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Two Questions to Ask to Go from Task to Activity Based Action and Delegation

laptop-943559_1920There are two important questions that business leaders and professionals need to ask at the tactical level in order to get things done. If you follow my writing you know that I define tactical as being about figuring out the how, who and when for anything that you need to accomplish. But often we find ourselves in the situation where we step in and do it ourselves. We believe we can do it better and faster than another person or it will take more time to explain what we need done than to have someone else do it for us. This is a false belief, one which is putting you in a situation where you have more and more to do and less time to do it in.

Related Article: The 12 Rules of Successful Delegation

What if you reframed the situation by simply changing the way you ask the “how” question that you are naturally asking. You go from asking, ‘how am I going to do this’ to ‘how am I going to get this done’. You see there is a subtle difference. The first tactical question is task orientated and the latter question is activity orientated. There is a difference. In process level thinking the words task and activity are defined differently.

  • An activity is a state of which something is being done. It is like an umbrella that houses many tasks that need to be done or get done.
  • A task is any piece of work that is expected or needs to be done. It is the pieces that make up the whole of an activity.

Here is a simple case in point. As you know, I publish the SET for Success – Strategy and Leader Insights blog weekly. Usually the blog is published at 5:08 am on Mondays unless there is a stat or summer holidays, then it is moved to Tuesdays. Creating a blog is made up of many tasks which include topic idea, research and writing, proofreading, copy and content editing, imagine selection and titles, posting to blog site, SEO research and selection, email campaign preparation and scheduling, social media campaign development and final completion. This is a larger activity with a lot of tasks that take up to four hours to complete. I suspect you have something that you do weekly that might be similar, maybe a weekly status report, business case update or key performance index reporting.

If you ask the first question, ‘how am I going to do this’ you end up assigning yourself all the tasks. But if you ask the question, ‘ how am I going to get this done’, you end up shifting your tactical thinking away from task to activity and begin to see other ways to do things, maybe asking for help, assigning things to another person or task sourcing through Upworks or Fiverr. My point, it’s a mental shift that forces you to consider activity to task delegation so you are not getting so burnt out trying to do everything yourself.

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Once you reframe the situation from task thinking to activity thinking at the tactical level do yourself a favor and create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the umbrella activity and all the tasks that make up that activity. Call it something using the verb noun naming convention (this is the what). For example, in this business case the SOP is called ‘Publishing Weekly Blog’. Then list all the tasks, identify who could do them and when they are due (how, who, when). Don’t worry if you do not have all the ‘who will do the task’ answered right away. The important thing is to get the activity named and the tasks identified for your SOP.

Related Article:  Use a Project Planning and
Implementation Approach to Create Change

Now be honest with yourself and select those (and only those) tasks that you must do. I call these high value tasks. In my example I have to research and write the weekly blog but I do not have to review and edit it or post it to the various internet sites it goes on. Someone else can do that for me. Tasks that you can delegate should be time consuming low level tasks that eat up your time but can be someone else’s high level tasks. For example, an assistant. If you don’t have an assistant, don’t fret; try some of the other resources I mentioned above.

Final Thought

This blog is not like a lot of the other blogs I have written. But tactical actions of activities and tasks have come up with the senior leaders and professionals I have worked with in my coaching practice. I have found business leaders and professionals engaged in tasks when they should really be focused on activities and asking the important question on ‘how they are going to get things done’ and not on ‘how they are going to do it’.

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” - Jessica Jackley,… Click To Tweet

It really comes down to looking at your regular on-going scheduled work, naming it as an activity, breaking down the tasks and then delegating your low value tasks to someone else. It works great in situations where you have a weekly or monthly operationalized activity and task that takes 2 to 10 hours to do.

If you would like a copy of my simple SOP template, send me an email. I would be glad to send you a copy.

I wish you the best at improving your productivity and making the shift to high value activities and task delegation. It will free up one extremely important limited resource, time.

Do your best,
Invest in the success of others,
Make your journey count.
Richard

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