Delegation seems scary to many and others say “I would never….” Please reconsider. Be sure to delegate tasks when possible. Delegation allows you use time in a way that you can play to your strengths, focus your energy in the areas that give you satisfaction, allow others to share their gifts with you, and develop the community that makes the dementia journey more enjoyable. Finally, you’ve likely made the helper’s day by asking for and appreciating the help that they can offer.
It often seems there isn’t enough time for everything! And….there probably isn’t! That is just the reality of a busy life! So how do we maximize our time or our impact? How do we make living with dementia (either as a person or as a care partner) the most rewarding? My time in academia taught me to delegate!! At first…I resisted, but then I learned it could make me more effective AND those to whom I delegated, proud, happy and fulfilled. I had to do it to believe it, but it was true. I learned to take care of myself and the tasks and trust others, honor others, and truly appreciate others.
Here are 6 tips on how to effectively delegate – a skill well worth embracing!
1. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
Take 3-5 minutes to take an inventory. What tasks do you do each day, each week, each month? Now….What makes you happy? What makes you shine? Keep those tasks and block out time in your schedule to do them. How to find that time? What is on your list that you are not as happy with? Pick 3 of them and move on to step 2! We are going to identify the tasks that take up your time, but are best done by others.
2. Identify and choose the right person.
Choose someone with skills that match what needs to be done (e.g., organizing, research) OR someone who can learn quickly or is eager to assist you.
Believe it or not, people love being recognized for what they do well. Can you identify someone to fill some of the more tedious tasks (for you) on your list? Need more engagement in your life? Ask a friend to explore some fun options, make a list of supplies that would be needed for each, think through how those options might need to be adapted for someone living with dementia, and either make a list or spreadsheet for your reference.
3. Set reasonable deadlines for yourself and others
It is important to set reasonable deadlines for yourself and for the tasks that you are delegating. If a task needs to be done by Friday, make sure everyone involved knows this and can work towards it. The task is grocery shopping – do you have enough essentials to get to Friday? If not, are they flexible to move the task up?
4. Be prepared to answer questions and give instructions
Sometimes it may seem like more trouble to prepare to have someone take on a task than just to do it yourself. Please think again. If you must, ask the person to come over while you perform the task and take notes. Or, speak out loud as you perform the task and have a google document open to transcribe as you speak! Pass the document on to the person who will be helping with the tas. A few minutes to answer questions the first few times will reap huge benefits down the road.
5. Check in
Check in via email, text, or phone call. Keep it simple. Be gracious. Think of a script something like this …”I wanted to thank you for your willingness to XYZ. Just checking in to see if you have any questions or concerns that I can answer as you work through this the first time.” This obviously doesn’t need to happen if the task is mowing the yard, but maybe if someone is doing research on assisted living.
6. Give credit where credit is due
Repay those that have helped with praise! We all like to help others and feel enormous satisfaction in being able to give. Simply thank them and let them know how much their help means to you!
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Be sure to delegate tasks when possible.
- It allows you to play to your strengths, focus your energy in the areas that give you satisfaction, allow others to share their gifts with you, and develop the community that makes any journey more enjoyable.
- Please remember that you’ve likely made the helper’s day by asking for and appreciating the help that they can offer.
- Finally, for tips on how to help you as the helper, sign up here.
Together in Dementia!!