Delegating work is about doing these three things really well:
- Matching the task to the right person to do it.
- Defining what you want done, including what the outcome of the task should be (i.e. specific guidance on the deliverable, etc.).
- Consistently following up as needed, using the “trust but verify” technique to ensure work is getting done.
Most people have a hardest time with #3, the follow up. When you delegate work, it’s hard to keep track of who you gave what tasks to, and the details around each one. It’s also hard to keep a running list of everything you have delegated to a person to use for easy follow-up when talking to them.
Here are my tips for using email and to do list software, Remember the Milk, to effortlessly solve all of this!
Tip #1: Setup Remember the Milk for Delegation
Time to complete: 5 minutes
Create a free account at Remember The Milk. Next, navigate to “Settings -> Lists” and create a list called “Waiting For”. This is the list that will hold all of your delegated tasks. Finally, find your “Import Email Address” under “Settings -> Info” and add it to your email address book. This is the email address you will send delegated tasks to for review and follow-up in Remember the Milk later. Note: Paid accounts get mobile app access, so you will likely want that later.
Tip #2: Create a Custom Email Signature
Time to complete: 2 minutes
When you email the tasks you delegate to Remember the Milk, the subject of your email becomes the task, and the body of the email is attached as a note. You can also add special text to the email you send to Remember the Milk to have the task end up on your new “Waiting For” list and tagged with the person’s name that you delegated the task to. By creating an email signature template with this info in it, you can easily forward emails to Remember the Milk for follow-up later.
Here’s what the email signature will look like:
List: Waiting For
Tags: Name Goes Here
Tip #3: Work Your New System
You are now setup to delegate work more effectively! Whenever you email someone to delegate work to them, go to your sent items and forward the email to Remember The Milk. Whenever you have an email related to work you have delegated, forward that email to Remember the Milk.
When sending emails to Remember the Milk, simply adjust the subject line to whatever you want the task to be on your Waiting For list. Then, add in your custom signature above the forwarded message, changing it to include the name of the person you delegated work to.
The tags/naming feature has two benefits. First, when you are in Remember the Milk, with one click you can see a list of everything you have delegated to a specific person. Second, as the number of tasks you have delegated to a person grows, so does the size of their name in Remember the Milk. You can use this to easily identify people who you need to follow-up with (i.e. have a lot of outstanding delegated tasks).
Now, whenever you are going to talk to someone you have delegated work to, simply pull up that person’s list in Remember the Milk. You can ask for a status on each task, and check them off as they are completed! Your status check-ins with that person just got way more productive.
Did you miss the first part of this article series? If so, take a peek at The Secret of Delegating Work Effectively.
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