Task delegation is an area where one’s own time management is affected directly by the quality of other people’s time management. How often have you asked someone to take care of a task, only to find – on the deadline – that it was never actioned? It is situations like these which can completely disrupt one’s day and cause utter chaos.

Effective delegation is a vital part of our lives and developing skills in this arena is important in order to manage our own time and be more productive. Over the last few years, I have studied this topic, implemented various methods and found that effective task delegation boils down to five important points.

Don’t let it marinade

When a task makes its arrival in your life, analyse it immediately and decide upon the next action. If you will be delegating the task to someone else, ensure that you do so promptly. Do not keep the task on your desk for any length of time. The sooner it’s passed on, the sooner it will get done. If you waste time by not delegating the task immediately, you will be negatively affecting someone else’s time management.

Be specific

When delegating a task or project to another person, be absolutely clear in what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Vague instructions cause delays and quite possibly incorrect completion of the task or project. This could result in your having to re-do the task!

Use buffers

Deadlines are very often ignored or missed due to a variety of factors. It is a good idea to build a buffer into the deadline, when delegating a task. If the actual deadline is on Friday, set the deadline for Wednesday, when passing the task to another person. This will allow you to make corrections, check the work or even have it re-done, if need be – all before the actual deadline arrives.

For larger or more complex projects, another good idea is to set intermediate deadlines. This allows you to ensure the project is on track to be completed by the final deadline.

Send reminders

Once a task or project has been delegated, it can’t be forgotten until the deadline. Delegation of a task is not the same as delegation of responsibility. You are still the owner of the task, even though someone else is doing the actual work. It is vital that you send a reminder a day or two before the deadline, to the person you have delegated the task to. This will serve as an early warning system – if the task has not been actioned yet, your reminder will hopefully get it going. If the task cannot be completed for whatever reason, this will prompt a response to inform you so you can act immediately.

Follow-up and don’t accept excuses

If a person misses the deadline, you need to follow up immediately. Failing to do so, will send a message that your task or project is not important or your deadline is flexible. This can cause chaos for the current and all future tasks. Stick to deadlines and make sure others do too. When excuses are made with regards to missing a deadline, do not accept it. Make it clear that you are not interested in why the deadline was missed. You are interested only in when the work will be completed.

Effective task or project delegation can massively affect one’s time management and productivity, in a very positive way. Develop the skill of correct delegation and implement it in your business and life – you’ll experience the difference immediately.

Tiana Wilson-Buys is a “Get Stuff Done” Business Coach and Productivity Strategist. She offers a free 10-Day Time-Saving Tactics programme via e-mail which you can find here.