When it comes to delegating, especially for working moms, it can seem like a great idea, but can often be challenging when faced with actually doing it.  While it would be amazing to be Supermom and be able to do it all, you’re actually not doing yourself any favors, both personally or professionally, by not addressing the idea of delegating more.

I have yet to meet a working mom who isn’t pressed for time, who wouldn’t like more free time for herself and for her family, and who doesn’t feel varying degrees of burnout.  There’s no denying that no matter how many hours you work, being both an accountant and a mom is like having two full-time jobs.

Whether you are an accounting employee or an entrepreneur, you are also most likely faced with needing to delegate tasks to others or being delegated tasks to do.  It doesn’t matter whether you work for a company or run your own, delegating at work can also come with its own set of challenges for working moms.

For a lot of the accountant moms I speak to, the idea of delegating makes them uncomfortable because they feel as if asking for and getting help is in some way a sign of weakness.  As if they’re not able to hack it unless they can do it all and try not to complain about it.

Many of these working moms try to deny signs of burnout;  they’re unable to say no to requests and then feel the pressure of having to do things perfectly.  Frankly, most working moms are doing too much, feeling that their sense of worth is intertwined with how many balls they are able to juggle on their own and not drop.

If you can relate, I want you to think about this question – have you ever stopped to consider how much NOT delegating is costing you?  How much your time is worth, how you could be spending it in different ways that would either make you more money or give you back some much needed energy?

Whether you could use more time, experience less stress, or improve your work/life balance, it’s probably time to readdress the topic of delegating if you haven’t done it in a while.  Fortunately, you can still keep your Supermom cape even if you let others take over tasks that you believe are solely your responsibility.

If you know you probably should, but still have some resistance to delegating, first ask yourself what you think of when you hear the word delegate.  Do you think:

  • I don’t have anyone to delegate to
  • I don’t have time to teach someone to do what I need
  • I can’t afford to delegate
  • I hate to admit it, but nobody else can do things as well as I can

Maybe you think delegating means hiring and training more people, or that it’s too expensive, too time consuming, and that it’s just quicker and easier to do things yourself.  The trick when it comes to delegating is knowing that the sense of control you have by NOT delegating is due to fear.

To your lower, primitive brain, giving up control is scary and dangerous which is why it can seem so challenging.  It’s especially threatening to working moms to delegate when you have tied your sense of self worth and value to what you do, rather than recognizing your inherent self worth and value just being a human being.

The truth is that there is a better way to start giving up control, a little bit at a time, so that you can free yourself up to do the things that matter most.  There is no shame in acknowledging that you could use some help and, if you think about it, it just might be the thing you need in order to pursue a goal, to grow your business, or to manage your family.

This week on the podcast I’m going to discuss delegating tools for work and home as well as examples of things to delegate and automate.

Delegating tools for work and home

The first tool I’m going to share I learned from Kris Plachy, a business coach for female entrepreneurs.  What Kris explains is that before you delegate, you have to do a little work beforehand by deciding if what you’re asking someone to do is a “tactical” assignment or a “strategic” assignment.

A tactical assignment means that it is something that just needs to be done and that the process has already been figured out.  It’s something that you just don’t have the time to do and it would buy you time by having it executed by someone else.

Examples of tactical assignments at work would be sending the email sequence that was already created, e-filing the returns that are in queue, or making small changes to the blog page of your website.  Tactical assignments are things that you COULD do yourself, but your time would be better spent not doing.

A tactical assignment at home might look like emptying the dishwasher, starting dinner, or making sure the dog is fed and that if the pet food is running low, it’s on the grocery list.  Tactical assignments at home are the things that others are capable of doing, even if you believe you could do it better.

On the other hand, a strategic assignment is where a process doesn’t exist and you need someone else to take over, create a process, make a decision, or get a desired result.  A strategic assignment is where you are delegating to someone else’s mind, in order for them to figure out a process so that a certain result is achieved.

An example of a strategic assignment at work would be asking someone to research and implement a new secure file storage program.  That person would then create a process and teach others what the process is, freeing you up to focus on other things.

A strategic assignment at home might be letting your spouse know you want to get away to a cabin on a lake after busy season and letting them do the research and book the vacation.  Strategic assignments at home mean taking a big chunk off your plate and letting someone else have control, again, even if you believe you could do it better.

The key with this tool is making sure that when you delegate a task, you delineate between whether it is a tactical or strategic assignment and that you take full responsibility for communicating:

  • What needs to be done
  • By when
  • Asking what obstacles the other person anticipates
  • Discussing how you will know when it's done
  • Following up

Kris explains that the follow up is critical because it’s human nature to forget things and if you have a habit of not following up, that just starts to build an unhelpful rhythm and a level of mistrust.  She shares that In the beginning you will need to stay on top of things, to be clear about what you expect and to take full ownership if something wasn’t done, owning the fact that you weren’t clear enough in your communication if something didn’t get done.

This can be challenging for working moms because we tend to believe people are mind readers, and that they will always do what they were either told to do or said they would do.  But when you assume responsibility for the lack of clarity or the lack of results, you become much better at delegating and communicating what you need.

The key though is not then doing what someone didn’t do, or especially if they didn’t do it the way you wanted.  You must learn to follow up, provide feedback (both positive and negative), and allow them to learn and take ownership of the things you delegate without blaming them and putting the task back on your plate.

Another helpful tool for delegating is taking a piece of paper, dividing it into 2 columns, writing “Energizes” and “Drains” on the top of each column and putting everything you do in a given week in one of the columns, whether it’s at work or at home.  Don’t worry about who you’ll delegate anything to, just start looking at how the things that you do, actually affect you.

Now look at the column of things that drain you and consider the fact that if you are spending your days accomplishing things that drain you, you will burn out quickly.  It might not be possible or practical to delegate everything that drains you, but until you get honest with how you feel about the things you believe you have to do, you’ll always struggle with having balance.

If there are things that drain you, that you can’t delegate for legitimate reasons, then learning how to manage your mind when it comes to those tasks will be incredibly helpful.  If something is impossible to delegate and it drains you, the key is paying attention to what you think and say about that task; it’s always optional to make something less draining by the way you think about it.

The important thing to pay attention to is making sure that you’re not just saying you can’t delegate something because of how it would look to others if you delegated it.  Whatever you choose to do, or not do and delegate, you have to make sure you like your reasons.

I suggest that when it comes to work, really consider if your time could be better spent doing things that make more money, especially if delegating would cost you less than your time is worth.  For example, if there’s something you could delegate that normally takes you 10 hours a week and you’re billing at $150 an hour, finding someone that might initially take 20 hours at $25 an hour is worth it.

When it comes to things at home, you can’t even put a price on the gift of time, making delegating those things that drain you, priceless.   If letting the dry cleaner inexpensively press your husband’s work shirts frees up a few hours on Sunday afternoons, you might want to consider delegating that energy draining task and dropping the limiting belief that a “good wife” irons her husband’s shirts.

Begin to look around and pay attention to what you do and where you spend your time.  Whether it’s at work or at home, there are things you can start delegating and automating in order to make life easier, more productive and free up some precious time for the people and the things you love.

Examples of things to delegate and automate

Automation is definitely a hot topic for accounting professionals who are always looking for productivity hacks in order to get more done in less time.  Thankfully in this modern age of technology, you have the ability to address what only you can do or want to do, and delegate or automate a lot.

Although it can be challenging, as an accountant mom it’s important to question whether something really has to be done by you, because a lot of the time it doesn’t; it just seems that way because you’re used to it being that way.  Unfortunately working moms have this unspoken belief that we have to do it all in order to be a good mom, good spouse, or good person.

When you add the typical accountant’s issues with perfectionism to the societal messages women get from social media about the perfect version of other people’s lives, we start to believe that those unrealistic standards are to be achieved.  If we could all just drop the rope in the tug-of-war between making our lives easier and doing less things really well, versus holding onto the pride of doing it all, we’d have much more balanced, stress-free lives.

Recently there was a funny YouTube video that showed a woman showing her family how to do things around the house like how to put the toilet paper on the roll and how to fold a towel, all while the family followed her around the house, taking notes and nodding as they learned these simple tasks.  As she showed them each task, they had comical expressions of surprise, as if they were learning something for the first time.

While the video was funny and poking fun at the typical lack of help women get at home, it’s also a great reminder that teaching and communicating your desired result might take a little effort, but will be well worth it in the long run.  Whether it’s an employee, someone you supervise, or your family, taking things off your plate is not only possible, but imperative if you want a balanced life.

Here are some of the things I recommend automating or delegating, whether it’s at work or at home:

  1. Automate grocery shopping – if you can have your groceries delivered, I highly recommend doing it.  I have been ordering from Stop & Shop for years and years.  It has freed up so much of my time and has also saved me a lot of money because I only buy what I need as opposed to wandering around the store grabbing things I think I need, but I don’t.
  2. Delegate work tasks – are there things that you’re used to doing that aren’t cost effective at your billing rate?  Ordering office supplies, sending reminder emails to clients, organizing documents, etc. are all things that almost anyone can do.  This week keep a list of everything you do in a week and spend a little time addressing how much time you could free up to do other more important things.  Consider passing at least 3 tasks to someone else, whether it’s someone in the office or a sub-contractor.
  3. Automate your schedule – one of the greatest time savers every accountant mom needs is a better time management system where you calendar everything you have on your to-do list and then throw the to-do list away.  When you decide what to do and when, you are using the higher decision making part of your brain which means all you have to do is follow the schedule you create.  I strongly suggest that you also start creating time habits, where you do the same thing each week like Mondays at 8 am you pay bills, Fridays at 7 am you order your groceries online, etc.
  4. Delegate household chores – teaching your children how to do certain household chores is such an important part of learning.  It’s never too early or too late to teach your children about responsibility.  But do NOT let the frustration of teaching them how to do things versus doing it yourself, stop you from delegating.  Make sure you are clear with your children about what needs to be done, set your expectations, verbalize it, and follow up.  Taking care of pets, doing dishes, doing laundry, meal prep, etc. are all things children can handle at various ages.
  5. Automate important relationships – this might sound strange, but automating the things you do with the important people in your life, pays big dividends in the long term.  For example, my husband and I have had date night almost every Wednesday night for our entire 12 year marriage.  Making that time as non-negotiable as possible has made our relationship better and better over time.  For years I have also had standing “dates” to talk to certain friends every week on a particular day at a particular time.  It really does help us to not take our relationships for granted.

These are just a few suggestions, but from hiring a virtual assistant for your work needs, to using an online personal shopper like Stitch Fix for your clothes, there are so many more options for automating and delegating the things that would help you achieve more balance and lessen your stress.  Remember, you still get to keep the Supermom cape no matter who helps you do what you do.

Summary 

  • There’s no denying that no matter how many hours you work, being both an accountant and a mom is like having two full-time jobs.
  • Whether you could use more time, experience less stress, or improve your work/life balance, it’s probably time to readdress the topic of delegating if you haven’t done it in a while.
  • Whether it’s at work or at home, there are things you can start delegating and automating in order to make life easier, more productive and free up some precious time for the people and the things you love.
  • Whether it’s an employee, someone you supervise, or your family, taking things off your plate is not only possible, but imperative if you want a balanced life.