to say, we had jumped the gun in hiring help when the solution to our problem was so much simpler.

But, I’m not judging… It is very hard to see the forest for all of the trees.

So if, delegation is the last thing you should do…


What needs to happen first?

There are two big steps that precede the masterful step of delegation (or hiring help).  Let’s break ‘em down.

Step 1 – Eliminate

Get rid of all of the tasks, appointments and distractions that rob you of your focus and time… the stuff really you know you really shouldn’t be doing.  Need a little direction? Check out this exercise and this exercise.

I wish I could tell you that this is a one and done process, but it’s not.  It’s worthwhile to do a big “clean house” every couple of months or so until you have it really dialed in.

Step 2 – Automate

Ari Meisel of Less Doing, More Living says in order to delegate properly, you should write a “manual of you” (I’m from the business world, so I call it your Ops Manual).

So, what goes in your manual of you?  Think anything that you can make a checklist or routine out of… grocery list, packing lists for trips, regular errands you run each week/month, business processes… anything that you repeat regularly.

Once you have your lists, eliminate any step of the process that isn’t absolutely necessary.  Make it super simple that a 5 year old could understand it.  Doing this makes you aware of just how much brain power and time you are wasting.   Also, creating your Ops Manual allows you to delegate much quicker if in a pinch (like getting sick or heading out of town).

Here are some of my fave tools to use that help me automate:

  • Google Drive – The new iteration of Google Docs, create folders for projects and so you can quickly share resources (not email them) with business partners.  This also works well with families and sharing important family, financial, or medical docs.  You can also post your Manual of You here and share as needed.
  • Google Calendar – Have one calendar for your household and that can be shared and updated.  You can even color code appointments if you want.  The biggest trick is to set the automated email and text reminders in Google to go to the right people at the right times.
  • Mint.com – Connect all of your accounts and set up alerts to know when bills are due and when account balances are low. Never be late for a bill again or overdraw your accounts.
  • IFTTT.com – Set up recipes to automatically text you the weather report for they next day (remind you to bring your umbrella), back up your Smartphone pictures, turn off the house lights, or even turn off the ringer on your phone when you go into a meeting (yep… it’s that slick).  The combinations are endless.  Here are the recipes I use most often.

Step 3 – Delegate

Once you have eliminated everything you shouldn’t be doing and steps that are unnecessary, automated some of the more routine processes, it now makes sense to delegate.  Why spend the time, money and energy to delegate a task that isn’t necessary or that can be put on auto-pilot?

But you shouldn’t just delegate anything… and this is another sticking point for most.  Don’t delegate anything that only you can do or are directly responsible for.

What you should delegate are those things that are robbing your time and focus, things that you know you shouldn’t be working on (like your Avoid-At-All Cost list) or things that someone else can do waaaay better in faaaar less time (think craft and specialty).

Here are some ideas to help you delegate:

  • Figure out those household chores that are eating up your time and train your kids and spouse to do them rather than hiring a housekeeper.  Everyone will be far more vested in their space and you get to keep some bucks in your pocket.  Pricing – $0 to an allowance or small bribe.
  • Fiverr.com is a site I use regularly for smaller tasks that can be done virtually (think web and design help).  You can even have someone sing your honey happy birthday in an Irish brogue if you wanted.  Pricing starts at $5 for the “gig” and goes up from there.
  • Elance.com is great for finding professionals to outsource a project to who can bid on your job.  Pricing varies based on the scope of the project and specialty.
  • AssitU.com, Odesk.com and FancyHands.com are all virtual assistant platforms.  A virtual assistant (VA for short) can be useful for outsourcing paying bills, researching travel plans, making dinner reservations, or finding a summer camp program.  Pricing is by the hour and can vary greatly.  However, a VA is super focused and can (better yet…will) knock out all of those smaller tasks at lightning fast speed that could take you all morning to do.


Summing it up

Delegation is the backbone of any good productivity system, but remember it is the LAST step in a process.  Start by optimizing than automating, before finally delegating. Optimize first so you don’t waste time automating a process that doesn’t need to happen or pay someone to do a task that doesn’t actually need to be done.  Take all that time, energy and money you’ll save and get back to living life.


Life’s short.  So, make shi(f)t happen!


PS. Know someone who could use a little help getting their shi(f)t together?  Send them this post.

About The Author


Whitney, author of the forthcoming book "Making Your Shi(f)t Happen: A 6 week bootcamp to prioritize, organize, and simplify your life", helps professionals get waaaay more done in far less time (with far less stress), so they can get back to the important things in life. She is a wife, mom and lifestyle strategist. Grab her FREE videos here.