Basic GTD

Basic GTD: Delegate it

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez

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Delegating is one of the options you have when you are processing or clarifying what the things you’ve been capturing in your GTD system mean. To get to delegate something, first you have been following this process:

  1. You have clearly stated what that you have collected really is.
  2. You have determined that it is indeed necessary to do something.
  3. You have established exactly what should be the next action needed to achieve that result.
  4. And you’ve come to the conclusion that, for whatever reason (skills, time available, cost, etc.), you are not the best person to do this step action.

Sometimes, delegating something is not so obvious. It may be that something you are going to do requires previous approval from your boss. It may be that, before doing something, you want to know what your partner thinks about it. In both cases, we are talking about delegating.

Nor is it clear when you are not talking about individuals but entities or organizations. When you submit the version 2.0.10 of your mobile app to Apple for reviewing and publishing, or when you are waiting for your bank to send you a new credit card, you are also delegating.

David Allen emphasizes that you should always delegate in a systematic format, which is none other than the usual and standard for each situation (sending an email, having a real-time conversation, using the appropiate channel within the company, etc.)

If you could use several channels to delegate an action, you should give priority to email or other asynchronous digital systems that you may have agreed with your collaborators. This way, the conversation keeps electronically recorded and receivers can answer at their own convenience, without being interrupted.

Following the same reasoning, the actual conversation is the less convenient channel at the time of delegating: is a disruption in the work of both parts and nothing gets recorded. This does not mean that later, meeting up regularly with your colleague is not an efficient way to keep track of the work done.

When you delegate an action, you should put it on the Waiting For list to keep track during your regular reviews, indicating when it was delegated and who is the responsible—person or entity—of getting it done.

2 comments

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented over 3 years ago Cyrus

Great article. The art of delegation is one that every person should learn. Not because it allows an individual to put work on other people's shoulders, but because it helps the individual understand what work is being done, by whom, and how it all comes together to reach a goal. Delegation is, in my mind, the very essence of teamwork. One person cannot - and should not - do it alone. With more people comes a lighter load for the individual, more room and time to be creative. and fosters a team atmosphere.

One aspect of delegation that must be further explored is the follow-up. It is not enough to simply "delegate" to another. When you delegate a task, you are still tied to it, albeit in an indirect way. The completion of the task will reflect well on the individual who completed it, but also the person who delegated. How so? Because the person who delegated saw that another member of their team had the right tools, right resources, and the right background to get things done. They then empowered that individual they delegated the task to. That's leadership.

But nothing is worse than delegating a task and not following up. Following up is the equivalent to giving the rope that attaches two mountain climbers a slight tug to quietly communicate that all is well and things are going as planned. Failure to follow-up leaves everyone in the dark and could potentially be damaging. This is especially true if the task's importance, urgency, and outcome was not clearly communicated or understood.

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

Great article. The art of delegation is one that every person should learn. Not because it allows an individual to put work on other people's shoulders, but because it helps the individual understand what work is being done, by whom, and how it all comes together to reach a goal. Delegation is, in my mind, the very essence of teamwork. One person cannot - and should not - do it alone. With more people comes a lighter load for the individual, more room and time to be creative. and fosters a team atmosphere.

One aspect of delegation that must be further explored is the follow-up. It is not enough to simply "delegate" to another. When you delegate a task, you are still tied to it, albeit in an indirect way. The completion of the task will reflect well on the individual who completed it, but also the person who delegated. How so? Because the person who delegated saw that another member of their team had the right tools, right resources, and the right background to get things done. They then empowered that individual they delegated the task to. That's leadership.

But nothing is worse than delegating a task and not following up. Following up is the equivalent to giving the rope that attaches two mountain climbers a slight tug to quietly communicate that all is well and things are going as planned. Failure to follow-up leaves everyone in the dark and could potentially be damaging. This is especially true if the task's importance, urgency, and outcome was not clearly communicated or understood.

47bda2648df15e84f4ca21c3065955b7
Commented over 3 years ago philippe99

I totally agree with Cyrus: delegating requires a follow-up. And the most difficult is not that you need to follow-up the tasks *you* delegated, but, in many companies, to remind your colleague (that delegated the task to you) to follow up whta he has initiated. For these tasks, that originally are out of my GTD scope, I use some external reminders services like followuothen.com. Why ? Because I do not want to mix in my GTD the exceution reminders I can put on the task for my own follow-up with the follow-up I had to set for "the colleague"

47bda2648df15e84f4ca21c3065955b7 philippe99

I totally agree with Cyrus: delegating requires a follow-up. And the most difficult is not that you need to follow-up the tasks *you* delegated, but, in many companies, to remind your colleague (that delegated the task to you) to follow up whta he has initiated. For these tasks, that originally are out of my GTD scope, I use some external reminders services like followuothen.com. Why ? Because I do not want to mix in my GTD the exceution reminders I can put on the task for my own follow-up with the follow-up I had to set for "the colleague"

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