The Most Important Item on My Task List

Recently, I posted about how I handle tasks.  While I prioritize tasks carefully, there are many things that can and should be handled by others.  Determining which actions should be delegated may be the most important decision I make when looking at my to-dos.

When using an A, B, C, D method of sorting tasks, I have found that the D category – “Delegation” — is one of the most important, if not the most important item on my task list.  Getting things to people who can handle them is a crucial way for me to spend time on actions that simply can’t be delegated.

When initially creating my list of tasks for a given week, I place the letter D to the left of items that should be delegated.  This serves to remind me to send information regarding the item to the appropriate person.  Here is an example of what this looks like:

A Call Mrs. Jones Re: Sam’s grade

A See Bob about next year’s budget

B Review recently-received resumes

C Follow up with Jim

D Set up meeting with Joe, Frank, and John Re: Fundraiser (Barbara)

When looking at my task list for a given day, the D designation will remind me to delegate this task.  In this case, I would simply send an email to my administrative assistant asking her to set up a meeting with Joe, Frank, and John.  Placing Barbara’s name in parenthesis lets me know that I am delegating this task to her.

Once this is done, I change the item to look like this:

@ Set up meeting with Joe, Frank, and John Re: Fundraiser (Barbara)

The @ symbol lets me know that this item is in progress.  The name in parenthesis indicates that I am awaiting a response from this person.  If the day ends and I haven’t heard back from Barbara, I will simply move the item to the next day for follow up.

There are many ways to handle tasks and delegated items.  This one works pretty well for me, so you might want to give it a try.

What method do you use to delegate items and track them?


About Kerry Palmer

I am the Head of School at Trinity Presbyterian School in Montgomery, Alabama. I also conduct the Sanctuary Orchestra at First Baptist Church in Montgomery. I enjoy reading and blogging about leadership.
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1 Response to The Most Important Item on My Task List

  1. Going all the way back to the days when Reagan was in the White House and my organizational system consisted of a memo pad in my pocket and a set of tickler files to house each little sheet from the memo pad, I had always jotted “Expect to receive…” following by whoever and whatever the task concerned. Over time, “expect to receive” got shortened to “ETR” and lives on to this day when the heart of my organizational system is Outlook synced to my BlackBerry.

    Once I delegate a task, I amend the task to include the letters “ETR” atthe beginning of the line and set a due date for when I should be expecting the other person to come through. When that day arrives, I am looking at a reminder to follow-up.

    If I want to see a list of every task that is currently delegated, I push one button on the BlackBerry to view my entire task list and then enter type “ETR.” Now I am looking at just the tasks where I am “expecting to receive” something from someone else. That’s how I stay on top of the tasks delegated to others.

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