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Delegation Strategies for Better Work-Life Balance

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When military officers or veterans-turned-professionals say they want a better work-life balance, they're usually wishing for more hours in the day to accommodate all their professional responsibilities and personal pursuits.

While you can't establish a 27-hour day, you can do the next best thing: delegate. By taking certain tasks off your plate, you'll free up more time to concentrate on higher priority projects and pursue activities you enjoy.

"For me, work-life balance works when I trust someone to cover my responsibilities while I'm periodically unavailable," said Bill McIntyre, director of Ketchum Washington, in a recent article from MBA@Syracuse.

So why don't more professionals take advantage of delegating to achieve a better work-life balance? There are a number of reasons, from perfectionism to an unwillingness to appear dispensable. Once officers and professionals overcome their reluctance, however, they're often surprised by how much time they are able to save.

Keep reading for successful delegating tips that can help you free up time and make progress toward a healthier work-life balance.

Set Them Up for Success

You're ultimately still responsible for the tasks you delegate, so it's understandable to be anxious about a direct report's performance once you've assigned a task to him or her. Even if you're short on time, start by giving the junior officer or employee ample preparation. It's better to put in more effort on the front end so that you can avoid having to correct or redo work.

If this is your first time training a staff member on this task, step back and view your process from the perspective of someone who's approaching it for the first time. Gather any instructions or useful resources, and allow sufficient time for questions and demonstrations.

Check in Without Micromanaging

Successful delegation involves the right balance between being available to help and leaving space for the junior or employee to make adjustments.

Shortly after you hand off a task, check in to make sure she's progressing and to answer any of her questions. However, keep in mind that if you're constantly looking over your report's shoulder, you'll waste the valuable time you were hoping to save by delegating. You're also stifling any opportunity for the employee to explore her own solutions and possibly even make improvements to the process.

As you work with the junior officer and become more familiar with her skills and abilities, you can step back even further and give her as much free reign as you like. 

Delegate Outside of Work

Delegation isn't just for professional tasks. If you can delegate your personal and family responsibilities, you'll find more time for leisure activities and new pursuits.

While delegating to your children is a great way to teach them responsibility, the delegation of home tasks often takes the form of outsourcing. With a rise in delivery services and companies like TaskRabbit, it's easy to hire people to take on the time-consuming day-to-day responsibilities that don't require your expertise. 

Even though many military professionals are initially reluctant to delegate tasks, they often find it indispensable for maintaining a strong work-life balance once they get used to the process. 

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