3 Healthy Ways to Delegate for Less Stress

Handing off tasks can help you release the stress of an overburdened daily schedule.

Posted in , Aug 15, 2019


“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate,” said the author John C. Maxwell.

In workplaces, delegating responsibility is a hallmark of a healthy team, enabling everyone to feel empowered, competent and that the work burden is fairly distributed among coworkers. Home and family life is no different, but it can be difficult to know how to hand off tasks, particularly if years or even decades have gone by with one person carrying the brunt of the workload.

But delegating in a healthy way is a step on a positive path, particularly at home. Here are three ways to hone in on what you need to delegate, as well as some tips for how to let go of tasks in a positive, achievable way.

1)  Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Asking for help by delegating certain tasks and responsibilities to others in your life is not a sign that you are incapable of managing yourself. On the contrary, it’s a signal that you recognize the value of family and community, the famous “village” it takes to be peaceful and accomplished.

As the blogger Mindy Young points out, “The truth is, most people are not successful if they try to do everything themselves. This is because people are not good at everything. They just aren’t.” So stand tall as you approach friends or loved ones for support with tasks ranging from laundry to carpooling to paperwork. Chances are they could benefit from considering what help they need themselves.

2)  Choose What’s Possible—and Reasonable—to Let Go

There are some household tasks, like weeding the garden or planning and cooking family dinners, which I enjoy, am good at and would worry about if I gave them over to someone else. Those aren’t on my list of tasks to delegate. But washing dishes is something I know needs to get done and do not enjoy, not one little bit.

I don’t have any stake in how the dishes are organized in the dishwasher, what time the machine goes on or what sort of detergent we use. So I can happily institute an “I cook, you clean” routine with my husband and release all responsibility for the dishwashing. As it happens, his structural engineer’s brain is well suited to optimize each cycle of the dishwasher, and he sees loading it like a puzzle. So not only do I get to be free of an disliked task, he gets to excel and be helpful in a chore he enjoys doing.

3)  Actually Let Go

Easier said than done, right? Not if you are intentional about why you are delegating. If you have chosen wisely what to recruit help for, keep your eye trained on why you made that choice in the first place. Focus on the things you can now do because you are unburdened of the delegated responsibility. Reflect on the positive feeling of having someone in your life who can support you. Even if their efforts aren’t perfectly executed, even if it takes a couple of tries to get the new routine just right, remember that you are impacting someone else’s life, just by sharing a little piece of yours.

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