3 Magic Words Every Parent Needs to Know
Why do you need to know these three words as a parent? Because they're so magic they will help you share the load and increase productivity WITHOUT tantrums, tears or arguments.
You're reading this thinking, is she crazy? Are there really three words that are going to change the way I can plan so that I can share the load? Too right!
These three magical words are:
What do I mean by ditch? Have a look at your list of things that need to be done. Have a look at everyone else’s things that need to be done. Is there a crossover on that list, on that day, for that person? Does that thing reeeallly need to be done that day? If not, ditch it. Move it to another day, or get rid of it completely. What does that do for your stress levels? A whole lot I’d say. The process of ditching something or getting rid of it can be oh so wonderful. Think of getting rid of physical items — how good does it feel to finally sort out all that crap in the garage that’s been there for months? Brilliant! Think of your mind as the garage. When you’ve finally decided to get rid of things that aren’t working for you, or that you don’t need to do, boom! Mind cleared, stress resolved.
But what if I really need to do it but it clashes with someone else’s plans or something else you need to do. Delegate it! No one to delegate to? This is your homework. Let me explain why delegation is important.
If you’ve ever been a part of a team in a workplace or on the sports field, you will understand that each member of a team brings their own skills or expertise, and they are generally chosen because of those skills. But how often have you been in a team where someone thinks that things will be better if they just do it all themselves. It would be like the cashier at McDonald's deciding to make the burgers, wrap them up, slide them down the slide to the register, package up the chips and drinks and give it to the customer. Would it work? Yes. Absolutely. Would it be done efficiently? I think not.
Everyone's on the Team
Thoughts like, I’ll do a better job, he’ll resent me if I ask him, it’ll get done quicker if I just do it myself are not positive for anyone on the team. Not only does it burden the apparent ‘leader’ with the responsibility of everything, but it also doesn’t give the other team members a chance to shine, a chance to contribute and prove their worth. There are countless times that my kids, even the 18-month-old, have come up to me and asked or gestured to help with the mopping or sweeping up from dinner. Do I let them do it? Absolutely! Delegation and sharing the load are so very important because the opposite leads to a never-ending rollercoaster of too much to do and not enough time.
Now obviously you can’t delegate everything to everyone unless you’re a multi-millionaire and you have staff that can take care of your every need. If that’s you, well then congratulations! If you’re like the rest of us normal people though, you’re going to need to decide what can be delegated and to whom. Does this take time? Yeah absolutely it does, do you have to let go control? Yep, absolutely. Is that hard for someone who likes to be in control? Sure is, my friend. I can assure you, I am one of those people, but the fastest way to ease your stress levels, and the quickest way to increase your productivity is to delegate.
Getting the Outcome You Want
My husband always tells me there are many ways to achieve the same outcome. If you remember anything from this blog — make it that. It might not be done the way you like it, but the outcome will still be the same. My one key tip to use when delegating is to give timeframes. It is no use asking "someone can you mow the lawn?" Yeah, absolutely I can…. Then stone-cold silence whilst you’re seething inside wondering why the lawn hasn’t been mown on your magical timeframe that was never communicated. Catching my drift?
Now, think of all of the people you can delegate your tasks to. But what if I live alone? You’ve got friends, family, coworkers and maybe even neighbours that you talk to, maybe even who would help you? Enlist their help! It might be as simple as asking them to help put the garbage out if you live in a block of flats - maybe you do it one week, they do it the next, maybe it takes asking a friend or family member to pick up the kids from school one afternoon so they don’t have to go to after school care. Maybe it’s the opposite and actually letting the kids go to after school care so you can fit an extra hour of work in on a weekday, meaning that you don’t have to touch the computer on the weekend.
Delegating Even the Little Things
Everyone’s level of delegation comfort will be different. But I can assure you of this, if your friends and family, co-workers or neighbours have the capacity to help you out, I’m sure they would rather do this than see you struggle. But what if I’m a complete Nigel No Friends (sorry to any Nigels out there). You don’t just have to delegate to people. Delegate to machines. Somewhere on this Earth a person far smarter than I designed machines to help our lives become easier. Use them! If you have a dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, use them. That’s what they’re there for.
I spoke earlier about delegating to family members. I don’t just mean those living outside your four walls. If you have children, use them! Do I mean put them to work 24/7? Absolutely not, but you can’t do it all by yourself. You need help. Even if it is just simple things. My 18-month-old understands me enough when I ask him to go and get your shoes and your jacket please. 9 times out of 10, he will bring them to me. Does it save time? Yes, it does. Sure, it’s not 10 minutes, but it allows me to carry on with what I’m doing for long enough to finish that off, yet achieve another small goal of getting him dressed for the day. Same goes for my 4-year-old, "Please bring me all the dishes from the table." The quicker that’s done, the quicker you can have some milk. This allows me to do the dishes as she brings them over and saves me traipsing back and forth to the table. They are little things but they all add up.
It Doesn't Have to Be People
Where is another place to delegate to? You're in it right now.....The INTERNET! Consider how computers and easy access to the online world have advanced our abilities to do things smarter, not harder. Some of the things that can be delegated to the internet — bill paying! Direct debit is an absolute friend to me. Whether they are monthly payments, pay as you go or instalments, it takes the worry out of the bills being stuck to the fridge and thinking yep...I’ll definitely do that tomorrow. Think about how often you would go online into your online banking, stuff around with the login because you’ve forgotten it again, reset your password...sounding familiar? So make one call to your energy company, one call to your car insurance, home insurance etc. One call is generally all it takes to set up a direct debit. Some even have an online application. Of course, direct debiting has to be suited to your individual circumstances and your budget needs to allow for that, BUT if it can be done within your means, then do it.
Online shopping. Again, sometimes this comes at a premium and you may have to work it into your budget, but if you’re time-poor and trying to increase your productivity, you’re going to need to delegate. Why not have the food delivered when you get home? Better yet (this is quite an indulgence) get pre-prepared meals delivered! Nowadays though, there are plenty of recipes that can be cooked in a short amount of time, and you know what, sometimes it is just easier to cook the things you know will get eaten rather than spending time trying to cook a fancy meal that the kids will turn their noses up at. I have a theory that the amount of time you spend cooking a meal is inversely proportional to how much they’ll like it. For example, give them mac and cheese and they’ll love it. Spend 8 hours cooking the most amazing lamb in the slow cooker — ba bow…. "I don’t like it". Follow the Keep It Simple theory here to maximise happy, healthy family mealtime!
The final thing to do when you’re prioritising your list of goals is to, of course, Do them. Some things just can’t be ditched or delegated and you need to just crack on and do them. If there are still conflicts, you then need to determine what gives. And go back to the ditch or delegate options.
The beauty of this system is that it works for many situations in life. Let’s take some examples:
So you’re one of those people who always signs up for things — Groupon, Scoopon, best deal, etc. Your inbox is flooded with the stuff. Guess what? That goes on the ditch pile. Better yet, unsubscribe from it, so it doesn’t even have to take up your brain space. Delegate — this is particularly handy at work. If it is not your part of the ship, as we like to say in the Navy, move it on to the right person. CC the person who sent it to you, and move that task on. Finally, if you do need to do it, again, crack on and get it done or plan to get it done. Set manageable, clear goals that you can achieve.
Like with the emails, - ditch delegate or do.
Ok, so they can’t delegate as much given that they’re most likely at the bottom of the delegation food chain, but sometimes there are things they need to ditch too. All too often we find that the kids can be over-scheduled. Ballet here, footy there, swimming there, and the list goes on. I don’t know much about child psychology, but I can tell you one thing from experience. Kids get tired, and when kids get tired, kids get cranky. When kids get cranky, no-one has fun. So, you might have spent your hard-earned dollars on those swimming lessons and you believe that it is an essential skill to have (which I do too), but you know what, sometimes they get tired and need a rest. So maybe consider giving them a break by ditching some of their commitments from time to time.
There are only so many hours in a day, and you cannot achieve everything. Using the three simple words of ditch, delegate or do, you're bound to see some clarity in your planning and make a huge leap towards achieving your everyday goals. And when everyone knows what they're doing in advance, there is far less chance of tantrums, tears or arguments, because what you need to do is predictable.
Why not grab a Daily Orders Planning Board to keep track of everyone's tasks? With a size and design to suit every taste, you'll be stress-free, and achieving your goals in no time!