Entertaining ChildrenHelpappy news

Why we struggle to delegate… part 1


Helpappy met with Grace Marshall, author of the award-winning book “How to be REALLY Productive”. Grace is a productivity coach and trainer for Think Productive who loves helping people live and work with more brilliance and less burnout, and does her own juggling running a business whilst raising two children.

One of Grace’s top tips to being productive is to stop trying to do it all yourself - seek support and delegate delegate, delegate! During the early stages of Helpappy, we carried out market research which suggests that there are a number of reasons why people feel unable to delegate life admin.  We presented each of these to Grace and she gave us some brilliant solutions to these delegation blockers.


Delegation Blocker 1 – “I am a control freak

Controlling everything can be exhausting!  Take pleasure in not being the one responsible for once 

Done is better than perfect

Description: these are people who like to be in control of every aspect of their lives.  Control “freaks”[1] typically don’t delegate tasks because they feel that if they want something done right, they better do it themselves.  They are convinced that delegating will ultimately require more of their time because they’ll have to fix whatever mistakes someone else made. If they do delegate, they insist on micromanaging every step of the way.

Grace’s solution:

Grace recommends that people who crave control think about the following:

  • What is really important to you about a certain task? Does it matter how the task is done or does it just need to be done? If it’s the latter, the task can and should be delegated. If you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, it doesn’t matter how it is done, just that it gets done.
  • Done is better than perfect. Some jobs are worth the gold standard and need you to do it yourself but some jobs can make do with silver, bronze or just done.  g. finding someone to clean your windows – you could control every aspect of this and spend hours finding the “right” person but in the end is it worth it?
  • If I control everything, I’m not giving the people around me the chance to learn – if you never delegate anything to your partner or kids – you may think you are doing them a favour but they may never learn. I know Mums who won’t let their husbands look after their kids because they worry that the husband doesn’t know how to look after them like they do.  The problem is if they never leave their husband alone with the kids, he will never learn and will feel like a lesser parent.  It can also put a strain on your relationship when there isn’t equality.  The person doing everything feels exhausted and resentful and the person on the other end feels inadequate and like they can’t be trusted.
  • A change is as good as a rest. Controlling everything can be EXHAUSTING and if you let go and outsource tasks you will find it a pleasure not being the one responsible and in charge.
  • An overwhelming urge to control everything can stem from anxiety. Is your control freakery a symptom of something else you’re worried about? When your emotions feel out of control internally, you may react to this by trying to control everything externally. This leaves people unable to delegate because there is a fear that if you hand over the control in a task, you are relinquishing control over everything and things could start to spiral...

Grace is aware that letting go of control for people who are used to controlling everything is not easy and recommends taking baby steps.  Communicate with the person you are delegating to.  As an example, if you wanted to delegate booking a holiday to a Helpappy PA, you could agree “stop-off points” (e.g. find me 3 options for a villa holiday in Spain, then we’ll speak and discuss whether more options are needed and then we can decide whether to book).  That way you don’t feel like you are completely losing control of the whole task.

[1] We use the term “freak” in the loosest sense – it is actually “freakishly” common to be a control “freak”!

Part 2.... Delegation Blocker 2 – Life Admin is my Job

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *