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A Path to Letting Go

May 6, 2019

 

My wife and I both work. Thus, we have stuff and things we're responsible for at work and at home.  

 

And we have three kids. They all go to school. And then they have friends. And activities. So they have their own stuff and things they need to do.  

 

Not that we're any more or less busy than the next person. Our stuff and things isn't that different than yours. But if you do the math, we are very often in a situation where the five of us are going in multiple directions with all of our stuff and things. And we wonder how we'll be able to get it all done. I find myself often wondering if I've left a kid in my car by accident as I'm working on getting my stuff and things done. 

 

At work, it's similar in our roles. We take a lot of stuff and things to do. And we get into spots - sometimes really big, long, and scary spots - that make us wonder how we're going to get it all done. And we're told that the recipe for getting it all done is to delegate it. To just let that stuff go. And to let other people do those things. 

 

I don't know about you, but letting go of stuff and things is hard. Why? 

 

  • Because I work on complex stuff. 

  • The people on my team are already too busy doing their own things. 

  • It'll take too long to train on the stuff. 

  • They won't do those things as well as I would do it. 

  • It would just be easier if I did the stuff.  

 

So by believing these things to be true, we typically then get overwhelmed. Frustrated. Burnt out. And not getting to other stuff and things where you either know you need to spend time or want to spend time. 

 

If you like being in that spot, then good for you. Enjoy everything you do within your 80 hour work week. 

 

If you're interested in making a change, the key then is acknowledge what you can do differently to shift your mindset from saying "how will I ever get that stuff done" to "who can get that stuff done." Do to it right, consider the following exercise: 

 

  • Write down your goal. If you have a goal. Maybe you want to leave the office by 5:30pm. Or to not be emailing at 8pm at night. Or to start a big project you've been putting off. Whatever it is, write it at the top of your page. 

  • Make a list of all the stuff you do. Start listing out where you spend your time. What are all of the activities, tasks, and projects you do on a regular basis. 

  • Acknowledge what things won't let go. You'd kill your career if you let all of those things go. And you'll kill your career if you don't let some of it go. Acknowledge what you need to keep. Ensure that it is such a priority, that it is bigger than the goal you wrote down. 

  • Identify what stuff you're willing to get others involved. Notice I didn't say "let go", "delegate" or "handover". Pick out the 1-3 things that (1) get in the way of that important goal and (2) where you know someone else can be involved to get it done.

  • Talk to the person who can do the things. Share what the activity is. Why it might be important to their role. What they'll need to start doing to get the work done. Don't have that person yet? Perhaps it is time to come back to what you need on your team? 

  • Create a follow-up cadence. To give up control of the day to day things of that stuff, you'll need to stay connected to the person - for your sake and theirs. They'll want to know if they're moving in the right direction. You'll want to stay involved. 

  • Rinse and repeat. Starting with a small number of items can help you, and your team, create new habits and get some early wins. Revisit your list often to ensure you're still hitting on your goal and focusing your time in the right way. 

Letting go of work that we've always done, or feel super comfortable doing, can apply to many of us. However, knowing where we should and want to be spending our time can help us and our team. 

 

Who can help you with your own stuff and things?

 

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