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The Science of Increasing Productivity: The Art of Delegation

If you want to really get a lot done in your life or at work, one skill stands out: being able to get other people to do what you want—better known as the art of delegation.

During a commercial break during one of the times I was on the Oprah show, I asked Oprah how she managed to get so much done. After all, at the time, I knew she had a daily TV show, a radio show, a magazine, and she sat on the board of something like 50 different charities. "How can you possibly do it all?" I asked. She smiled and said, "Early in my career, I saw I had to choose between being a crazy busy control freak, or getting good at delegating. So I chose to be a crazy busy control freak—and that practically led to a nervous breakdown—so having done that, I worked at getting good at delegating. Now I delegate just about everything. Someone chooses what I wear, where I go, what I eat, when I exercise, it's a much more relaxed way to live life."

Like Oprah, most of us only learn to delegate once we hit our personal wall. We fail to become good at delegating either because we want to control everything, or we don't have enough money to pay others to do some of our work. Yet, trying to do everything yourself is not a recipe for success or for enjoying life. Highly productive people delegate as much as possible. They delegate tasks they're not good at, and they delegate any task that they specifically are not required to do. That way, they can spend their time focusing on their greatest skills and highest priority items.

So what's your excuse for not delegating more? Everyone has a reason. The most common reasons are a lack of money to hire someone, or you tried it in the past, and it didn't work out so well. I understand. Yet, delegation is a skill that you get better at over time. At first, it's like an investment. The person you delegate something to probably won't do as good a job as you, but over time they'll get better—which will then free up your time to focus on what you do best.

Nowadays, I delegate many things. I delegate cleaning to our housecleaner; I delegate cooking to our supermarket—where I buy freshly prepared meals. I delegate various work tasks to an assistant. At first, each of these things I delegated made me a bit nervous, but soon I got used to it, and I saw that they ultimately led to me having more time—and even more money. After all, I can pay a housecleaner $25 an hour, and fortunately, I can charge much more than that for my hourly services, so I'm really making additional money by paying someone else to clean my house. And best of all, she's much better at cleaning my house than I am.

So right now, sit up straight in your chair, take a deep breath, and then let it out with a long, slow sigh.


As a step towards becoming an expert at delegation, in the next week, I want you to delegate some task you'd normally do to someone else—perhaps an employee, a handyman, a mate, or a friend. If necessary, hire someone specifically to do this task. Then from now on, when at work, periodically ask yourself, "Could I get someone else to do this task instead of me?" That question is what I call the delegation mantra. Once again, the question is, "Could I get someone else to do this task instead of me?" ask it often.

When we learn to delegate, it opens up whole new possibilities for our career and our life. If you're busy doing stuff that other people could easily do, then you're not spending your time making your unique contribution. Delegation is a learned skill; with practice, you can get better at it, and as you get better, you can actually get more done with less effort…

In tomorrow's session, you'll discover an amazing way to dramatically increase your productivity with a method that takes only 10 seconds to do. You won't want to miss it.

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Written by

Jonathan Robinson