On a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon recently, I found myself sitting at my table, paralyzed by my to-do list. I had just returned to my apartment after spending some time on Long Island taking care of my mother after surgery. While it was nice to be away and have the time with family, I was trying to get my head back into business and I felt behind on everything. Writing. Networking. Bookkeeping. Cleaning. Grocery shopping. I also had a task to complete for a call the next day. Ugh.
I set out to determine which tasks needed to be done today. My deadline was an obvious one, so I marked that as number one. Looking at the other items, everything felt like priority. Everything needed my attention. I came up with a list of seven things to do. Then I looked at the time. I did a quick check of my energy level. I knew something had to give or these seven things were not getting done.
“Grocery shopping” stared at me from the page. I was going to walk down to D’Agostino (or the D’Ag, as I affectionately call one of my local grocery stores). I was fighting with myself about going to the store or saving the time (and spending more money) putting in an order for delivery. I hemmed and hawed for more time than probably necessary. I was really struggling with the feeling that I had to do it all. That I personally had to do it all. I. Me. Myself.
I finally said, to hell with it, and pulled up the Instacart app on my phone, and put in my order. When I was finished, the order confirmation screen came up, as it always does, but this time I noticed something on the bottom. The app was telling me I had saved 118 hours of shopping to date by using the delivery service.
118 hours. That’s almost five-24 hour days. 118 hours is almost three days of a 40-hour work week. If I wanted to quantify my time in dollars using an executive level salary from my former life, I had saved over $16,000 worth of my time. Time I could put to use on another activity. Whoa.
As I was putting in my order, I was feeling cranky about all I was losing by not going to the grocery myself: a walk outside, picking out my own food, seeing what was going on in the neighborhood, maybe getting a deal on a item that I didn’t see online.
That 118 hours saved really stayed with me. I started thinking about what I gained. In the time I saved, I finished my deliverable for the next day, made more progress on a writing project, cleaned the kitchen and got it ready for meal prep. I also thought about what others may have gained. A chance to be outside delivering an order. The chance to earn another tip, as I know from talking with several of my grocery delivery folks (pre-Covid) that this is sometimes their second or third job to pay for a kid’s college, and every little bit helps.
Taking this into your personal and professional lives, what are you holding onto that you can outsource or delegate? What do you gain by giving something up? How does it help someone else? How can you develop your team members by trusting them with a stretch task, so you can focus on other aspects of your job that need your attention? By giving something up, how else can you spend your time and energy? I look forward to hearing from you.
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